Excelsior! (Yes, I Am a Marvel Nerd)

When I was a kid my dad had this book of Marvel origins stories–basically a bunch of #1 comic books bound together before “graphic novel” was even a term. Featuring stories by Stan Lee and those strong jaws by Jack Kirby, it included the origins of Iron Man, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, the X-Men, Spider-man, Silver Surfer, and a handful of others–and yup, the Avengers. (I’m pretty sure the Fantastic Four were in there too.)

Photo by andertoonsDad also had a stack of Superboy comics that I devoured (probably bringing their market value down, although I was veeeery careful with them and always put them back in the plastic covers). I loved them.

But I loved the very scary, very much more grown-up Spider-man comics that he ALSO had much more.

When I was a slightly older kid and we were going through a Saturday morning cartoon watching phase, in the 1990s, my absolute hands-down favourite cartoon EVER was X-Men: The Animated Series.

(I have watched the entire thing again as an adult and I have to say, this is still a killer cartoon.)

Yes, friends, I am a Marvel nerd. I have been one since childhood.

That makes me a very happy moviegoer these days. Truth be told I am not much of a moviegoer at all, so when I DO go to the movies, it’s a pretty safe bet the film opens with all those comics flashing over the letters MARVEL.

Of course, for me all stories relate to the One Story that we’re living in, the story of the kingdom of God. That’s actually one thing I like about the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe)–they’re telling a lot of little stories, but they’re all part of a bigger story as well, all building up to a single eventual climax and resolution, where everyone and everything affects everyone and everything else.

Much like our lives, and our stories.

To the lone individual living out a few frames in this epic we call life on earth, it might not seem like our struggles, triumphs, heartbreaks, and little victories mean much. (Tell me I’m not the only one who works through this kind of angst on a weekly/monthly/okay-sometimes-daily basis.) But put it all together and suddenly everything is shown to have more meaning than we ever could have guessed; nothing is isolated after all.

Everything matters.

Avengers: Age of UltronThe latest installment in the MCU, Avengers: Age of Ultron, is a prime example. I’ve actually seen this movie three times, and it gets more interesting every time because as I stop scrambling to keep up with the plot, I catch more of the resonances from the other films, stretching all the way back to Iron Man in 2008.

Going back to the point above, there’s a moment in the movie where the Avengers are on the verge of disintegrating. Not because they called a team meeting and decided to part ways, but because so many members of the team are tempted to walk–believing the others are better off without them.

The story would go better if they weren’t in it.

Their personal nightmares are looming so large in their own eyes that they can’t see the big picture anymore.

“I had a dream,” Black Widow says, “that kind that seems so normal at the time, but when you wake up . . .”

“What did you dream?” Bruce Banner interrupts.

“That I was an Avenger,” she tells him.

But she IS an Avenger, and so is he. Despite their imperfections, their pasts, their very real sins, and their deep-seated fears.

Every one of them matters.

Just like I do. Just like you do.

We didn’t choose to be part of this story, but here we are. It’s not a dream. As deeply flawed as we are, the credits aren’t going to roll until we’ve all finished our parts.

Actually, I find so much food for thought in the Marvel movies that I am planning, with my friend and co-laboror in ministry Mercy Hope, to write a book about the spiritual parallels we see. We’re hoping to have that out (vol. 1 anyway) in the next year. You heard it here first. And yes, that’s one more in a long line of projects … but like Stan Lee always said:


Any other Marvel fans out there? What are your favorites? Anybody else see spiritual pictures in amidst the capes, aliens, and genocidal robots?







One response to “Excelsior! (Yes, I Am a Marvel Nerd)”

  1. Brent Andersom Avatar

    Yes, I’m a total Marvel fan too. I have also pondered the many spiritual parrellels in the movies. Marvel movies are the Greek Myths of our time.

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