Avengers and the Culture War

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Home > Media > News > Avengers and the Culture War
Avengers and the Culture War
Photo: Cherie O'Meara

By Tomasz Juszczak, Director Office of Youth Evangelisation

As a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, when the most recent instalment in the series came out, Avengers Endgame, I bought tickets for it the day it was released. Although I’m bursting to discuss this latest film, I won’t do so just yet as I don’t want to spoil the movie for people who may not have seen it. For now I’ll just look at the movie’s prequel, Avengers: Infinity War.

One particular point about Infinity War that struck me was how pro-life the movie’s message was. The villain in this movie, Thanos, is someone who seems to have good intentions behind his evil acts. He believes that the universe is overpopulated which is causing widespread poverty and overuse of natural resources. To combat this issue, he wants to destroy half of all living creatures, to restore balance to the universe so life can thrive at a more comfortable level. By wiping out half of all humanity, Thanos genuinely believes he is doing the world a favour.

Firstly, Thanos misdiagnoses the problem. The world isn’t overpopulated. If every single person in the world was to live as a family of four in a two-story house with a front/backyard, earth’s whole population would fit into the state of Texas. What is a problem is that the wealthiest 10 per cent of the population is consuming 90 per cent of all resources. Perhaps the widespread practice of virtue, rather than population control, would address this issue?

Secondly – and this is the point that the Avengers subtly make – no matter how bad the earth’s environmental plight may be, the dignity of the human person still trumps all.

The Avengers don’t argue against Thanos’ recognition of genuine problems we face - those of poverty and environmental destruction - they simply defend the fact that he cannot destroy human life to solve them, even if it is for a perceived greater good. As the film draws to its close we see the great tragedy unfold as Thanos succeeds in his mission and people simply disappear: friends, heroes, great talents who have made great contributions. Each human person, as we see, is irreplaceable and unrepeatable.

I couldn't help but reflect on how Thanos’ vision is coming to fruition in our world today. Who are the friends and heroes who have been eradicated or never even allowed to exist for an apparent greater good?

To be continued in Avengers and the Culture Endgame…