Confession: I loved comic books growing up. Not simply an awareness of them but collecting them, bagging them, boarding them, knowing their value in various conditions, reading various strength levels and super powers in Marvel Universe almanacs etc. Not sure how that happened but I still have a box of them in my attic. I think I enjoyed them because they develop interesting characters; characters you follow and watch develop over many issues and many years. In light of this I have been a full supporter of the comicbookization of Hollywood. Seeing the Marvel Universe come to the big screens has been more than a little fun for me. Not sure if my old favorites Powerman and Iron Fist are ever going to make it to the 3D screen, but who knows.
I say all of this to comment briefly on a scene from Marvel’s new movie The Avengers. Now, before you judge this film, you should see it. Sometimes a movie everyone likes is good and everyone likes it because it is good. That is for my film snob friends reading. I saw the Avengers twice in its opening weekend. Why? For the children of course. I had to see it with my wife on Friday (my day off) to grasp why it had its PG-13 rating to decide whether my daughters could see the film. After we determined the girls could go, Sunday night we hit the show on a Daddy date. Tommy would be freaked out and afraid of the Hulk so he is not seeing it any time soon.
One scene that got quite a bit of traction in the trailer and is important to two of the main characters flows as follows. For Avengers newbies, Tony Stark is Iron Man and Steve Rogers is Captain America. Stark is a spooky smart guy who has invented some killer high tech weaponry and has a history of womanizing. Rogers is a super soldier from the early 20th century who got frozen in ice. His values are old school. Here is the short dialogue:
- Steve Rogers: Big man in a suit of armor. Take that off, what are you?
- Tony Stark: Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.
- Steve Rogers: I know guys with none of that worth ten of you
So after thinking for a moment about this intense exchange between super heroes, I paused and asked what God might have to say to the IRON MAN:
- Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them. Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 ESV
- And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15 ESV
- “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28 ESV
- “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4 ESV
Is there something deeper that Captain America is getting at? Is there something bigger, more important going on in life that our “external suit”, our abilities, what we have and do? Jesus asked the following questions and I think asking them today would be good for you:
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?
One of the great story-lines in the Avengers film is what takes place in the relationship between Cap and Iron Man…this dialogue isn’t the end of it so I recommend the movie to watch the rest of that story unfold.