So, has anyone seen the new Avengers movie? I typically like superhero movies. At the root of them, there is the age old battle of good versus evil that enthralls us as a people. I really liked the movie. It had action from beginning to end, and even some clues about the next villain they will face off with. It was good, but... it wasn't great, it wasn't epic.
I rarely talk about my faith on this blog because its purpose is to share my writings. Yet, I must share my experience with all of you. As I watched the movie, I noticed that there were some Christian elements that, for the most part, seemed to really smack me in the face, rather than make me think about my religion in a new light. I don't think that they were meant to be obvious, and I'm not saying that they meant be disrespectful, but you be the judge. Now, I won't give away the movie, but I just want to talk about two parts which caught my attention and why they did in a negative way.
For one, Nick Fury who is played by Samuel L. Jackson, and although he is hardly in the movie, his character manages to make an impact for the wrong reasons. In a scene where all the avengers are meeting in the safe house with Fury, he talks about how Ultron is everywhere, saying "[Ultron] is spreading faster than a Catholic rabbit." Now, I couldn't trust my ears when I heard this, but I looked up the joke, and it was definitely said in the movie. Sadly, my ears heard correctly.
But, anyway, what is wrong with this? First of all, there are no such things as Catholic rabbits. Animals do not have a religion or freewill to believe as they wish. Not that Catholics see our Catholicism as a religion. Catholicism is a way of life which connects us to God of the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).
So, what was the joke really about? Could it have been about Catholic views of procreation? I think so. I think this was some script writer's idea of a brilliant joke that fell flat. Or perhaps Mr. Whedon's atheism, coming into play. After all, he has frowned upon Catholic views on morality. Why? Why would anyone refer to a human being as a rabbit, because it is actually prejudice and insulting in a society which wants everything to be kosher. But why is this particular joke acceptable? It isn't to me and it is full of Anti-Catholic bias that it makes me want to puke. Catholics have long held the belief that children are blessings from God, and we must be open to all life. That means that Catholics, true and faithful Catholics, do not use contraception. Now, many people think that no contraception means that couples are having a hundred kids, but that is not the case. Catholics believe in Natural Family Planning, so that we can space out children. Also, not all Catholics have been blessed with a lot of children. There are just as many Catholic families with small families as there are big families, perhaps more small ones.
Another issue for me was... Ultron (James Spader). The character seems to quote scripture throughout the movie, although the use of it seems out of place. When he found vibranium, he quotes Matthew 16, "Upon this Rock I will build my Church." What church is he talking about? The vibranium could be the rock, but the church is a mystery. The bible quote was out of place without context which the movie does not give. He also compares himself to God by talking about the extinction of the human race... basically, saying the equivalent of "Well, God does it all the time, so I am going to take it upon myself to do it again." Also, Paul Bettany's character, which is a benevolent, organic robot, also calls himself "I am", but again the words for this character also seem unworthily used. The Vision (Paul Bettany) seemed less effective as a character as he was obviously intended to be. So, when the Vision called himself "I am" I was a little perturbed.
What is with all these robotic characters seeing themselves as gods and why does this theme continue throughout the movie? Now, any Jew or Christian who knows their bibles knows that "I AM" is what God calls Himself when questioned by Moses. It is the sacred name of God. Furthermore, Jesus, the Son of God and sharing in His divinity, also calls Himself... "I AM". So, was this meant to draw a parallel between a robot and God? I didn't like the parallel between any of the characters and God.
Ultron does make reference to God when he talks about the destruction of life on Earth several times, including the extinction of the dinosaurs. But the movie makes no parallels to the loving God who helps and blesses His creation, time and time again. I found any association between Ultron and God rather out of tune and disrespectful as a Catholic Christian. I mean... what are movie makers trying to tell us? That God is so evil that He destroys and remakes His creation whenever He feels like. If that were true, we are far passed redemption... wouldn't He have done it already? This view of God as a chastiser, as an evil deity is common among atheists who know nothing of biblical history or the covenants within the bible. They have never read a bible, or if they have, read it without context and form opinions based on one or two verses. But as I said... if you don't read the chapter and know about the context through history, you are as good as a blind man trying to read a book without braille... and that was how the usages of the bible quotes felt.
Who is God and why does He punish His creation? The God which is revealed in the Old Testament is our Abba (Father). The bible says that He is "slow to anger", yet He punishes as any loving father would. Why? Humanity was not made to run amok. We were meant to be holy and have a beautiful relationship with our Creator but like all things... we as a people mess things up. The hearts of men are prone towards evil acts and the Old Testament details a barbaric time in human existence. People were being killed, wars were being waged, many were captured and enslaved. God chose a people (the Jews) and entered into a covenant with them that would be good until a Messiah would come to free the people from bondage and sin. When Jesus was born, God became man and took on human flesh, living a humble life among God's. But God's plan was to redeem humanity and create a new covenant, a covenant with the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus (the Son) sacrificed himself as the new Passover lamb, freeing the people from the bondage of sin, so that man can enter heaven and dwell with God there forever. See, salvation was now open to all of humanity, not just one group. Where are those references in Ultron? Where is the God who would allow Himself to be handed over, beaten within an inch of life, crucified, die, and resurrect in His glorified body? Ultron is a poor imitation. Even the Vision is not up to par. The religious elements in the movie were lackluster and failed to evoke deep thought and for those reasons failed... miserably.
It was a good movie, but those minor parts that would have just been laughed at or overlooked for some just really threw me off. Some will say... "Well, it is only a movie." But movies are meant to reflect the culture, whether in the past, present or future. Movies speak to our inner selves in a simple way, through moving pictures. So, when I see movies that seem disrespectful to my God or my Church, it saddens me, because I see that people have fallen to the point of indifference, a loss of faith, or a complete loss respect for their fellow man.