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The Avengers and Jesus?

Avengers
The cast of "Avengers" return to theaters in May 2018 and May 2019 for "Avengers: Infinity War" parts one and two. |

After 10 years and 18 films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings all the superheroes together in Avengers: Infinity War.

Now, I have to admit, my wife Deborah and I enjoy these films, but we enjoy most films and franchises because we are easily entertained.

I should also admit, I am not really familiar with the comic books or the Marvel television shows.

All that to say, part of what makes these films along with the Star Wars universe or Star Trek universe is the fact that the writers and filmmakers have created an entire universe different than our own. Perhaps it is for this very reason these films are so popular. They offer an escape from reality.

Jesus Mentioned in the Avengers

It is with this in mind that I was surprised by a line in Avengers: Infinity War. When some of the superheroes meet, they immediately start fighting each other - assuming the worst in each other. There is a pause in the fighting when Dr. Strange asks Starlord: "Who is your Master?"

Starlord responds with: "Which master do I serve? What am I supposed to say? JESUS?"

That line took me completely out of the film.

As someone whose life has been forever changed by Jesus and who wants to help others find the life and freedom I have found in Jesus, I was disappointed to hear His name used as a punch line and in a way that implied following Jesus would be ridiculous.

Now, I do not expect Hollywood filmmakers or actors to act like or even talk as if they were Christ-followers. In this case though, Chris Pratt who plays Starlord actually has talked about how he found faith in Jesus and has also talked about the church where he attends. I have no doubt that Chris Pratt has a sincere faith even if the character Peter Quill does not. Chris Pratt is simply an actor sharing a line the writer, producer, and director thought would be funny.

The catch is that in this case no one laughed in my theater.

We saw the movie at 9am on opening day in Austin, a city where only 13% of people attend church. If a secular crowd didn't laugh, I don't imagine many others have laughed.

Aliens Who Need Jesus?

Years ago I heard a fascinating interview where Billy Graham discussed life on other planets. He was very clear that his imaginative idea is not in the Bible, but he liked to imagine that Christ-followers would be sent from heaven on missions to share the message of Jesus to aliens on other planets. Since Satan is the "god of this world" perhaps that is why Jesus came to defeat sin and death on our world.

That idea completely intrigued me! I love the idea of interstellar travel as missionaries for Jesus!

You can hear Billy Graham share this idea at the 16 minute mark.

How cool would it be for Christ-followers from earth traveling to Asgard, Hala, Tatooine, Dagobah, Endor, Remus, Kronos, and the list could go on and on!?

Self-Sacrificing Superheroes

Back to reality...

Like most of Western literature, the Avengers films (and I assume the comic books) have taken the story of Jesus and adopted it as part of their plot. How many times have we seen Thor, Iron Man, Spiderman, or any of the other superheroes sacrifice their life so that others would be rescued and yet they came back from the dead?!

We see this in so many films and stories!

Superman, Starlord (half man, half god), Harry Potter, Neo from the Matrix, ObiWan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker (who was also born of a virgin), and on and on.

Perhaps in spite of the sarcastic line about Jesus which was meant to bring a laugh, some will remember back to their childhood or start on a journey like Andrew Klavan, a novelist and Hollywood screenwriter.

As they search for Truth and the Ultimate hero, they will come across the original story of the self-sacrifice of the One True God who came to rescue us by sacrificing His life and then raising from the dead.

In The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ, Andrew Klavan writes:

"I began to understand that at the heart of all Western mythology, all Western civilization, all Western writing, all Western thought, and every Western ideal, there stood a single book, the Bible, and a single man, Jesus of Nazareth. I decided I ought to find out more about them both."

Klavan also writes:

"God is not susceptible to proofs and disproofs.
If you believe, the evidence is all around you.
If you don't believe, no evidence can be enough."

All that to say, superheroes films can be fun distractions. I just think mixing in a joke about Jesus was a distraction to the fun.

More importantly, Jesus is my Master, and I am so glad I've discovered the Truth which has inspired all sorts of mythologies.

*****SPOILER ALERT*****

*****DON'T READ BELOW IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR*****

In light of the ending of the Avengers: Infinity War, I would not be surprised at all if one of the original heroes from the first few films ends up dying to bring back to life the new Avengers who "died" at the end of this film.

Some clues include:

  • Consider there are sequels in the works for characters who have "died."
  • Consider Captain America saying: "We don't trade lives."
  • Consider how Thanos sacrificed his daughter to get the Soul Stone.

My guess is that the "dead" Avengers are probably waiting for a Messiah to give his life so that they can come back to life.

Dr. Eric Bryant is a pastor at Gateway Church in South Austin, author of Not Like Me: Loving, Serving, and Influencing Our Divided World, and creator of The Church Growth Workshop.Find free resources at www.ericbryant.org.

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