POP CULTURE MONDAY: Thanos and God pt. 1

Okay, I have waited long enough, I think, to do or say anything regarding Avengers: Infinity War.

If you haven’t seen it, stop reading and come back later, unless you don’t care about spoilers or have already had it spoiled.

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Thanos is the big bad foil for our favourite superheros, the Avengers (along with The Guardians as well), but the way the movie was written was mostly from the perspective of Thanos. He was the main character of the film and from a classic film and hero formula the main character wins. He set out for his quest, he faced opposition, but he overcame it and won. Moreover, he did what he thought was right.

 

Now, I couldn’t help but notice a TONNE of parallels and relations to God in the film. Here’s a few, and guess what??? They’re all associated with Thanos! What?!?!?

 

Noah and Flood:

The story of the Great Flood is found in Gen 6-9. It’s a story we’re all pretty familiar with. Here’s the parallel: When the people on earth started destroying each other and refusing God’s call to be good stewards of creation God pressed a reset button. Essentially, because humanity sucked and being good God decided to start over again and he flooded the earth – wiping out more than half the population as Thanos did – wiping out all but one family, and enough animals to reproduce and start again.

Was Thanos’ actions akin to God? We are meant to sympathise with Thanos, who saw his entire planet die because of the greed of its inhabitants – something we are no stranger to on earth! – so Thanos devotes his entire life to halving all life in the universe so there will be enough finite resources to go around. He essentially presses restart for the good of all creation. That’s not too unlike God’s actions in Gen 6-9.  In fact, in the movie, Thanos (and his “Children”) consider it an act of mercy to kill off half of all life so others may thrive. God’s actions in Gen 6 is also considered to be an act of mercy for his creation.

 

Sacrificial Love:

Okay, this one was pretty obvious to me as well. Thanos is said to be Gamora’s father, and she his “favoured child” (evoking the words the Father spoke of Jesus after his baptism). But what’s more is in order to achieve his plan he must sacrifice the one thing he loves more than anything else – his daughter, Gamora. The scene is intense, and Gamora thinks he’s lost because she believes he’s never loved anything in his life, but it turns out that he really has loved her the whole time. Her joy quickly turns to fear when she realises that he does love her, and in order to do the greater good (oooh, unintentionally linking to Courtney’s sermon last night (Aug 5)) he will sacrifice her for the Soul Stone. And he does. In order to save the world (actually the entire universe) Thanos sacrifices the child he loves. If that’s meant to draw a parallel I don’t know what is.

 

Sabbath:

The third, and final, comparison I want to draw on is one I actually found online and thought it was spot on and brilliant. It goes like this: Thanos needs 6 Infinity Stones to achieve his mission of resetting the universe. Each stone represents one day of the creation narrative in Genesis. And once he’s gained all six, he simply has to snap his finger (creating a big boom of sorts, lol) and the existence he deems as “good” is created. Half the universe no longer exists and balance is restored to the created order. And then what? Well, what did God do after the six days? He rested.

Thanos is asked in the film what he’ll do if he accomplishes his goal and he essentially says he’ll sit back, relax, and watch the sunrise over a grateful universe. After collecting the 6 stones (6 days) he rests to enjoy that which he created.

How’s that not a parallel.

 

 

I believe these parallels are meant to help us more identify with Thanos and his reasoning. Not only do we get some of his tragic backstory, but the writers and directors of Infinity War intentionally draw on these similarities to God and the Bible so, subconsciously, we are familiar with it and we can relate.

Interesting, ae?

 

But here’s the thing. To me, they are similar enough to resemble a familiarity to the Bible, but they aren’t identical. Without taking up too much time and giving a defense for each of the three points, I’ll just speak to Thanos’ whole goal.

Thanos is not like God. Thanos’ malevolence should not be confused for benevolence. When Thanos gets all 6 Infinity Stones he literally has the power to do anything, and instead of creating unlimited resources to fix the problem of the finite resources available, or instead of creating new sustainable energy and food sources all over the universe, his ONLY idea is to kill half of all life.

The closest thing we have here is probably the story of the Great Flood, but if you remember, that story ends with God making a promise to never do that again, and the second time humanity is desperate need of saving God sends Jesus to die – one for all – so that we are saved in a spiritual way. Our souls are saved when we believe in Christ Jesus and accept his salvation through the cross.  God’s benevolence here shows that he no longer needs to do another “mercy wipe” and destroy half (or more) of life to see his Kingdom reign. NO! His love extends to us in another way; a way that promotes life and not death!

 

But this got me thinking some more about the proper Christian response to an endangered creation vs. Thanos’ response.

And I’ll share that with you in part 2.

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