Hey everyone! I'm Josh Starnes, one of the bloggers for People of Faith. The blogs that I will be posting here are the same posts from my own blog, Lord of the Scenes, where my goal is to engage film with Christian faith. Every week I pick a movie and confront and connect its messages to the truths found in Scripture. If that is something you may be interested in, check it out at lordofthescenes.com! But, like I said, I will also be posting them here as well. So, here's my review of Marvel Studios' The Avengers!
“There was an idea, Stark knows this, called the Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more. To see if they could work together when we needed them to. To fight the battles that we never could.”
Last week, I had the opportunity to rewatch this amazing movie that is now 8 years old! THAT IS CRAZY! I remember going to see The Avengers with my cousin when I was eleven years old and being absolutely blown away by it. I had never experienced anything like it before! Ever since then, I have been a huge fan of the the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and followed it intently as it continued to expand with 17 more films. Having seen how gargantuan and intense the story has become over recent years, it was refreshing and nostalgic to revisit such a groundbreaking yet fun movie that seems so minuscule now. I really felt like I was eleven again.
Like many superhero movies, the plot of The Avengers is centered around a conflict between good and evil. When the world faces the ultimate threat of Loki and his alien army, the Avengers, made up of Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, and Black Widow, are assembled to fight against them. As I watched the film, this central conflict reminded me of several biblical truths relating to spiritual warfare and the Church. Just as the Avengers were engaged in a physical conflict with Loki and his forces, so we as Christians are engaged in a spiritual conflict with Satan and the powers of Hell. Ephesians 2:2 describes Satan as the “prince of the power of the air.” This means that Satan is operating in the world around us, actively working against God’s Kingdom and His people. How? By tempting us, accusing us, and dividing the Church.
To further this, 2 Timothy 2:1-10 says, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” In this passage, Paul describes Christians as soldiers. In our service to Christ, we are to conduct ourselves in a soldier-like fashion: training other soldiers (v. 2), sharing in suffering (v. 3), and cutting out distractions to remain faithful in fighting the good fight for “the one who enlisted him” (v. 4). Additionally, just as soldiers wave their nation’s flag and brandish their weapons against the enemy, we as Christians are to carry the banner of Christ and employ His gospel against our foes (v. 8-9).
As I thought more about what it means to be a soldier, two things in particular stuck out to me that connected The Avengers with what Scripture says about the Church. First, soldiers are part of an army. As soldiers of Christ, we are also in an army: the Church! God has built His Church and given us the responsibility of advancing His Kingdom, thus waging war against the devil and his schemes. This means that we are not alone, but rather have other good soldiers fighting alongside of us. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 states, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him-a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” The wisdom in these verses is crucial for Christians to understand. If we seek to be successful in our conflict against Satan, we must not be lone soldiers. We must surround ourselves with a community of believers that will fight, suffer, and toil alongside us. This is the entire premise of the The Avengers! Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. realized that the threat was too great for just one of the “remarkable people” to face. Thus, an entire team was created. In the end, the Avengers were able to win because they had each other. If it would have been left up to just one of them, they would not have defeated Loki. Because actively participating in Christ’s army is so important, Satan often attempts to stir up division. We see this with Loki as he deceived all the Avengers and turned them against one another. As a result, they began fighting amongst themselves instead of focusing on the true enemy. When this happened, Loki’s forces snuck in and attacked, crippling the Avenger’s headquarters and breaking Loki out of imprisonment. As the Church, we must not do the same! We must constantly be on guard against such divisions creeping into our Christian relationships and remember that we are united by Christ, therefore fighting for a common Lord and against a common enemy. Don’t allow that threefold cord to be broken!
Lastly, each soldier has a unique role to play. What makes the Avengers so successful is that each member of the team has a different ability to offer. Iron Man is a genius with a powerful suit, Thor is a “god” equipped with a mighty hammer, and Captain America is a natural born leader with amazing fighting skills and a shield. Without all of their unique powers and gifts, the Avengers would not have been able to defeat Loki’s army. There are several amazing scenes in the final battle of the movie where we see the Avengers combine their skills against the enemy (ex. Captain America using his shield to deflect Iron Man’s laser beams onto the enemies). Similarly, God has created each and every one of us with unique gifts and abilities. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Paul speaks of the Church as the body of Christ. When you think of a body, it has many different functions that work together to make the body work. Without a hand, an ear, or an eye, the body would not function properly. So, we as Christians are called to use our God-given gifts and the roles we’ve been placed in to strengthen and grow God’s Kingdom. No gift or role is insignificant, no matter how big or small. For example, in the Avengers team there are the powerful heroes such as Thor and Hulk, but there are also Black Widow and Hawkeye who had no powers. Yet, their skills were valuable to the team as a whole to defeat the enemy. So, recognize the abilities you have been given and use them to serve Christ.
In conclusion, we are able to serve Christ as soldiers in His great army, the Church, because of His great sacrifice. Though we can relate with the Avengers in many ways, we can also relate to the helpless citizens seen frantically running around in the background during the climactic final battle. Just as the Avengers served as an advocate for the defenseless people of Earth in the fight against the might of Loki’s army, so Christ saw our helpless state and served as our advocate against sin, death, and Satan on the cross. He died the death that we should have died, thus defeating the sin that we never could. So, as we suffer and fight through battles as “people of faith”, we have hope in the fact that Christ went before us and has ultimately won the war.