[Spoiler Alert: This article contains major plot points for the film Avengers: Endgame]
Avengers: Endgame is an amazing success, making 1.2 billion dollars in its opening weekend,¹ concluding the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ten-year, twenty-two-movie long “Infinity Saga.” And while all of its characters and stories are extraordinary, the main themes of each movie are perfectly ordinary, such as love, loss, and family.
The Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers are more than just superhero teams, they are adopted families for their members. We have seen Gamora and Nebula cease being enemies and becoming sisters. The most heart-wrenching moment of Avengers: Infinity War is when Peter Parker vanishes in the arms of his surrogate father, Tony Stark, and the most heartwarming moment of Endgame is their reunion. Endgame also provides poignant moments between Stark and his father, as well as Thor and his mother. The movie ends with Steve Rogers (Captain America) finally dancing with his love, Peggy Carter.
But while love and family are the Avengers’ greatest strengths, the lack of those things proves to be the downfall of the Infinity Saga’s main villain, Thanos. He sacrifices his adopted daughter, Gamora, whom he supposedly loves, to gain the Soul Stone in Infinity War. When Thanos realizes he is losing the final battle of Endgame, he commands his ships to fire down onto the entire battlefield, including his own troops. Thanos sought to “save” the universe, but he obviously cares for no one but himself. While Thanos surrounded himself with expendable minions, the Avengers were a family. Their love for each other is their strength. That is why, years after Thanos destroyed half of the living creatures in the universe, the Avengers still could not move on, but sought to bring back everyone whom Thanos killed.
Thanos desired a flourishing universe, but how can we flourish without love and community? We can’t. We weren’t designed to live in isolation. Loneliness can kill us. We see this played out in Endgame. After the events of Infinity War, Thanos lives alone on an uninhabited planet. When the Avengers find him, he is broken and pathetic, almost as if he was waiting for them to come and end his misery.
The Family of God
When God created humanity, he could have filled the earth with humans all at once. But he created a man and woman and commanded them to multiply. God did not just create humanity; he created family. The nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, was really one big, extended family. Jesus could have come to earth as a fully-grown man. Instead, he was born to a loving mother and father.
The Church is not just a casual assembly of people; we are God’s family, brothers and sisters in Christ, sons and daughters of the King of the universe, bonded together in love. This family relationship is what Thanos cannot understand. Humanity is nothing without family. Life is not worth living without others to love. Through the ups and downs of life, we give each other support and strength.
Whatever It Takes
In Infinity War, all of the heroes were willing to die to stop Thanos’s murderous plans. As predicted, some of the Avengers did lay down their lives in Endgame to save the ones they loved. Black Widow gave her life so that Hawkeye could be reunited with his family. Tony Stark was the one Avenger who was able to “move on” after Infinity War, because he began a family of his own. Yet he sacrificed his life to use the Infinity Stones to destroy Thanos and his evil forces, once and for all. As mentioned in our Infinity War article, this is a representation of the Gospel, how Jesus willingly gave his life to save us from the peril of spiritual death. More than that, his sacrificial act invites us to become part of his family, to be sons and daughters of God.
When you think of superhero movies, you may think of costumes and capes, epic battles and incredible powers. But these films are really celebrations of normal, everyday things like love and family. Even the twisted and evil Thanos simply wanted to watch the sun rise. But while he was surrounded by peace and tranquility, he had no friends or family. The universe was not grateful like he thought it would be; it was full of sorrow and pain. In contrast, the Avengers were a family who fought to protect what they loved. Superhero movies can teach us many things, like how to be brave amidst adversity and to stand up for truth and justice. But it wasn’t just courage and power that led the heroes of Avengers: Endgame to do “whatever it takes” to save the world. They did it for family.
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