Posts Tagged ‘Captain America’

Second-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Poster-High-ResCombining two aliens, a tree, a talking raccoon, and a man sounds like a recipe for a bad joke. To be completely honest, that is exactly what I thought Guardians of the Galaxy would be—a likable and well-executed joke. “It’s a Marvel movie, so it can’t be that bad,” I said to myself, expecting a box office disaster all the while. The results are now in, and I was wrong. Guardians had a huge opening weekend ( $94 million); and, much to my surprise, I really enjoyed the film. It is the ultimate summer blockbuster and one of the best Marvel movies to date. That being said, this post will be a little different than my usual fare. First, I want to provide a few bullet point thoughts about why this movie is so much fun. Then, for something a little more serious, I’ll focus on the team of guardians themselves and attempt to show what sets them apart from other comic book superheroes.

  • Pop Culture references. Kevin Bacon, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, the MacGuffin, and The Giving Tree are just a few that I can think of off the top of my head. Oh, and if you stay until the credits are over (which you should always do in a Marvel movie), you just might get a glimpse of … I won’t ruin it for you.
  • The soundtrack. Aside from being a tremendous amount of fun, the hits from the ’70s and ‘80s remind us that, unlike the majority of characters in the film, protagonist Peter Quill (Chris Pratt)—who goes by the name Star-Lord—is an earthling. The soundtrack also provides seasoned (i.e. older) audience members with something familiar, which is important when you’re dealing with an ostensibly campy movie about a talking raccoon and tree.
  • Genre blending. Comedy, action, romance, and heart-warming moments: Guardians has it all, deftly blended and served in perfectly portioned bites.
  • The thinking audience. Guardians spends very little time explaining its intergalactic politics to the audience, and it is all the better movie as a result. Instead of giving us a five-minute monologue or title card sequence explaining the backstory, the filmmakers assume that their audience can connect point A to point B. That’s a rare thing nowadays.

 

In addition to all of these really fun aspects, Guardians of the Galaxy invites more thoughtful consideration by giving us a group of unconventional heroes. Impolite, unpolished, and socially challenged, these guardians are like the mischievous stepchildren of Steve Rogers, the straight-laced Captain America. They are, in fact, antiheroes. Why, then, do we cheer for them, stand alongside them, and sympathize with them? The answer, in part, is that in our broken, fallen, and sin-stained world, our heroes often have more in common with the Guardians of the Galaxy than they do with Captain America (I like the Captain America movies, by the way). We all love a hero we can put on a pedestal and admire without fear, knowing that he or she will always do the right thing, will always save the world. That’s one reason Superman has endured for over 75 years. But in reality, heroes are often flawed and depraved and not near-perfect pictures of Christ. After all, any good that human heroes are able to do is solely because of God’s common grace in spite of human sinfulness. In this respect, Guardians gives us some of the most lifelike heroes we’ve ever seen.

So, if you’re going to see Guardians of the Galaxy, have fun, look for the Pop Culture references, and enjoy the soundtrack. Then, think about this strange group of heroes. You can leave the theater comforted by the fact that the sovereign Lord—not Star-Lord—guards the universe.

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iron_man_3_official-wideIron Man 3 opens in the US tomorrow, but it has already made $195.3 million dollars overseas. (In other news, some celebrities have chosen to live off of $1.50 a day to raise awareness for world poverty.) It’s not like we need these recent box office figures to tell us that super heroes are a big deal. For starters, IM3 is the third film in the franchise, telling us that it has been successful. Secondly, the theaters will be graced with many other super heroes this summer: Superman, Wolverine, Kick-#$@ 2, & Jay Gatsby, just to name a few. So why exactly do we continue to dish out the big bucks for these heroes?

Superheroes Are Cool

There’s no doubt that superheroes are fun. It’s probably safe to say that we’ve dreamed of being a superhero at some point in our life. Whether it was on the playground at recess or taking our favorite blanket and jumping around in our room, we love to save someone in danger. Let’s face it, superheroes come off looking pretty cool because of all the saving and all the awesome feats they can perform. Which leads me to my next reason.

Superpowers Are Cool

If you could pick one superpower, what would it be? Flying? Laser Beams? Invisibility? There are many cool powers to pick from and we could get into nerd debates over which is the best, but the various powers bestowed upon these various heroes are pretty cool. Thor has super-strength with a flying hammer, Hulk is even stronger and turns green, Captain America can…throw a shield, and Tony Stark is super-smart leading him to build a super-suit.

Being Super-flawed Isn’t Cool

These are a couple of reasons why superheroes are so cool, but I don’t think they are solely what resonates with us. I think superheroes strike such a chord with us, because we are super-flawed. I think the coolness lies in the contrast of who mankind is because of the fall. Ever since we sinned against God, our bodies are now wasting away. They can’t move faster than a speeding bullet, they can’t leap over a building in a single bound. Truth be told our bodies are achy. The older we get we make more statements like, “I used to be able to do this” or “My back hurts.” Whatever the ailment, our bodies are vulnerable to more than kryptonite.

You see, it’s our deep flaws that illustrate the deep need we have for a Hero. Not only are our bodies, literally turning to dust; they are just a glimpse as to what is taking place in our hearts. Our hearts are dark and we are in desperate need of saving. We judge others, we gossip, we lie, we think sinful thoughts, we don’t serve others like we should, we don’t love others like we should, we think of self first, we don’t give God the worship he deserves, we hoard, we cheat, we still, we curse, the list goes on and on, but it illustrates the fact that we sincerely need a super Hero. Listen to Paul in Colossians 1:

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Enjoy the superheroes you see this summer at the local cineplex, but remember they are but a tiny glimpse of the True Hero, Jesus Christ.

Whether you are a Marvel comic book junkie (not me) or just a love a good action film (me), The Avengers promises to be be your flick. Check out the trailer…

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Captain America…Check. The Hulk…check. Iron Man…Check. Thor…Check. Hawkeye and Black Widow…Check?

Okay…well even if the Avengers team seems a bit random to me, they look poised and ready to take on Loki – who is bent on dominating the Earth with his evil ways (and his sweet hair).

Since he has already seen the film, Emilio will wax eloquently on the Avengers tomorrow – giving you a much more well-developed perspective on this film. Today, I will merely stir the pot a bit.

Watching that trailer again got me thinking. In the midst of the many explosions, Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man) says, “If we can’t protect the earth…you can be damn sure we’ll avenge it.” (cue…awesomeness)

Violent action films (violence in general) have been the subject of debate for Christians over the years. Just how should Christians think about violence – especially the concept of vengeance? Some read the gospels and would like to say that Jesus was a pacifist. Violence is simply off limits for Christians. Others prefer to point to Revelation 19 – Jesus, the Rider on the white horse, bringing war upon his enemies. So which is right? WWJD?

Let’s focus on the concept of vengeance for a moment?

In the book of Romans we read, “17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary,“if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21 – emphasis mine)

Seems pretty clear, right…no vengeance. If Iron Man becomes a follower of Jesus, he needs to find a new career. Or does he?

In the next chapter Paul discusses the role of the governing authorities. “1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer (Romans 13:1-4 – emphasis also mine).

I said I would stir the pot a bit. Here goes…

  • What do you do with these passages?
  • Is it okay for the Avengers to “protect” the earth, but not to “avenge” it?
  • Shouldn’t Nick Fury’s crew just leave vengeance to God or are they “God’s avengers” – acting on behalf of the governing authorities?

Oh…and…

  • Why do you and I love watching evil people like Loki get what’s coming to him?

I recently discussed these kinds of questions with some friends. It was interesting to hear the varied perspectives among Christians. So where do you land? Maybe you prefer to ignore these questions and would rather watch Avengers in blissful peace. It is just a story after all, right?

Yes, The Avengers is just a story, but every story must still come under the reign of Jesus Christ. Christians should be able to converse about these difficult things.

Well, consider the pot stirred…enjoy!

There is much to say about Marvel’s most recent superhero flick. Viewers will enjoy lots of action, an interesting (although predictable) plot line, and fascinating characters. Check out the video below for a peek.

While Capt. America may receive high marks for entertainment value, there are a couple particular themes that make this film an interesting one to consider watching.

The first theme is that of beauty or maybe I should say sexuality. This is by no means a major theme in CA. I only mention it because of what was noticeably missing from this film – as opposed to most action flicks…a “hot chick.”

While there is a beautiful “love interest” (Hayley Atwell) to play opposite the Captain, she is presented in a way that stands in sharp contrast to many of the leading ladies of contemporary action films (examples that will remain nameless, cough, Transformers, cough). Sadly, sex sells and the “hot chick” has replaced the leading lady – who might actually be cast for more than her physical features. While I don’t want to blow this out of proportion, I simply want to note that it is refreshing to have a beautiful female character that is presented in a way that I don’t have to cover the eyes of my sons – let alone my own.

The second theme to note in the film is that of goodness – the very quality that makes the Captain a different kind of hero. The story of Captain America is compelling largely because it is a story of the weak becoming strong – the insignificant becoming great. In this story, the weak and wimpy Steve Rogers (Chris Evans with the help of CGI) is chosen to participate in a secret army program that exists to create the ultimate super-soldier. Dr. Erskine, creator of a new technology, chooses Rogers because of his inner character – the fact that he is a “good” man – as opposed to the usual soldier qualifications, physical strength and combat ability.

On the night before Rogers is to undergo the “treatment,” he asks Dr. Erskine why he was chosen. Erskine tells Rogers that the chemical treatment magnifies what is on the inside of a person. Good become great. Bad becomes worse. He explains that it is Rogers’ physical weakness and his innate goodness that makes him the ideal candidate. He says, “a weak man knows the value of strength, knows the value of power.” He closes their conversation by exhorting Steve to, “stay who you are, not just a soldier, but a good man.”

How should we think about this pivotal (and touching) conversation from a biblical perspective? Two thoughts…

First, we know that inherent human goodness is a wish dream. While championed as common wisdom, this worldview is misguided. Scripture tells us that people are inherently wicked – no one is good (Romans 3:10-18). Psalm 51 teaches that we didn’t even begin life “good” – our sinful condition existed pre-birth. If any human were to undergo Dr. Erskine’s treatment, the result would not be a superhero, but rather a super-villain. The magnification of my inner character would produce of a terrible beast. Although we all want to imagine that our “inner beauty” will win the day, the truth is that the doctrine of total depravity teaches otherwise. Humanity needs a different kind of “treatment” – the “beast” needs to be transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Second, Dr. Erskine tells Rogers that because he understands weakness, he is better suited to exhibit compassion. As redeemed sinners – transformed by the Gospel, Christians should lead the way in compassion. When we truly understand the depths of our sin and the power of Christ to save us – not just from the penalty of sin, but also from its power over us – we will be different! Christians do understand weakness, but through the presence of the Holy Spirit, they now live powerful lives – lives of compassion!

The Gospel magnifies Christ in us – not a better us in us!!! When we come to grips with the biblical view of sin and our need for Jesus Christ, we will become a people who may actually make a difference in the world.