MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! Please walk away now, ye 0.01 percent of the population that hasn’t yet watched Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame. SOT writer Dave Riel Espanola shares the Biblical reflections he gleaned watching Endgame.
By Dave Riel Española
Starting from five weeks ago (April 24, 2019 to be exact) Marvel fans all over the world rushed to watch the penultimate installment of the Marvel Avengers franchise which comprised 21 movies over 10 years. They sat through three hours of Avengers: Endgame and left the cinema wiping manly tears and melted mascara from their faces. The superhero team that had grown up with a whole generation of moviegoers had stamped their heroic feats indelibly into the hearts and minds of millions all around the world.
Avengers: Endgame gave us valuable lessons in heroism and sacrifice. Some parts closely resembled people and events in the Bible as well. We take a look at Endgame through Christian-colored lenses and highlight some Biblical parallels that apply in our walk with God.
After all, “The Lord is (also) an avenger!” (1 Thessalonians 4:6)
1. SAVING THE WORLD BY SAVING ONE PERSON
When the Avengers who were left behind at the end of Infinity War discover a way to go back in time and undo what Thanos has done (thanks to Ant Man and his time travel/heist), it is up to “Genius, Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropist” Tony Stark aka Iron Man to create the time machine to recover all the infinity stones that Thanos destroyed. But Stark is now all settled in with his family—he and Pepper Potts now have a daughter—and he’s bent on staying in this reality.
Endgame could have ended there, but of course it didn’t. Seeing a photo of Peter Parker (aka Spider-man) and himself stirs up a desire in Stark to join in the Avengers’ plan. Those who watched Infinity War would surely weep at the sight of Stark missing Peter, the son he never had. Driven by the possibility of doing right by Peter, Stark decides to create a time machine that works.
This great depiction of fatherly love reminds us of the Parable of the Lost Sheep. In Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV), it says “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”
This scene is an illustration of what we can do when we start to have a desire to save just one person. We may not save everyone, but the Bible says that heaven rejoices when one soul gets saved, so it is that reaching out to one person goes beyond the person; we eventually reach out to other people and lead them back to God.
2. EVEN SUPERHEROES NEED FRIENDS
Perhaps the most significant theme of the Avengers: Endgame is the importance of friendship. Thanos succeeding in wiping half the world’s population has put the Avengers in a very pressing situation, which led them to encounter conflict with their teams. Here are some of the most notable friendships in the Endgame:
Bruce Banner and Thor
In the Infinity War, Thor felt devastated when he couldn’t do anything to stop Thanos from snapping his fingers. This led him to “let himself go”, drinking beer all day, gaining a lot of weight and looking like “melted ice cream”, as Rocket Raccoon put it. But Banner goes all the way to Thor’s hideout to encourage him to get back up again. Facing Thor’s reluctance to step up, the Hulk recalls the time when, at his lowest point in Thor: Ragnarok, Thor helped him to collect himself.
Their accountability with each other is reflected in Proverbs 27:17. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”. God instituted the fellowship of the believers as a way for everyone to be encouraged and inspired by the lives of their friends. So, if your brother or sister-in-Christ is in distress, offer them a helping hand, just as they also had with you.
Black Widow and Hawkeye
John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Endgame illustrated this beautifully when Natasha and Clint went after the Soul Stone. Red Skull, the overseer of Morag, tells them that in order to get the Soul Stone, one must sacrifice that which he loves most. For Black Widow and Hawkeye, it is one other. The choice now lies on who is willing to make the sacrifice. Hawkeye is compelled to make the sacrifice, as he deems his life of revenge not worth living further. But Black Widow is convinced that she must take the jump, for she wants Clint to be back with his family, and to live the life he deserves. They begin to fight each other for the opportunity to sacrifice—Natasha succeeds, leaving Clint behind, with the Soul Stone in hand.
True friendship is forged only in the furnace of affliction. Black Widow and Hawkeye’s friendship may not have seemed all that significant throughout the movies, but in the end, when life or death depends on their decisions, they are only concerned for what is best for the other and not themselves. It is rare to see someone fight you just so you can live a better life. Their friendship challenges us to always consider what is best for those who are around us. Just like Pastor Choong Tsih-Ming’s sermon on Covenantal Relationships, we should develop deep friendships in the body of Christ like that of David and Jonathan.
3. FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT, WHATEVER IT TAKES
When the Avengers manage to return the missing 50 percent of the world to existence, Thanos of the past comes to the present, destroying the Avengers’ headquarters and overpowering all of the Avengers. According to Doctor Strange, there is only one way to defeat Thanos, and it requires everything from Tony Stark.
Looking back on his life, Stark has gone from being a narcissistic military weapons creator to a loving father risking to give his life for the salvation of all. To save the world, Tony takes the stones from Thanos’ gauntlet and snaps his fingers, wiping out all of their enemies, including Thanos. He pays the price with his life so that humanity can live in peace. What makes it so admirable is that when he decided to do this mission, he already knew that he might die. But that did not stop him from going ahead with the plan.
So was it for Jesus Christ, Who, being the son of the living God, came down to earth to know what it is to be human, and then offered Himself as the living sacrifice for the sins of many, once and for all. The moment Iron Man snaps his fingers reflects the moment Jesus cried out, on the Cross, “It is finished!”. With that one move, all of man’s sin was overcome, suffering was wiped out and a new life is given to all, just because Jesus loves us. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The defining characteristic of Iron Man is that he is obedient to the mission to bring back their people and defeat Thanos—obedient to the point of death. In real life Who exhibited such obedience but Jesus Christ!
4. WE ARE ALL SUPERHEROES
Overall, Avengers: Endgame reveals the vulnerable side of our superheroes. It breaks the notion that heroes are perfect and there are no flaws in their character. This vulnerability is something that Christians should examine in their lives. Because Jesus said to His disciples in John 14:12, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Some may think of Jesus as a superhero—these Christians think they cannot do what Jesus did. But as Christians, not only are we commanded to do as Jesus did, we are given a superpower that Jesus also has— the Holy Spirit—to guide us in doing the work of the Father. We are empowered to proclaim the good news, to reach out to people, to pray for the sick, to drive out demons. We are superheroes doing what we can in our daily lives to reach out to those in need. Whatever it takes.