As the world waits to be saved again, an already realized fear nags in the back of my mind. Like a parent watching their child stroll out of the house without their backpack, after having just been told to not forget it. Do we remember the movie that came before? All Marvel movies tie together. It is one of the driving factors forging worldwide notoriety, ten-year movie dominance, number one movies galore, almost $15 billion globally, and one histories largest movie openings. Avengers Infinity Wars outpaced its predecessor Black Panther early on, more than doubling pre-ticket sales. Already it seems as though the hailing of a magical movie moment poised to change the outlook of filmgoers and give sight to underrepresented minorities is being passed by. Infinity Wars seems to have left Wakanda. . . forgotten.
It’s part of life isn’t it. You play with toys for a few weeks before getting bored and searching for new ones. You enjoy your iPhone for a month before the new upgrade makes yours obsolete. The new car smell fades faster than the numbers rise on the gas pump as you fill up. Audiences were captivated and encouraged by T’Challa and Black Panther. They were made to wrestle with the inner turmoil, created by the all too real crucible that created Killmonger. People worked through the question, “was Killmonger right?” Women warriors were recognized as strong and smart. A third world African country was powerful instead of pitied. All while showcasing an array of music, accents, colors, and culture that most members of the African American race could barely envision, prompting little children to role play and say, “I’m T’Challa!” But that seems to be a distant memory. How could it be on the front of our minds, when in front of our eyes is what is marketed as what every Marvel movie has been leading up to? It seems that life does imitate art after all.
T’Challa will be in the movie. He will be given a role as will the rest of his family and fighters, friends and former foes, but he will be given a side role. As will all of the characters in the film. My point is not to argue that T’Challa should be the main hero of the film. Instead it is to draw our attention to the drama being played out before our eyes. This is the same reality that we have seen time and time again. Conferences are held, hashtags are circulated, and Starbucks videos go viral. Only for the issues of racial reconciliation to be buried under the most recent post after the timeline of our lives have been refreshed. The MLK 50 conference was great, the conversations at Together for the Gospel are a good step, now we need to make sure these conversations and initiatives continue. Too often these moments parallel Black Panther and Infinity Wars. We are too easily entertained and distracted away from weighty matters by whatever is next. We make progress by casting racial unity in our Christian theatre but are satisfied to give unity a cameo in following productions, when in reality it should be co-star. Moments are created out of the urgency for unity in Christ, but we are easily tempted to rest after making the meal, instead of sitting at the table to eat with the guests we’ve invited.
Another key to Marvel’s success is character development. Each hero has their own movie, or movies, in which we are allowed to delve into their origin stories. Watching the Avengers assemble without having watched a single avenger, detracts from the story arc that draws us into their universe. Think about the cast of the Avengers. A genius with commitment issues carrying the weight of the world, who can’t verbalize how he feels except in sarcasm. Another intellectual living with a mistake that has left him battling an inner demon that threatens to consume him if he can’t control his anger. A double agent trained since childhood in seduction, lies, and cutting off her emotions. Lastly, a hammer wielding warrior with a dysfunctional family. A family including a step brother that resents him, a long-lost sister he never knew, and the realization that his father actively covered these things up. The beauty is in the brokenness, of this cast of characters.
Knowing that these broken pieces have come together despite their flaws to fight for a singular cause. Is this not what the body of Christ should look like? Knowing the struggles of every member in the body as we fight together for the Kingdom. Let us not forget as we continue to focus on the Gospel. Make no mistake the Gospel, and the Kingdom of God are always the main focus. However, just as character development is paramount in successful pictures, it is paramount in faithful living as well. This is an all-out war we fight to bring God’s Kingdom. Winning this war depends on not losing sight of the various battles we are currently engaged in.