Hypocritical Humanism in The Avengers

Josh Larsen

May 9, 2012

As my wife and I left the theater, we wondered the EXACT same thing aloud as Josh commented here...were Loki's comments completely off base? Aren't we as humans (God's wonderful creation) made to serve our maker? And as we serve him, our life is easier, more understandable and complete? Loki certainly was made to look like the loon when he gets his comeuppance at the end, so thus his thoughts are thrashed about as silly just as he was by the one particular character. But is being "Lord" in all instances really that freeing, people of earth?

May 9, 2012

I went to see THE AVENGERS with my pastor. We are both comic book nerds and had gained the glad permission of the women in our lives to revel in this "guilty pleasure" without their company. We knew we wanted lots of action, lots of cheesy moralistic sentiment, and for the good guys to triumph over seemingly impossible odds. We were not disappointed.

I think what makes movies like this so attractive is that it taps into the natural human yearning--the "superman" urge--to be something more and better. One of my favorite parts about the Captain America movie is Dr. Erskine's explanation to Steve Rogers that the super-soldier serum amplifies more than just the recipient's physical attributes. It also amplifies all aspects of personality--for better or worse. That was what made a puny guy with a golden heart a more attractive candidate for the program than the muscular bully Tommy Lee Jones' character favored. That's one of the themes I definitely picked up on in the Avengers: humans can be more and better when they find purpose in serving others rather than pursuing self-aggrandizement.

God may not exist in Stan Lee's fictional utopia; but morally speaking, it reminds me of a certain Kingdom another "superman" named Jesus once announced.

Nick Olson
May 9, 2012

Nice piece, Josh.

Yes, Loki was an interesting character for Christians to consider. For me it was not only his musings about humans being meant to be ruled, but also his mocking of humanistic freedom, particularly since autonomy is modern society's highest virtue.

In a sense, Loki reminded me of Ledger's Joker, who I thought was often speaking some truth about humanity in THE DARK KNIGHT.

And I like your description of Christian humanism.

Good thoughts.

John Thompson
May 22, 2012

Though not nearly as deep or meaningful, I loved when Black Widow commented on Thor and Loki's battle - calling them "gods" - and Captain America said, "There's only one God, ma'am, and I don't think He dresses like that." Between that and his concern that the "stars and stripes" might be a little old-fashioned I really felt like the film twitched toward a more traditional, monotheistic and even moralistic ethic that has been all but absent in Hollywood for a long time. Just the idea that there is a higher calling than self-preservation, wealth, power... that's something!

Also, when a villain says something with no truth in it, there's really nothing to be scared of. The power behind The Joker, Loki, Darth Vader or even Hannibal Leckter is that there is some truth behind their evil.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
May 22, 2012

Ooh, I like that last bit John. Perhaps a good way to distinguish between an average movie villain and a great one.

Andy Doerksen
August 23, 2018

John already quoted it, but six years later it bears repeating: "old-fashioned" Captain America declaring, "There's only one God, ma 'am - and I'm pretty sure He doesn't dress like that."

Nor do big-budget, high-profile 21st-century movies "talk" like that. A shocking and wonderful line that, at the very least, makes this particular superhero film inclusive toward Christians.

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