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Cinema in Focus: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

3 Stars — Thought-provoking

It is inevitable that death comes upon all of us. Referred to in Greek mythology as Thanatos, this personification of Death is appropriately described as the son of Night (Nyx) and Darkness (Erebos) with a twin brother named Sleep (Hypnos). So in 1973 when Jim Starlin wanted to create an ever-enlarging deadly villain, he named him Thanos.

It is now 45 years later, and the Marvel Universe also is growing. Today’s writers have decided that Thanos is a worthy villain, because he and his children have set out on a chilling plan to solve the greatest problem of the universe. It is not evil, and it is overpopulation and scarcity of resources. Some religious teachers call this “fear of scarcity.” Psychologists call it the “scarcity mndset.” But Christians describe it as a distrust of the abundance of God.

Stanley Hauerwas explains: “Jesus tells us that he has come that we might have life, abundant life. That life that Jesus offers is not a zero sum game. It is not a life against the background of scarcity. It is not, because by being engrafted into the life of Jesus, we discover that the more we give, the more we learn to love, the more we have to give, the more we are able to love.” Thanos disagrees.

When his home planet of Titan was facing extinction, he says, “I offered a solution.” Dr. Strange (voice by Benedict Cumberbatch) asks, “Genocide?” To which Thanos (voice by Josh Brolin) nods yes, explaining with a chilling logic: “But random, dispassion is fair for rich and poor alike. They called me a mad man.”

To accomplish his nefarious solution, Thanos and his powerful children and vast armies resembling the orcs of middle earth have gone from planet to planet and killed half of every population. But as all genocidal maniacs soon discover, it is a lot of work to kill millions of people. So Thanos longs for a power present in six stones, similar to the power of the five rings of Tolkien’s world. If he can gain control over these six stones, then he can “snap his finger” and half of all beings will cease to exist.

Standing in opposition to this cold logician are the Avengers and others within the Marvel Universe. The characters are familiar, and the writing is entertaining. And although the battles are unending, the relationships between the various groups in Avengers: Infinity War bring a deeper interest similar to Captain America: Civil War.

If you have a favorite Avenger, then you will most probably get to see at least some of their superpowers at work against “Death.” But, you may find the ending fascinating!

Discussion

» Do you live with a fear of the future and the scarcity of resources? Why or why not?

» How often do you work within a business or community in which the attitude is one of grabbing for one’s own rather than caring for everyone? What do you do in the midst of that?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is the retired pastor of Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara and lead superintendent of Free Methodist Church in Southern California. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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