Despite the violence, language and sexual escapades of Marvel’s new film, The Guardians of the Galaxy, I still find something in it worth writing about. Many beliefs and values in the Christian life can be found in pop culture and it is the essence of the characters, and that of super heroes in general that invoke spiritual themes here. Since God is the source of everything good, in order for there to be good reflected anywhere, an aspect of God must be present.
In this specific film, the characters and overarching theme is riddled with aspects of the Christian walk that we each aspire to. As we all make our pilgrimage through life, I feel the characters tend to reflect people we meet along our journey or ourselves in the different stages of faith.
In accordance with Mathew 20:16, the last character to be introduced in the movie shall be the first here. Drax (AKA – Drax the Destroyer) played by Dave Bautista is consumed with vengeance for his murdered family to the point where he does not care about anything else or anyone else. His reasonless actions caused issues throughout the movie including his own demise… almost.
A character in the Bible I quickly related to Drax is Absolom, (2 Samuel) son of David. When Absolom’s sister Tama was raped by Amnon a deep vengeful hatred burned inside him that was not released for two years (2 Samuel 13). This deep rooted, long-drawn out anger turned Absolom into an enemy of David and an enemy of Go. Drax became a criminal and in order to face the man who took away his family Drax endangered his life and the lives of his friends.
The problem here does not lie in his actions though, but the mindset of justifying everything he does to avenge his family to be in the right. Ironically, violent films and media displaying heroes often show the “hero” of the story evoking great violence and force which is justified because he is in the right. But in real life, there is hardly ever a truly evil person whereby such actions are justified. Powered by emotion and selfishness even the best of people and Christians can justify actions as righteous because of good intentions. Anyone can be driven off the right path. And throughout the history of the church many have followed these intentions directly to hell.
Gamora; played by Zoe Saldana is the lone survivor of a genocided race. After the death of her people the murderous villains adopted her and turned her into an assassin. As said later by Gamora, she spent “her entire life surrounded by her enemies”. These enemies being: Thanos, (the big purple bad guy from the end of the Avengers) Ronan, a murderous maniac, and her mostly-robotic sister, Nebula. Interestingly, Nebula was raised in the same circumstance. Her home planet was destroyed, she too was turned into a deadly assassin, but unlike Gamora, Nebula enjoys her murderous occupation.
Raised assumingly pretty similar Cain and Abel grew to being very different people (Genesis 4). While Abel found favour with the Lord, his brother Cain had hatred within him, and killed Abel. As the first two children born in a world of sin, the contrast in character between these two is very symbolic of our world whereby one was consumed by the newly entered sin, and the other stayed faithful. Gamora displayed that persistence. While Nebula turned to the dark side (wrong sci-fi reference), Gamora, probably with thoughts and influence of her real home and family, stayed true to her morals and virtue.
Throughout her adventures she was always willing to do the right thing to the point of personal sacrifice. The vile world she lived in did not change her or cause her to drift. As Christians we are called to stand strong and continue the race through this dark, hostile world we live in so that we may not tire in this race and inspire and encourage those around us.
Fiery, rude, self-centered, brash, and arrogant is Rocket Raccoon. He enjoys his bounty hunting job, inflicting pain, blowing up stuff and starting fights; basically everything that makes a good enjoyable action movie. Out of all the Guardians he seems to have the weakest moral fibre. He neglects his only friend and shows very little concern for others. During a rather low moment of moral he reveals the reason for his aggressiveness, to quote Rocket, he was made into a “freak”; torn apart again and again as a pointless experiment. He feels alone, unloved, purposeless and even when he did help out it was out of pressure or for his own benefit. Rocket is the lost that we are called to help in the great commission. He knows no love and neglects his only friend. It’s not until Groot’s self-sacrificing gesture for Rocket and the rest of the Guardians that there is an apparent redemptive change revealing a new way to live his life. And although Rocket is not totally changed from his old ways, he is working towards a better life, which we wish for all the lost and unloved in our world.
Groot is awesome. Despite his lack of dialogue, comprehension of gender or other general knowledge he is the pure hearted, innocent and loveable friendly giant needed in his friendship with Rocket and the other violent criminals; The Guardians. Jesus said we are to have the “faith of a child” (Mathew 18:3). Groot may help Rocket bounty hunting, but he shows a meekness that proves him to be the most kind-hearted of the team. Including his act of kindness to the street child, saving Drax’s undeserving life and helping Rocket despite his rudeness. In John 15:13, Jesus said that “Greater love knows no other than this, laying down one’s life for one’s friends”, and it is this heroic act that was displayed by Groot. The image here is ideally of one word: simple. It is in that word that a great model for a Christian life is seen, showing that all other knowledge and expectations is helpful in one’s faith but necessary for salvation.
The only necessary thing other than faith in Jesus Christ is love. Sadly, this quality is attributed to Groot probably because he is the least human-like of all the characters, and as humans we naturally have sinful flaws that prevent us to live simplistically. Being human means having flaws, but we are called to be a love-machine for Christ.
Since a child, Peter Quil (Chris Pratt) was told he was like his father, “an angel”. He does not seem as bad as the rest of his gang at the beginning of the movie, or the rest of the guardians because he does not want to kill anyone. He is just lazy and irresponsible right? Not so much. Quil/Starlord has great potential and skill that is wasted and thrown aside as a disregard for who he is. As a child we are shown his misguided caring heart for all living things, which is probably subsided by living with outlaws for the next 20-ish years of his life. Deep inside him though, was a seed of good. “Something incredibly heroic”, coming from, as we are led to believe, from his “angelic father’s” hereditary influence. But the Spirit inside of us is different than the alien cross-breading of Peter Quil… it’s better! It allows us to do amazing things if we trust in Christ to bring about the hereditary, spiritual change of our heavenly Father.
As a team, this band of outcasts and lowlifes, much like the apostles themselves, saved the Galaxy from a great evil. They found a home with one another in something greater than themselves. We may not have the same challenges or the same flaws as the Guardians, but the principles of friendship, loyalty, responsibility and unity are present in both the guarding of our souls, and these Guardians of the Galaxy. To which the greater of callings belongs to the former.
Hello folks. Here you have my first contribution to Philofaith. This is one of many writings and ideas I have had involving a cross over between movies and faith. I have more posts to come but am also interested in what you think I should write about.
Any favourite movie or other media you want to see the christian application of? Feel free to shout out some ideas and suggestions in a comment.