Avengers: Infinity War, starring basically everyone (rated PG-13)
–Review by Ashley Linne
***SPOILER ALERT! SO MANY SPOILERS!***
I am a huge fan of the Marvel cinematic universe, and I’ve also read a few of the comics. I’m familiar with the comic book storyline that the Infinity War movies are drawing from. Even so, I was not fully prepared for the emotional roller coaster of this movie. If you want more spoilers than that, I’m about to give you a few but they’re also all over the internet: this is one of those rare films where everybody dies and the bad guy wins.
The film is full of semiotic goodness. What I want to call out from the movie is the character of Thanos and his roles of father and god.
Thanos seems to have some really good intentions. He wants to see the universe in balance. He wants people to live their best life now. The problem is, he thinks he is the best one to judge what that balance is, and who deserves to live or die. He selects them by hand. He convinces those people, and himself, that he loves them. That he knows what’s best for them and they should surrender their will to him because he’s saving them.
Thanos sees the torture of his daughter Nebula as justified and beautiful, almost like a work of art. She is paying for her sin of betraying him.
Thanos sacrifices his daughter Gamora to complete his mission. The scene is masterfully done; Gamora thinks it’s the end of the line when Thanos is required to sacrifice what he loves, because she thinks he is incapable of love. With horror she realizes this is not the case; his narcissistic version of love results in her death.
Thanos snaps his fingers and half the life in the universe turns to dust. He has all the power and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. And he sits in serene satisfaction at the end.
Do you see some of the issues here? In many parts of our society, the so-called Christian god has become a caricature. People think he is more like Thanos than anything. A god on an ego trip trying to control the world and people’s destinies, propagating things like “predestination” and “atonement.” A narcissist who punishes people eternally for not loving him. An unhinged parent who tortures and kills his own kids. A power monger who brings on apocalypse and minions who are trying to help it come faster. And a ton of crazy followers who surrender their will to his and have some bizarre form of Stockholm syndrome.
There is a lot of conversation to have around the character of Thanos. People struggle with the idea of a good God letting evil exist, how a loving God would send people to hell, why a Father would torture and kill His own Son, and why people would willingly surrender their lives to such a Person. These are legitimate issues that people we know and love are dealing with, and as their pastors, shepherds, family, and friends we have to find ways of entering into those places of struggle with them. Not to prove ourselves right, but to really walk alongside them in a journey to Truth and healing.
And let’s be honest; we deal with these same struggles, don’t we?
I highly recommend this film and I commend the filmmakers for the risks they took with it. Killing off characters they’ve spent a decade developing was a very bold move. I don’t know if they intended to give such a vivid portrayal of a false god on screen but in my eyes they did, masterfully.