The Gospel and Avengers: EndGame
Updated: May 11, 2019
It’s been two weeks since the release date of the most widely anticipated movie in a generation. I’ve seen better movies, and I’m sure that in a few weeks, I’ll be able to remember what those better movies were. For now, however, I’m still enjoying the hype and excitement of Endgame. I’ve seen it twice, and with a little luck and a babysitter, I’ll get a chance to see it again soon. As with every story humanity tells, Endgame was saturated with gospel themes.
Over the next few days, I will share four ways Avengers: End Game echoes the gospel. Here’s number one:
The best of the best--all the heroes--fail to reverse the curse of Thanos.
Technically this begins before Avengers: Endgame. At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, the prequel to Endgame, the good guys (and gals) lost. Despite their best efforts, the Avengers, with the help of all of Wakanda, could not stop Thanos from gathering all of the infinity stones and using them to snap half of all living creatures in the universe out of existence. Endgame opens with stark (pun intended) reminders of their combined failures, and within the first thirty minutes or so, the heroes fail again—they arrive at Thanos’ quaint garden home in order to take the infinity stones and reverse the destruction of life only to find out they are too late. Thanos has used the stones to destroy the stones, forever cementing his actions, or so it seems. The next section of the movie drives home the depth of their failure, opening with a slowly revealed “Five Years Later.” For five long years, the universe has languished in the shadow of death and destruction. No segment of society on earth or beyond is left without deep wounds.
In Romans 5:12, Paul tells us,
Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men.
It is not simply that all people will eventually die—it’s that since the actions of Adam, we live in a world characterized by physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological death. We are surrounded by it. We can feel it. David, in Psalm 23, describes it as a valley of shadows, and depending on our circumstances, we might feel darkness of those shadows more at some times than at others; but we all feel them. They are never far from us.
The Bible is full of stories of men and women who seem to try and reverse the curse, but they all fail. The greatest biblical heroes fail to live up to their own hype. Abraham, Moses, David, and Solomon—some of the greatest heroes of the faith—are known as much for their failures as for their victories. Even the New Testament apostles like Peter, John, and Paul have deep stains on their character. Peter denied Jesus. John and his brother James were power hungry, and Paul was an avid persecutor of Christians.
All of the heroes in Endgame are impacted by their failure, but no one takes it harder than Thor. The son of Odin/god of thunder turns to a lethargic life of video games and beer to deal with his failures, and the result is that he looks, in the words of Rocket (the raccoon), more like “melted ice cream” than a chiseled norse god. In one scene, Thor encounters his mother, their conversation captures the essence of the Avengers’ collective failure:
Thor: “I failed.”
Frigga: “That makes you like everyone else.”
Thor: “I’m not supposed to be like everyone else.”
Frigga: “Everyone fails at who they are supposed to be.”
The Avengers were not supposed to fail. They were not supposed to be like everyone else. They were supposed to be something greater, but they were not up to the task.
As the story goes, the Avengers eventually find a way to undo their failure, but that’s a topic for another post. For now, let this gospel truth sink in—even the greatest among us fail to be who we are supposed to be. That’s why God became a man in the person of Jesus—the only one who was everything He was supposed to be. He died in our place in order to purchase our forgiveness and defeat sin, death, hell, and the grave.