I took my wife last weekend to see the summer blockbuster, “The Gaurdians of the Galaxy”. I enjoyed it immensely, but I have always loved comic books, action heroes, and space thrillers. This movie is right in my wheelhouse, because it is all 3 wrapped into a neat little 2hr package. Color me a very happy fanboy!
When it comes to comic book movies it always seems like the more superhuman a character becomes, the more aloof, withdrawn, and uncaring they become; and the less they are actually concerned with the affairs of humans. (See below Dr. Manhattan of The Watchmen, or Jean Grey/Ms. Marvel/The Phoenix, even Superman is somewhat unapproachable due to his awesome power)
This meme of regular humans who subsequently become quasi-gods, and, in turn, lose their humanity seems like a cultural touchstone. Perhaps there is something deeply tied to our cultural psyche, which distrusts those we perceive to who hold too much power. Maybe we’ve seen despots rise and wreak havoc. Maybe absolute power does corrupt absolutely.
Fortunately, none of the Gaurdians are all powerful; they are just regular folk, like you and me. If, regular folk were genetically mutated, cybernetically enhanced racoons, or tree people akin to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents. Maybe that’s why, for me, this film had more pathos and drama than any of the others in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even Ironman 3, with its inclusion of a parent absent, perpetually bullied young boy, Tony’s PTSD, and the pain it gives him when he thinks he has lost Pepper Potts, does not compare in the poignancy department, to the heartfelt, and often tear jerking Gaurdians.
I mention Rocket the raccoon and Groot, the walking tree, because they are the two most human and compelling characters in the film. Groot is a creature capable of intense altruism, and destructive violence. Rocket is outwardly tough and battle hardened, while inwardly he is sad, self loathing, emotionally adept. He feels exactly how he ought to feel, exactly when he should. Ironic, that I connected more with these two non-human, CGI created, intergalactic denizens of sci-fi, than the human, Peter Quill/Star Lord or the other two humanoids, Gamora and Drax the destroyer.
Rocket and Groot are likable, because they are vulnerable. They elicit the most acute emotional responses from the audience, because their characters are the most emotionally available. They are not super charged, god-like, masters of the Universe, calloused and ambivalent to the needs of others. They are friends, they are willing to take up a cause that is dangerous, yet worthy, they are, in a word, self sacrificial. And, because of this, they are Gaurdians of the Galaxy.
Remember when I said that our culture fears those with too much power? This may contribute (or be a cause of, rather than an effect of) to our cultural distrust of God Himself. Who is more powerful? Who is less trusted? The one true God is not like Dr. Manhattan or the Phoenix of Marvel Comics, or ancient Marduk of Mesopotamian mythology. Yes, He is all powerful. Yes, He may do as He pleases. Yes, He transcends human understanding. But, none of those attributes leads Him to disregard our human frailties. Hebrews 4:15 says that “We do not have a high priest (that is, Jesus) who is not able to empathize with our human weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are…“ He is not arbitrary, capricious, or indifferent to us, He actually loves us.
The ultimate proof of God’s love for humankind is that He sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus to die for our sins. What does this have to do with the movie? In the end it is love that saved the galaxy, and in the end it was Love that moved the heart of God to save sinners hellbent on our own destruction. Jesus’s love for us, and His self sacrifice for us, earned Him the name that is above all other names. Jesus, the creator and sustainer of, not only the universe, space/time, electromagnetism, the color spectrum, emotions, and fun, but also of you and me, died for you and me, so that we can have ever lasting life.