Please be assured this article does not include any spoilers! Though I can’t imagine many of you have not seen, or heard about this film – one of the most talked about films of all time.
Along with millions around the globe, my family went to see Avengers: Endgame when it was released several weeks ago. Many cinemas gave all their screens over to showing this film to keep up with the unprecedented demand. As I write, the movie is currently second in the all-time grossing films having generated $2.75 billion worldwide (behind Avatar which has grossed $2.78 billion, but that was released in 2009). By the time you read this article, Avengers: Endgame will, probably, have become the highest grossing film ever – in record time.
Avengers: Endgame is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comprising 22 films that have made more than $19 billion worldwide (Marvel have recently announced that a 22-volume box set will be released later in the year – another guaranteed money spinner!).
You’ve probably guessed that I’m a bit of a Marvel geek and I have to confess that we (my family) have watched every one of those 22 films over the last eleven years. They have provided a backdrop to my children’s formative years (and beyond) as well as creating many interesting conversations around the dinner table when we’ve: delved deeper into the plots; discussed the common links between the films; found ourselves excited by the after credit scene teasers; and shared our own theories of what might happen in the end (FYI, my prediction proved to be correct. You?).
Endgame picks up where Infinity War ended. Supervillain Thanos acquired the universe’s six infinity stones at the end of Infinity War, giving him God-like powers and allowing him to destroy half the universe’s population because, in his view, the universe didn’t have enough resources to support everyone. This resulted in many of our heroes, including Colonel Fury, Spider-Man and Black Panther, disappearing.
Some suggest the story for Infinity War and Endgame is based on the book of Revelation with a ‘rapture’ and the ‘final apocalypse’ and there is some merit in this given Thanos’ thirst for power ‘to be like a God’ is similar to Satan’s thirst ‘to be like God’ and his ultimate Endgame to destroy all that is good in this world (Isaiah 14:12). It certainly wouldn’t be an over-exaggeration to say that the ending was of truly Biblical proportions.
But how, and why, would a three-hour movie about comic book heroes gather such attention? Part of the answer is its excellence: the movie received an amazing 96% score on the ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ review site. Another reason is the way it depicts our heroes making good their failures – a very human characteristic despite their superpowers.
There are more than thirty main characters in the series and include: a raccoon named Rocket and his mobile tree friend, Groot; a tiny superhero (Ant-Man); a giant superhero (Hulk); two Captains (America and Marvel); a scientist (Iron Man); a surgeon (Dr Strange); a love-struck romantic (Star Lord); an arrogant know-all (Thor); an assassin (Black Widow); a brawler (Drax the Destroyer) and so I could go on. Which is your favourite?
Marvel fans will particularly enjoy the first third of the closing credits, which showcases each character with a brief stand-alone tribute. It’s a fitting end to a cultural phenomenon that’s lasted more than a decade.
None of the superheroes could have sustained the franchise alone. Nor could they defeat their cinematic enemies by themselves. Their intertwined stories make the long-running series especially compelling. And, taken together, these incredibly popular movies tell us something vital about ourselves and our culture.
And those who have watched all the films feel part of this alternate Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s as though the Avengers inhabit a world we wish we could join, with clear lines between good and evil, a world where heroes are willing to risk everything to save each other and the worlds they serve.
This strikes a chord in us because it resonates with God’s design for us as human beings. Indeed, it was part of Jesus’ ministry:
You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served – and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage (Matthew 20:24-28, The Message).
May God’s blessing be upon you as you ‘risk everything’ to continue the fight for all that is good in our world.
This is a copy of my article for the July 2019 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’