SPOILER NOTE: This is a review of a character from the 2012 film “The Avengers”. It will contain spoilers. I recommend avoiding this review until you’ve seen the film.
“We on Asgard pretend that we are more advanced, but we- we come here battling like Bilgesnipe.”
“The Bilgesnipe. You know- huge, scaly, big antlers. You don’t have those?”
“Don’t think so.”
“They are repulsive, and they trample everything in their path.”
-Thor and Agent Coulson, The Avengers
Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
The Crown Prince of a higher realm. The son of a god who is himself a god. Petitioning his father to use all his resources to send him to Earth in pursuit of a runaway adopted brother, a former heir to glory that he loves despite his rebellion which tossed a world into chaos. Sound familiar?
We’ll talk more about Loki in a future post, but because of him, Thor is probably the most layered of the Avengers. While his previous experience with Loki, in 2011’s Thor, ended in the near-destruction of a small town and the threatening of the woman he loved largely due to Thor’s own hubris, Thor is eager to return to Earth and make things right with his brother, separated though they are by Loki’s warped desires.
“I’m not overly fond of what comes after.”
Isn’t it interesting how the man who comes to stop Loki isn’t out to kill him? Thor has grown so much in a year that he’s barely recognizable now. There are still moments of arrogance, to be sure, but he’s come a long way from the demigod who was banished for risking the entire cosmos in pursuit of personal pride. “Have a care how you speak!” he insists, “Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard and he is my brother.” His pursuit of Loki is pure-hearted and motivated by love for his lost brother and care for his beloved Earth. Even his admission to the Black Widow that “He’s adopted” is an admission: we are related, and I choose to pursue that relationship. It’s in this way that he has become the most Christ-like figure of the Avengers.
It’s not enough for Christ to sit in heaven and look down upon the Earth that He helped His father create. When Jesus sees us in our squalor, He is pained – and moved to do something about it. He comes into our world, not with the flash of lightning and fearsome thunder, but with a baby’s cry. Not that he is any less powerful – how powerful is a God who willingly lays down His strength, knowing that He’ll gain all the more from it?
“Taking their lives will gain you nothing. So take mine and end this.”
Then He begins His pursuit of the fallen brother – us. Christ’s mission, from His own lips, is “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10 ESV), and He launches into it with gusto. The pursuit would lead Him all over Galilee while He was on this planet; then, after His departure, He pursues us all over the world and our own hearts through the souls He has redeemed and the Holy Spirit He has sent. His pursuit would eventually even lead Him to His death.
But the death of Christ was only the beginning of the pursuit. We return home with Him, not in chains as Loki, but in victory, as Christ’s brother – co-heirs with Him of the Kingdom of God!
And make no mistake – though I use the word “us,” since Christ did come to save as many people as He could, I could just as easily use the word you.
You left the crown of Heaven, unsatisfied with what you were given. You ran toward what you thought would give you pleasure, power over your own life, glory, joy – all the things Loki craved and risked a universe for. And You are the sad, despondent, alienated child who curses the man who gives you everything.
But You are also the reason that God gave His son. You are the person He wants to adopt into His family, more than anything. You are the prodigal son or daughter whose returning home will spark parties and rejoicing in Heaven.
Christ is pursuing you. That’s why you’re reading these words right now – I believe that God can use the words of a broken, sinful, defeated geek in Indianapolis, talking about a comic book character named after a pagan false god, to catch you. He wants to catch you – despite your escape, and all the havoc you have caused since you rebelled, He runs to you “while you are still far off, feeling compassion, embracing and kissing” you (Luke 15:20, paraphrased). And you are far off, to be sure. Our sin separates us from the God of the Universe like nothing has ever been ripped apart before, but God runs to you while you’re still in your own filth.
Stop running away. Stop pursuing your own kingdom and give yourself over to His.
“Give up this poisonous dream. You come home.”
• • •
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This review was originally written prior to the release of “Thor: The Dark World“, and published prior to a Film and Theology event about the newer film. Follow us on social media for our upcoming review of many more Marvel movies to come.