Avengers: Endgame is a generational film—and I’m not talking about its record-setting opening-weekend box office haul. Your teenagers likely don’t remember a time when there wasn’t an Avengers film in the theater. After 11 years and 21 movies, they probably know the nuances of the Marvel universe better than the Old Testament.
And yet both offer competing stories of epic redemption—each with a complicated cast of characters and sub-plots that all tie together into a larger narrative. On the heels of the Infinity War that created heartbreak and chaos with a snap, this is more than “the end of the road”: We discover why we everyone got onto this road in the first place.
“There was an idea… to bring together a group of remarkable people… to see if they could become something more… so when we needed them they could fight the battles that we never could.” – Nick Fury
I’ve put together seven discussion “targets” that will help you talk with your teenagers about the film’s underlying themes from a biblical and Jesus-centered perspective. But just a warning if you haven’t yet seen the film…
SPOILER ALERT: What follows includes plot references that give away some surprises—reader beware.
[tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]These seven discussion “targets” will help you talk with your teenagers about the underlying themes in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ from a biblical and Jesus-centered perspective.[/tweet_box]
#1: Big Secrets. Big secrets are meant to stay secret. But when a film is anticipated with this much fervor (theaters opened 24 hours a day to accommodate the crowds!) it’s inevitable that some plot twists would leak out. Official pre-screenings and pirated footage from China prompted the directors to specifically ask fans #DontSpoilTheEndgame: “When you see Endgame in the coming weeks, please don’t spoil it for others, the same way you wouldn’t want it spoiled for you.” Talk to your teenagers about surprises they experience in life, and why we rarely get “spoilers” ahead of time…
- What was the biggest surprise in the film?
- If you could’ve seen a “spoiler” of that surprise in advance, would you do it? Why or why not?
- Would you rather be surprised in life, or do you wish you could somehow get “spoilers” ahead of time? Explain.
- What are examples of things in life that are worth staying “spoiler-free”?
#2: Loss and Failure. Half of the universe has disappeared, and those who remain must wrestle with “survivor’s guilt.” Grief takes many forms. Captain America says: “Some people move on. But not us.” Thor tries to drown his “failure” by giving in to his appetites—“[He] thinks he failed. Which, of course, he did. But you know, there’s a lot of that going around, ain’t there?” Talk to your teenagers about coping with failure…
- Each character wrestles with grief in their own way—how do you typically cope with the pain of loss or failure in your life?
- Why is it so hard to let go of failure?
- In what ways has your relationship with Jesus helped you cope with loss and failure in your life, and why?
- Peter failed Jesus by betraying Him, but Jesus was intentional about inviting His friend out of shame and guilt—what did He do, and why was it so powerful?
#3: The Pro’s and Con’s of Profanity. Unlike previous Marvel entries, there’s enough casual profanity in Endgame that it stands out. The evolution of Captain America’s attitude toward swearing is especially worth noting. This is the same hero who, in Avengers: Age of Ultron, scolded Iron Man about swearing—but now invites it.
- In your view, is swearing always wrong? Why or why not?
- Jesus called the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs” and “snakes”—profane descriptions that were deeply offensive. If Jesus is the definition of love, how does His use of strong language serve that goal?
- What does the progression of Captain America’s attitude toward profanity tell us about him? What are the filmmaker’s trying to communicate through this progression?
- What’s a biblically-based standard for when profanity is acceptable and unacceptable?
#4: Sacrifice, Entitlement and Redemption. To cope with their grief, the heroes each attempt to somehow move on. Tony Stark builds a new life with his wife and daughter. But when he discovers that redemption is possible, he knows he must risk the life he’s carved out to offer his help. He tells Captain America: “It’s not about how much we lost. It’s about how much we have left. We’re the Avengers. We gotta finish this.”
- What’s your opinion of Captain America deciding to live a low-key life in the past instead of returning back to the modern timeline? What gains and losses did his choice foster?
- We live in the tension between safety and risk—how do you define a good risk vs. a bad risk, and good safety vs. bad safety?
- Jesus tells us: “You’ll do the things I’ve done, and even greater things.” Why would Jesus give us a mission that seems too big to handle?
#5: Time Travel: Time travel in the film allows some characters to see the past through fresh eyes. A new understanding of the past helps them make better sense of their present.
- Iron Man was born when Tony Stark fashioned a metal suit to fight his way out of imprisonment in a cave. He had no idea that a desperate act of survival would define his life going forward. What are some small decisions in your life that have turned out to be game-changers for you?
- In what ways has your past, both the good and the bad, fueled your impact in life today?
- If you could travel into your past, would you want to stay an invisible observer, or to engage others (and risk changing things)? Explain.
#6: The Meta-Narrative: I watched the film with teenagers, and one of them leaned over just before the big battle scene and whispered, “It’s just like Revelation.” This epic closing conflict unites every sub-character and sub-plot into a meta-narrative in the same way that Revelation weaves together prophecy into an epic meta-narrative of humanity.
- Jesus frames us as warriors in a spiritual battle—what do you like and not like about that characterization?
- Jesus calls us His “Body”—He means that He intends to live out His purpose and work in the world through us. Why would He use this metaphor to refer to us?
- How do we discover our role in the battle—in the Body of Christ? Do we have a choice about the role we’ll play, or is it “assigned” to us? Explain.
#7: Moving On: The next Spider-Man movie will end this current phase of the Marvel movies. It’s similar to a teenager graduating from high school—they still have a “home base” with their family, but they’re launching themselves into a new narrative.
- When you think about your future graduation from high school, what will you celebrate and what will you mourn?
- What are the dangers of trying to hang onto your past life? What are the dangers of losing a connection to your past life?
- In John 15-17, Jesus is very specific with His close friends about the huge changes that are about to happen in their life, because He is going to the cross. Why would Jesus be so brutally honest with them?
What did you catch that is worth talking about? Add your own talking points in the comments section…