On Thursday night I packed up the family and met some friends for one of this summer’s blockbuster movies, The Avengers: Age of Ultron. We sat in anticipation, through 45 minutes of previews, to see the next epic, in the tale of The Avengers. Two plus hours later, I must admit, on a entertainment level, I was entertained. I enjoyed the story, the character development, and of course the cliff hanger for the next installment of Marvel movies.
Yet I was also disappointed, and at times upset. Honestly, I don’t know why it surprises me still that our Hollywood culture projects an image of a Biblical worldview in a negative light, even in a movie like The Avengers. The Apostle John, thousands of years ago writes, ” Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you” (1 John 3:13 ESV). Jesus tells us why the world hates us “I have given them your word” (1 John 17:14a ESV). A Biblical worldview is attacked from many fronts in our world, so it shouldn’t surprise us when we see it poked at in a movie like The Avengers.
Recently, I reviewed Developing A Biblical Worldview by C. Fred Smith, I would like to use his paradigm of who are we? Where are we? What is wrong? What is the solution? To examine and point out some of my disappointments with The Avengers.
Who Are We?
In The Avengers we (humanity) are a product of evolution. We have evolved through years and years. Evolution is referenced a few times throughout the movie, but another aspect we seem to casually glance over is the reason genetic enhancement, a super soldier or a Hulk, is possible because of evolution. Humanity is still evolving, even if it is by genetic programs or a lab experiment gone bad. Humanity is still surviving.
You may be thinking Thor isn’t human. Right, Thor is Asgardian. Unlike mythology, Thor is an alien king from Asgard, one of the other dimensions. His enhancements seem to be a part of who he is.
On the other hand “survival of the fittest” is not the motto of The Avengers. The Avengers use their evolution to become heroes, they protect humanity from the evil of ourselves, aliens from other dimensions, and so on. The world is worth saving. Their goal is to create a world in which The Avengers are not needed, a world of peace.
Which is not possible because the answer to the “who are we” question in The Avengers is still “we are broken people.” Humanity, even Asgard, is full of pride, selfishness, what Christians call sin. The banter of who the better man is between Thor and Stark is a great example of selfish pride. In one part of the movie Wanda Maximoff (AKA Scarlett Witch) uses their own brokenness to cause The Avengers to fight against each other.
Where are we?
The Avengers live on earth, well most of them anyway. An Earth which is evolving with them. But in The Avengers Earth, they are just one world of many. There are other dimensions and worlds out there. The answer to, are we alone, has been answered. They are not alone.
More importantly is the reality of their world. Here and now is the ultimate reality. There is no mention of the afterlife, God, heaven or hell. Which is why Stark can live how he wants, or why morality changes from generation to generation. A good example of this was the constant poking at Captain America for being offended at Stark’s language. If here and now is the ultimate reality, the here and now is constantly changing, so everything is relative.
Although there are beings that exist outside of earth, there is no mention of a personal God. The only allusions to a god, seem to be created by The Avengers, the villains, or the perception of people who see The Avengers as gods. Which is interesting because in an evolutionary/secular worldview, many would say the idea of god is created by humanity.
What is wrong?
Humanity is wrong. Alien invasions are wrong. Evil is wrong. This is what is wrong in The Avengers. All these wrongs lead to conflicts, the battle for good to triumph over evil. In order to bring peace to the world Stark, with the help of Dr. Banner, harnesses the power of Loki’s staff (yes I am a Marvel enthusiast) to create Ultron, the Ultron program is created to bring world peace. To prevent the evils of humanity or alien. Unfortunately for Stark, his Ultron experiment goes wrong, gets a messiah complex and begins the process to wipe out the world of evil. What does that mean? If humanity is what’s wrong, humanity needs to be wiped out, starting with The Avengers.
What is the solution?
Avengers assemble. The Avengers assemble to attempt to defeat the Ultron experiment. In order to defeat Ultron, Stark and Banner create another experiment with the mind of Jarvis, Starks AI from Ironman. When it is created, he uses the Biblical name of God, I Am, to describe himself. Which I must admit was disturbing.
In a world where humanity is wrong and the ultimate reality is the here and now. The solution to the problems are found from within us. Humanity evolves to prevent their extinction. Humanity evolves and creates their own gods. The solution is us. The solution is evolution.
Throughout the movie there seems to be little jabs thrown at Christianity, I must admit I chuckled at a couple. As Stark was flying the team, a sticker is shown stating “Jarvis is my copilot”. Another example is when Captain America is offended by the bad language, which turns into a running joke throughout the movie. For me the most disturbing was when Vision uses the “I Am” reference when speaking of himself.
What are some positives?
Saving the world
The world is worth saving. Even God believes so,
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)
The fight for good and evil, for the right to triumph over the wrong. The struggle is real, which is one of the reasons we enjoy these movies so much. Good triumphs over evil.
When we sit back and watch The Avengers we see a group of broken people come together to accomplish a mission. Broken people with their own separate issues, brokenness, gifts, and talents put aside their differences to achieve a common goal. Sounds like the church.
One of the highlights of this movie is the high view of family. Yes, the high view of family. At one point in the movie The Avengers need to get off the grid. Hawkeye takes them to a safe house, which turns out to be his house. Much to the teams surprise, Hawkeye is welcomed by his family, who was kept off the grid as a condition for Hawkeye joining the team. The family is strong, Hawkeye is a good husband and father. He is welcomed with love by his wife and kids. Hawkeye’s family is something the other Avengers desire.
We also learn Black Widow can no longer have children because as part of her training they perform surgery to prevent her from getting pregnant. When this comes up in the movie it is portrayed as something so wrong that was done to her. Children are something she longs for. The fact that she can’t have children hurts her deeply. Family and children are held up high, which is refreshing.
I must admit I was proud of my kids because on the drive home we talked about the story, the next movies, and of course Marvel Agents of Shield (a household favorite). We also talked about the jabs at Christians, which they caught while being entertained by a movie. They are learning to filter what they see and that makes me proud. One of my kids said “if they continue to do that I am not going to watch them anymore.”
Until Next Time
Solo Deo Gloria