(Jonathan Ryan posting for Jen Schlameuss-Perry.)
I actually got to go to the movies to see a movie! My family and I went and saw Avengers: Age of Ultron. It started off wonky—it looked like a video game. I actually thought that we were watching a training simulation or something at first. I’m still not sure whether the movie adjusted or I did, but it seemed to correct itself. I thought the rest of the movie looked great.
And it was great. I’m a sucker for superheroes anyway, but I loved the character development, what we learned about the lives of the heroes and that Captain America remains single; cause that means I still have a shot.
My favorite part was every bit of dialogue that The Vision was involved in. It was soooooooooo theological. I always appreciate the theological, moral and spiritual nature of superheroes—I look for it—but Vision was just so straight up godly. When he first shows up, Tony Stark tries to figure out what The Vision is and what he’s about. His response to the questioning begins with a very simple, “I am. I am for life.” Bam.
The Hebrew name for God (the Tetragrammaton), YHWH, is translated as, “I am” or “I am who am” or “I am who I am.” Ultimately, it’s an expression of the fullness of being, which is what God is. In the story where God introduces Himself to Moses using that name, God goes on to say, “I am the God of your father, he continued, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” (Ex 3:6) Jesus, in talking about the resurrection, refers to this passage in the Gospel of Matthew 22:32. He says, “And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God,‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” God is for life. I’m not saying that The Vision is God; he’s not. But, he sure does (if you have a theological ear) echo qualities of God. Heck—he’s the only one who can pick up Thor’s hammer without a flinch. (But, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Captain America was able to move it. And it was even cooler that he didn’t notice—because he’s that humble. I love him.)
Then, the last conversation between Ultron and The Vision is so Christian in its expression that I got wobbly cartoon eyes when I was watching it.
The Vision: You’re afraid.
Ultron: Of you?
The Vision: Of death. You’re the last one.
Ultron: You were supposed to be the last. Stark asked for a savior and settled for a slave.The Vision: I suppose we’re both disappointments.
Ultron: [laughs] I suppose we are.
The Vision: Humans are odd. They think order and chaos are somehow opposites and try to control what won’t be. But there is grace in their failings. I think you missed that.
Ultron: They’re doomed
The Vision: Yes… but a thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts. It is a privilege to be among them.
Ultron: You’re unbearably naive.
The Vision: Well… I was born yesterday.
Seriously, I could write a ten page paper on this conversation alone. But, I’ll keep it short in the interest of…well, the interest of the fact that nobody would read it… “Stark asked for a savior and settled for a slave.” Um…hello. Jesus took on the form of a slave, never seeking equality with God, died the death of a slave, told us to be servants to one another and was our Savior. Jesus loved with great tenderness and mercy the “grace in our failings.” It’s in every human interaction He has. And then that comment on things not being beautiful because they last—that is not the criteria for beauty, or how we value many things, or why we seek to protect things. Things/people have value because they are creatures of a loving God. The Vision’s sense that it was a privilege to be among us—even though he has the power to destroy us, to subjugate us or whatever—he appreciates our weakness and how we live in its context instead of being repulsed by our smallness compared to him. It reminds me of the Gospel of John when John says that Jesus, “pitched His tent among us.” (Jn 1: 14)
I’m almost sure that the writers of this movie didn’t intend the themes to be dripping with Judeo/Christian theology, but it really is impossible to separate out. All great hero stories descend from the original Hero, so it simply must be that way.
Jen Schlameuss-Perry is a massive fan of sci-fi, cartoons and superheroes and loves to write about them in light of her Catholic tradition. She currently works for a Catholic Church and practices martial arts, cares for her family and pets and writes in her spare time. Check out some of Jen’s other stuff on her Facebook page or her website.