Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of 11 years of story development and 22 movies, starting with Iron Man in 2008. It can easily be consider the most anticipated movie of this millennia to date. As of the writing of these show notes, it has been in general release for 24 days. In that time, it has a global box office gross of $2,564,205,870. If it were a country, it would be richer than 23 countries. In the world of movies, Avengers: Endgame is a big deal.

On the opening weekend, more than 100,000,000 people saw it. This movie represents a platform the likes of which has never before been seen . . . anywhere. With such an unbelievable platform, what kind of messages will the movie be supporting? Eve and I have been anticipating Endgame like so many others. Now that we’ve seen it, we get together to discuss some of the themes in the movie: Sacrifice, Family, Morality and a grateful world. Beware, though, unlike most of our initial reactions, there is NO SPOILER-FREE ZONE! We jump right into it, practically from word one . . . so if you have not seen Avengers: Endgame yet . . . stop reading now!

Like all of the MCU movies, the music of Avengers: Endgame is a mix of original composition and era specific pop music. The original music is composed by the Avenger of music himself, Alan Silvestri. He’s scored more MCU offerings than any other composer. Along with Infinity War and Endgame, Silvestri also composed the scores for Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Like most of the other movies, the writers of Endgame did a good job balancing emotion and comic timing, even in the face of a very, very dark opening. This was particularly important, given the run time of Endgame was 3 hours, 58 seconds.  Even with the length, they still communicated a lot of information with a great deal of efficiency.

Even still, there were some things that were obtrusively unnecessary—gratuitous, even. In the final battle scene, there is a completely disruptive moment where all of the female heroes manage to get together for a women’s power moment that both Eve and I really felt had a negative impact on the movie.

There is also an issue with the level of power for each of the heroes and villains in the movie. In Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers is set up as a super powerful force that could go toe to toe with Thanos, yet in Endgame, she seems to be performing at the same level as Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. (Not to mention needing help to get through a few hundred henchman.) Thanos, through the wonders of time travel, appears at the final battle with none of the infinity stones, yet somehow is still able to withstand a directed assault by these heroes, even though in Infinity War he had the stones yet still seemed to be more evenly matched.

A negative from Endgame that we both found distracting and disheartening was the highlighting of bad language for humor’s sake. At least two comedy bits relied on the use of foul language—once even with a four year old. Both could have been rewritten or even eliminated without impacting the movie in any significant way. These were little more than a thumbing of the nose at the prudes who object to a four year old repeatedly dropping the “s” bomb.

Avengers: Endgame has a lot of time travel built into the story. The way they handle these are by inserting our modern day heroes into scenes from earlier MCU offerings, like the original Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy. The skill with which they integrated the actors into these earlier stories was exceptional. It had smart writing and great cinematics.

The REAL Hero of Endgame

For my part, I am unhappy with the more and more constant injections of blatant social commentary into these movies. Not only was there the “women’s power” scene in the final battle, but Captain America himself is used to demonstrate sly support of the LGBT movement. He offers word of encouragement to a grieving man who discusses his date with another man. It’s not so much that Rodgers supports the relationship, but that it was included in the movie in the first place. Rather than leaving social issues like this out of the movie entirely, they inject a worldview and social position—one that is contrary to the expressed will of God. I thought I was used to it, but seeing it delivered through this supposedly godly man who stands for a level of truth, justice, and the American way to which most people can only aspire, really frustrated me. And while I may be overly frustrated, this issued does bring to mind some scripture:

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

But you are to proclaim things consistent with sound teaching.” (Titus 2:1)

But the cowards, faithless, detestable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars—their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelations 21:8)

I do want to end my “likes & dislikes” on a positive point, though. From a technical standpoint, the aging, de-aging, and other physical modifications in Endgame is outstanding. A 40-year-younger Stan Lee has a cameo, along with a decade young Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. Early on in the movie, a badly malnourished Tony Stark looks to be about 75 lbs soaking wet, and it looks completely realistic. They really did a very good job with the CGI modification of the actors—surpassing even what we saw in Captain Marvel with Sam Jackson and Clark Gregg. Another example of how good computers are getting at creating faces can be found here.

Still Doomed?

The solution brought about by the Avengers involved bringing everyone lost to the snap back, five years later. After the release of Infinity War, there was quite a bit of scholarly discussion about the actual impact of one-half of life of earth suddenly disappearing. Now you have a planet that has had 5 years to normalize after losing half of all its life, and the demoralized population of this unstable ecosystem doubles with the snap of the finger. It might be a reasonable assessment to say that the plan to return everyone who was lost in this way is just as bad—if not worse—than the original snap.

The reason they went with this solution was because Tony Stark did not want to lose the family that he’d built since the snap. While understandable, it undid a bit of his 11-year character development, going from selfish to selfless. How many families will be destroyed because of the infrastructure collapse under the weight of a suddenly doubled population? Stark is smart enough to figure out time travel, but not foresee the consequences of this selfish requirement?

Our calling is not to make the world more moral. Our calling is to bring people to Christ.” —Eve Franklin

Reason for Sacrifice

The “body count” in Avengers: Endgame is actually in the negative, thanks to the reversal of the snap, but there are still some significant deaths. Not as many as we expected, but the deaths that occur were noble sacrifices in nature.

The first is Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow, who sacrifices herself so that the Avengers might gain the soul stone, and gain a chance to reverse the snap. Whether or not Natasha prevented Clint Barton from saving her, or Clint gave her up to the sacrifice she sought to make, she sacrificed herself for a greater purpose. This is something that we Christians should be able to sympathize with. Sacrifice is a core element of the Christian calling:

No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

In the final battle, Tony Stark sacrificed himself to save not only everyone on the battlefield, but to prevent Thanos from snapping away all life in the universe. The question is, though, was Tony’s motivation pure? Did he make his sacrifice out of regret? While Christians are called to willing sacrifice, we are also called to put the things of the old man behind us. Our sacrifices are to be pleasing to God, not filling the hole of regret—or anything else—in our heart:

Then Samuel said: Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and defiance is like wickedness and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

Any hole in our heart is a result of resident sin. We have to be contrite and approach God with a broken spirit:

The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.” (Psalm 51:17)

It is not that the grand sacrifices, like saving every living thing in the universe, are not acceptable, it is the condition of your heart, the reason for the sacrifice that matters to God.

Creating a New, Grateful World

“I thought by eliminating half of life, the other half would thrive, but you have shown me… that’s impossible. As long as there are those that remember what was, there will always be those that are unable to accept what can be. They will resist. I will shred this universe down to it’s last atom and then, with the stones you’ve collected for me, create a new one, teeming with life that knows not what it has lost but what it has been given . . . a grateful universe.”

Thanos has a god complex, that much is indisputable. But this statement provides a little insight to humanity as well. There are so many people out there that draw upon this image of a utopia that is of man’s making, not God’s. They are willing to shove aside or step on anyone who gets in the way of bringing their dream to reality. Everyone has a vision of what will make the world a better place because we know that the world is BROKEN. It is not as it should be.

But there can be no utopia while sin is in the world, and there will be sin in the world until Christ returns. This is all part of His plan: a perfect world falls into corruption so that His glory is shown and indisputable. God’s plan to fix the fallen world was not to force everyone to his will, but to satisfy justice by sacrificing His Son so that we may live:

But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

The idea that Thanos thought he could rebuild reality from scratch—that really speaks to his level of delusion. He’s surprised by the inhabitants of Earth, but believes he can rewrite reality? Thanos isn’t even close to God’s power:

He counts the number of the stars; he gives names to all of them. Our Lord is great, vast in power; his understanding is infinite.” (Psalm 147:4-5)

 . . . Are Family

Family is a recurring theme in much of Hollywood. In Avenger: Endgame we are keenly aware that Natasha’s only family is her adopted family of the Avengers. Rocket Raccoon’s only family, the Guardians, was utterly devastated by the snap. Both of these were families that they were not born into, but were drawn into. Christians understand this. We care for whatever family we are blessed with on earth, but we are also intimately aware of the importance of adoption.  Through Christ, we are adopted into the family of God.

“When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:4-6)

But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

Even our earthly families begin by breaking away, to some extent from our existing families to start new ones.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Matthew 19:5b)

Avengers: Endgame highlights both adopted and traditional families. Tony Stark and Pepper Potts marry and have a child. Steve Rogers goes back in time and marries the love of his life, Peggy Carter and has a large family—we think.

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About the Author
Disciple of the Christ, husband of one, father of four, veteran of the United States Army and geek to the very core, Tim remembers some of the 1970s and and still tries to forget much of the 1980s. He spends his days working as a Cisco technician in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia and too many nights in the clutches of a good story, regardless of the delivery method.

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