Growing up, my comic of choice was the Avengers. I loved the Avengers. I especially liked the West Coast Avengers. Something about these flawed heroes and their desire to team up, put their differences aside, in order to protect the world against great threats, truly spoke to me as a kid.
Based on this admission, it is probably clear that I am not anywhere impartial when it comes to Marvel Avenger movies. I watch the movies like a giddy child. The movies could be incredibly flawed and I would not care. I would watch them with a giant smile on my face.
For me, one of the most interesting things about the Avengers movies is that it seems like the main thematic message of each movie can be boiled down to one scene… one interaction between two individuals. In Avengers 1, it was the scene between Tony Stark and Loki. In that scene Tony, speaking for the entire team, comes to the precipice of understanding who “the Avengers” are and what they will ultimately stand for. In Avengers 2, the heart of the movie can be seen in the conversation between Ultron and Vision and their discussion of humanity.
Back to my initial point. In reading blogs and postings it seems many have argued that Avengers 1 is a much better film than Avengers 2. Avengers 2 is kind of clunky, has some odd rabbit holes in it, clearly has more story to tell than the amount of time to tell it. But for me, as someone with a Christian worldview, Avengers 2 was by far the superior of the two films- because I not only got to watch “my Avengers” but could relate to the main theme much better.
The major theme of Avengers 1 seemed off to me. It really comes to that scene between Loki and Tony. Loki is terrorizing world. I think his motivation could best be described as revenge. Loki wants revenge because of his dad, his upbringing, his “brother,” being left out of the will, his prior defeat… Because Thor likes Earth, Loki is going to take it and rule it. But in the scene between Tony and Loki, Tony explains that although Loki may win the battle currently raging, although Loki may conquer the world, he’s in trouble anyway- because the Avengers will get him someday. In other words, the Avengers exist to Avenge (a word strikingly similar to revenge). I loved the movie Avengers 1 but had a real hard time reconciling this theme. What made the motivations of the Avengers any different from Loki (other than the Avengers were on “our” side)? Apparently “we” were against Loki because of his vengeful attitudes, but don’t worry… we were also willing to stoop to his level if we had to? Is that the message?
Avengers 2 is a whole different ball of wax thematically. In an amazing scene between Vision and Ultron, both “robots” agree that humanity is flawed and headed for ruin. But unlike Ultron (the more human of the 2), Vision (the more robotic) see’s beauty in them anyway. Now here’s a theme I “get.” In Avengers 2 you see the clearly ridiculous motivations of some of our heroes. The biggest ridiculous move, Tony Stark builds a robot who in the end tries to bring the annihilation (or near annihilation) of all humanity. You could call building this robot a small failure on Tony’s part. So what is his solution… lets build a second one and see how that one turns out! Tony Stark’s head is stuck in the sand. Life circumstances have shaped a warped worldview for him and he is stuck in it. We get that same sort of “stuck” flawed feel from many of the Avengers. The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver serve as the foil in this movie to allow us a small glimpse into how some might view these flawed “heroes” from the outside. And yet, as the Avengers come together and put their differences aside, trying to save civilians during the movie, we also get this taste of the beauty of humanity as well.
As a Christian who shares a worldview that acknowledges both the reality and insidious nature of sin, but also a belief that humanity was created in the image of God, it was fun to watch a movie that played with some very rich theological themes (while also seeing “my” Hulk smash, Hawkeye seem out of place, Captain America shout orders, etc…). It only takes a minute of catching up on the news to see both the beauty and sin of the world. Avengers 2 does a good job wrestling with the nature of being a flawed hero in a flawed world. To see what happens when “well meaning” worldviews collide. There were some good things to think about in Avengers 2 that made any of the flaws of the film seem pretty insignificant in comparison.