At Oak Grove, we want to train students in biblical discernment in their lives. One of the practical ways we can do that is with media. When it comes to media, many people simply consume, unaware of the sub-messages being communicated, or they may decide to withhold from the “secular” realm altogether. I believe that there is a spectrum between secular and sacred, rather than separate black and white categories, which means that all media speaks to “supernatural” and our collective perspective of the human condition. In a sense, movies could be characterized as America’s storytellers. Not only do Hollywood films reflect certain commonly held attitudes and beliefs about what it means to be American, but they also portray contemporary trends, issues, and events, serving as records of the eras in which they were produced. Do we pay attention to what is communicated in media and the influence that it has on our lives?
We want to create an environment where students will be trained to interact with media constructively and critically. Instead of running away – engaging it, while being careful to filter what needs to be filtered. As a Pastor, I cannot make a list of what is allowed and disallowed for students and have them honor it. As parents, we could make rules, but they may break them without understanding the why behind the rules. Instead, students need to learn how to make those boundaries themselves. If we do not model that for them at church, at home, and at youth group, how are they going to learn it? For this reason, we schedule nights of “film and theology” whereas a group, we will watch a movie, then spend 20 minutes after discussing the sub-messages found within. Conversations about media, consumption, holiness, and Christianity will be a continual thread through Oak Grove Student Ministry.
Avengers: Endgame (2019) – Here’s What You Need to Know
The Marvel Cinematic Universe made room for our broken world and deemed that broken world worth saving.
We believe that good is stronger than evil. We believe in our happy endings. And in fight after fight, movie after movie, our faith was rewarded.
And then came Avengers: Infinity War, and everything changed. Good lost. The happy ending never materialized. Thanos walked into the sunset as the credits rolled, leaving the galaxy to grieve. End. Done. Finished.
Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers — Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos — the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.
As of July 14, 2019, Avengers: Endgame has grossed $851.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $1.930 billion in other territories, for a worldwide total of $2.781 billion. It is the highest-grossing film of 2019, as well as the highest-grossing superhero film of all time, highest-grossing film based on a comic book, highest-grossing film released by Walt Disney Studios, second-highest-grossing film of all time worldwide and in the United States and Canada, as well as the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time worldwide when adjusted for inflation.
The perfect word is “ultimate.” Avengers: Endgame is not just a definitive punctuation mark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it finds the franchise at peak levels of scale, emotion, and iconography. For both its contextual weight and achievement, this movie is destined to become a touchstone in modern popular culture. Avengers: Endgame transcends comic book fandom and geek culture. It’s one of the most rewarding blockbusters in recent memory.
The best endings feel both surprising and inevitable, and Endgame sits at the center of that paradox. The twists in this movie feel singular—you can’t imagine things going any other way—and the more expected moments thrill nonetheless. It’s a complete exercise in payoff.
In fact, Endgame devotes almost its entire three-hour runtime to that sense of closure. The movie picks up right at the end of Infinity War and thrusts you alongside the survivors of Thanos’ snap with only the barest amount of exposition. The remaining Avengers are out to redeem their losses and correct history. They don’t have time for catch-ups and info dumps.
This is an efficient three-hour movie, but it’s still a three-hour movie. The action is grand and epic, but the visual effects are sometimes stretched so far your senses just can’t keep up. The huge web of the plot somehow supports the weight of every character, but some of your favorites are probably stuck at the bottom of the heap. These are predictable problems—perhaps they were inevitable—but in the context of this movie being the end-all, be-all for a good chunk of our heroes, it’s understandable that Avengers: Endgame leaves it all out there.
Rating: PG-13 | In summary, FocusOntheFamily’s Content Caution Assessment: Kids – Heavy; Teens – Medium; Adults – Light.
Heroism. Doing the right thing is often the risky thing too.
Designed Creation: At least one character notes how things seem providentially aligned for him to perform a critical task. “It’s like I was made for this,” he says.
At least one character expresses faith in an afterlife.
Sacrifice & Redemption
A man in Captain America’s support group talks about seeing another guy, apparently romantically. Couples kiss. Superheroes make both appreciative and crudely disparaging remarks about another superhero’s rear end. Many main players here wear formfitting outfits; one female’s top reveals some cleavage, and a couple of male characters spend significant time shirtless. We hear a passing verbal reference to nudity.
A character has his head lopped off: In replay we see a bit of blood appear to squirt from the neck. An arm is hacked off as well. Another character’s “flesh” is melted off the forearm, revealing skeleton-like robotics underneath. A character is tortured, while several others are trapped underneath loads of rubble. A few folks nearly drown, and another comes close to death through lack of oxygen.
A ship blows up a building. A superhero blows up a ship. Lots of things blow up, in fact. We also see roughly three bazillion battles, sometimes mano-a-mano, sometimes swarms of folks attacking just one character. People and creatures get impaled, stabbed, sliced, hacked, disintegrated, shot, thrown like ragdolls, hit, kicked, stomped (and in at least one case, squished) and otherwise hurt. Some characters die.
We hear at least eight s-words (one from former profanity critic Captain America) and perhaps one very indistinct f-word during the action. We also hear “a–,” “b–ch,” “d–n,” “h—,” “p-ss” and “d–k.” God’s name is misused about eight times, including twice with the word “d–n,” while Jesus’ name is abused once.
Drug & Alcohol Content
A character spends a good chunk of the movie drunk or tipsy. We see him imbibing several bottles of beer (and catch a glimpse of some barrels of beer meant for him), and he talks fondly of wine and Bloody Marys as well.
Questions to ask your student after the event:
- Who has God created you to be?
- What do you feel your purpose in life is?
- “Hey, Miss Potts. If you find this recording, don’t feel bad about this… part of the journey is the end.” – Tony Stark
- It is appointed unto man once to die. Death is part of the story for everyone.
- Grieving – Community is integral.
- The Avengers assemble to mourn together.
- What have you grieved and how did you get through it?
- Grief can lead to anger. “We lost part of ourselves…” – Steve Rogers
- Psalm 4:4 – Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still.
- Which character do you identify most with?
- Why do you think superhero movies are so successful in our culture?
- Where do the avengers get their sense of right and wrong?
- Meta-Narrative: There have been 22 Avenger movies, all that stand alone but point toward a larger narrative. The Bible reveals a meta-narrative as well – a story that has many heroic figures and all pointing to or preparing for the One who stands in the way of a “killing, stealing, destroying” enemy and save our lives.
- In what sense has the “small story” of your life contributed to the heroic mission of Jesus in the world – the “big story” of his commitment to redeem and restore us into relationship with God?
- For some heroes, hopelessness is a reality. Thor realizes that “if I’m wrong, what more can I lose?” and he pushes through even though all is seemed to be lost and a bigger hope remains. Likewise, in Matthew 16:18, the powers of Hell will not prevail against the church. Sure, Satan wins his share of fights, but with God equipping his people with the armor of God, the end is declared. Spiritual grit produces endurance, character, confidence, and hope.
- What is the “cure” for hopelessness?
- How do hope and optimism differ?
- Have you found that hope in Jesus is not dependent on circumstances?
I am super excited about this event. Please pray that God would work through it as a tool in the discipleship of our students. If you have concerns or questions, please feel free to reach out to me via email or my cell.