by Drew Zahn
“Avengers: Endgame” is the capstone to a 22-movie, epic, intertwined storyline that spanned time, science, magic, and the far reaches of the universe. The movies have made billions of dollars at the box office. And with its release this weekend, “Endgame” will become nothing short of the biggest event in moviemaking history, as we will witness the film shatter – nay, obliterate – virtually every record in Hollywood.
How curious it was, then, to discover upon watching “Endgame,” that in the end, it’s all about Jesus.
Without spoilers, let me explain what I mean …
For several years, I worked as a film critic for WND.com, analyzing movies not for their cinematography or acting chops, but for their worldview – in other words, what the movies taught our culture about God, about truth, about humanity, and more.
Across the Marvel Cinematic Universe of movies, or “the MCU,” as superhero movie fans call it, I noticed several times that these comic book heroes spoke to us about God.
There was the time in the first “Avengers,” when Captain America declared, “There’s only one God, ma’am.” Or when the Hulk took the Norse “god” Loki and slammed him to the ground, laughing at the false deity with the scoff, “Puny ‘god.'” I even pointed out the outright blasphemy of the villain in “Age of Ultron.”
And so we come to the grand finale, “Avengers: Endgame.” This culmination of a 22-film franchise is a three-hour masterpiece of a blockbuster movie. It has “all the feels,” as my teenage daughter says, and despite its long run time, I would run back to the theater to see it again.
But as the opening scenes began to unfold on the screen before me, I caught myself wondering how the filmmakers would do it. How do you create a capstone for a story that took roughly 45 hours of screen time to tell?
As the movie progressed, it dropped a few hints. Then, at the climax of the film, it became suddenly clear. There’s only one story, one theme that’s big and deep enough to support that kind of narrative weight. It’s the great story. The story of a solitary hero, with the weight of the world on his shoulders, who saves all of humanity … by laying down his life.
The makers of “Endgame” didn’t try to invent something new; they borrowed from something old: “Greater love has no one than this,” Jesus said in in John 15:13-14, “than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are my friends.”
Yes, “Endgame” was a story of revenge and repentance, of healing and redemption. And, yes, it preached some values of the zeitgeist as well, with a token “gay” scene and a rousing “girl power” moment. There were a few moments in the film where the characters spoke life lessons and spouted theoretically poignant lines that may or may not have been in line with biblical truth.
But in the end, what made the teenage boys behind me in the theater begin to cry – I mean legitimate tears down their cheeks – was the story of sacrifice, of 1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.”
I won’t spoil “Endgame” for you by naming who lives and who dies.
But if you do see the film, you’ll know the story isn’t just make-believe on the movie screen. There really was a hero who died to destroy the grave, who loved his friends so much he laid down his life.
And for this story, it’s no spoiler: The real hero’s name … is Jesus.
Drew Zahn is director of communications for The FAMiLY LEADER.