Does God exist in the MCU? That’s a commonly asked question. The Marvel universe, beginning in the comics and extending into movies and television, is replete with gods and god-like characters. Except for a tongue-in-cheek reference by Captain America in Marvel’s The Avengers, our Triune God does not appear in these films. Yet, as with much of pop culture, reflections of God’s presence and influence are ubiquitous in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
At Think Christian, we look at how pop culture interacts with God’s story. In what ways do we see biblical truths reflected in characters, plot, theme, and visuals? How do we see the gospel or our need for it? The articles below tackle these questions in the first three phases of the MCU.
As Think Christian didn’t shift its focus to pop culture until 2017, we admittedly arrived a little late to the MCU party. Despite teasy post-credit scenes, the early films came across mostly as unconnected one-offs until Marvel’s The Avengers finally hit theaters, which is where our coverage began.
Christian humanism is a blending of respect for imago dei with reverence for the Almighty. The Avengers, by the very nature of its narrative, forgets the Almighty part.
The second phase of MCU films features more direct sequels (Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World) and introduces more characters (Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man). Yet, many installments could stand alone, with little more than a dotted line connecting each other—at least up to Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 offer theological reminders that we're closer to comic-book villains than heroes.
Just as the church has been a collection of people from every background, the characters in Guardians of the Galaxy learn to care for each other as they transform from individual, selfish mercenaries to a found family working for the greater good.
Amidst the bombast of Avengers: Age of Ultron is a quiet, intriguing conversation that pits two visions of humanity against each other. If Stark’s lab is a modern-day Eden of sorts, Ultron has gone straight for the apple and taken a big chomp.
The movies of the third phase of the MCU are like roads converging on Rome. With a few exceptions (Black Panther, for example), most installments firmly drive toward a culmination of the central story: the battle against Thanos.
In many ways the Avengers function as an intentional spiritual community: individuals living and ministering together with the goal of becoming something greater. Captain America: Civil War shows us a community in conflict.
Although it's far from orthodox, Doctor Strange at least allows faith to enter the materialist Marvel universe.
Kurt Russell's character in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a powerful creator, but his God-like qualities end there.
From Joseph’s robe to Peter Parker's suit, costumes serve as markers, status symbols, and emblems of authority.
Between the laughs, Thor: Ragnarok offers a challenge for any nation state willfully blind to its own sinful history.
Questions of identity and justice power this Marvel superhero saga. How might Christians answer?
Minority moviegoers have responded so strongly to the priestly kingdom of Wakanda because it’s reminiscent of the biblical vision of Zion.
There are plenty of sacrificial acts in Infinity War, but how well do they evoke the work of the cross?
What defines the villain of the Ant-Man sequel? An inability to forgive.
Captain Marvel is christological in the way she defends the foreigners among us. This is not just another thin Christ figure.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as in Scripture, death is not the end. It’s only natural for fans to walk into Endgame hoping for some of the damage to be reversed.
Revisiting a sacrificial scene from Infinity War, Endgame gives a fuller picture of what it means to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
In Spider-Man: Far From Home, a new character to the MCU demonstrates the difference between being a symbol and being a servant.