Redemption and Avengers: Endgame
We can’t go back—we can only go forward. That is, unless we are the Avengers and we learn to manipulate the quantum realm.
One of the most amazing elements of Endgame was the satisfying resolution of so many storylines, conflicts, and loose ends from previous Avengers/MCU movies, and several resolutions occur as the Avengers travel through time to borrow the infinity stones.
For example, Thor’s time travel provides an opportunity for a conversation with his mother, who died in Thor: Ragnarok. He also recovers Mjolnir (his hammer) which was crushed in that same movie. In another scene from the Avenger’s time travels, Captain America encounters Peggy Carter, his WWII era girlfriend, as he and Tony Stark search for the Tesseract and more Pym Particles at Camp Lehigh. Cap doesn’t get to speak to Peggy, but he sees her and hears her voice for the first time since he crashed into the Arctic in 1945. Then, as the movie closes, we learn that Cap chose to remain in a different reality with Peggy, marry her, and build a life with her after completing his mission to return the infinity stones.
As much as Thor’s encounter with his mother and Captain America’s encounter with and eventual reuniting with Peggy Carter are touching aspects of the film, nothing moved me more than Tony Stark’s encounter with his father, Howard Stark. While Captain America sees and hears Peggy Carter through an office window, Tony Stark has a full conversation with his father—a conversation in which Howard unknowingly resolves so many of Tony’s conflicted feelings about Howard.
What makes the resolutions so powerful and moving in Endgame? For starters, there’s the great story telling, acting, cinematography, and musical scores. But there’s also something deeper—something that echoes the gospel. The Avengers resolve issues that are only accessible to them because they find a way to go back and fix what was broken in the past. We all wish we could go back. We see moments of brokenness in our past like misguided relationships, important conversations we never had, missed opportunities or just bad decisions. What we long for is redemption—the recovery of what has been lost—and that is precisely what the gospel offers.
Through the person and work of Jesus, God is making all things new. For those who are in Christ, there is not a moment of life, a bad decision, a sinful attitude, a rebellious action, or even the devastating impact of someone else’s sin on our lives that will not be fully redeemed, restored, and renewed for God’s eternal glory and our eternal good. Think of it this way: every moment of brokenness God has brought or allowed into our lives will be redeemed in such a way that 10,000 years from now we will praise Him for it. That’s what Paul means in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 when he says,
This light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.
Why are we so attracted to stories of redemption like the storylines in Avengers: Endgame? Because those stories echo the greatest story—the only story that really matters, and God, our great Redeemer, does not need a plan B, a time machine, or alternate realities to make all things new; He does it all, the first time, through Jesus.