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John A. Braun
Captain America; Thor; Iron Man; and of course, Thanos. Along with a host of other comic book heroes, they have helped Marvel create one of the most successful and lucrative series of films. This year’s film Avengers: Endgame, with a production budget of $356 million, has taken in over $900 million. How many saw it is just a guess. When I finally went to see it, I paid $7—I get a senior discount—and there were only three of us in the theater.
My take on the movie is a bit different from most. I was intrigued by the Thanos character. His name, Thanos, might be a shortened version of the Greek word for “death,” thanatos. That fits him since he plans to destroy enough humans to create a more reasonable, sustainable world.
The Avengers oppose him and use their power to keep him from destroying so many people. After their defeat in Infinity War, the Avengers create a new strategy to overcome Thanos, the dispenser of death. Spoiler alert: One of the Avengers, Iron Man, succeeds in destroying death itself but in the process must die. Avengers: Endgame concludes with his funeral.
It isn’t hard to see where I’m going. Almost all those who saw the movie have a yearning for a happy ending where all things lead to the hope of a better world and a brighter future. They also know the real world and see that it is in need of some kind of correction. But this movie is entertainment and not the real world. Once we leave the screen behind and come out of the theater, we step back into the world that hasn’t changed and still brings pain, misery, and heartache.
We need these diversions. I know I do. The Avengers movies are only the latest versions that give us an escape from the pressing burden of our own life’s challenges and difficulties. We watch the news and are acutely aware of the surrounding uncertainty of politics, finances, and conflict around the world. With entertainment, we can forget about life for a while.
What struck me about this particular distraction was the mythology it created. Death is defeated, but only digitally—not really. Ah, most viewers sigh, if it were only true. But I know that death actually has been defeated. Unfortunately, so many of those who left the theaters haven’t read about the real victory over death. They are left with only the illusion of victory and triumph.
It is difficult for Christians to get an audience for the message of Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the forces of darkness. Most people do not have time for the gospel or simply dismiss it as irrelevant for their busy lives. C. S. Lewis tried to get an audience when he created Aslan, a fictional lion, who died and rose again in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from “The Chronicles of Narnia” series. Aslan is the king of beasts, a lion of great power and wisdom. Lewis patterned his lion, in some ways, after the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5).
This Lion of Judah, we know, is the Root of David, King of kings, and our Savior. He has triumphed over all that oppresses God’s people. In the new song choirs of heaven sing, they acclaim him worthy “for [he was] slain, and by [his] blood [he] ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (5:9 English Standard Version).
I’m glad I can leave the theater praising the One who has really overcome death and darkness. With him, I can face life’s trials. I wish more knew of him and could also praise him.
Author: John A. Braun
Volume 106, Number 10
Issue: October 2019