Guest post By Scott Bayles, founder and leader of Costumers for Christ.
As I gear up for the re-release of Avenger’s Endgame (and my third time seeing the movie), I’ve had time to reflect on what I liked and disliked about it.
Let’s be honest, there wasn’t much to dislike. I love so much of this movie. Sure, they may have used some fuzzy logic when it came to time travel, but we all know how wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff can get. Avenger’s: Endgame is an electrifying and emotionally satisfying conclusion to the first decade of Marvel movies full of both tear-jerking and stand-up-and-cheer moments. That said, there was one scene that really bothered me the first time I saw it—the death of Black Widow.
In the wake of Thanos’ victory in Avenger: Infinity War, the arrow wielding Avenger, Hawkeye, lost his wife and children. Devastated by their demise, Hawkeye goes rogue, unleashing his anger and aggression on every wrongdoer and reprobate he comes across. Black Widow follows the trail of bodies until she finally catches up to him murdering a gang of Yakuza in Toyko. “Killing all these people isn’t going to bring your family back,” Natasha reminds him. She then coaxes Clint to rejoin the team.
Later, in their quest to retrieve the Soul Stone, Black Widow and Hawkeye face an impossible choice. One of them must sacrifice themselves to recover the stone and save the universe. “If we don’t get that stone, billions of people stay dead,” Natasha explains. “Then I guess we both know who it’s got to be,” Clint replies. “I guess we do,” Natasha agrees. Suddenly it dawns on Clint, “I’m starting to think we mean different people here, Natasha.”
Black Widow pleads with Hawkeye to let her be the one to die, “I’m trying to save your life, you idiot.” But Clint responds, “Yeah, well, I don’t want you to, how’s that? Natasha, you know what I’ve done. You know what I’ve become.” Natasha graciously replies, “Well, I don’t judge people on their worst mistakes.”
In the moments that follow, and intense battle between friends ensues as each Avenger struggles to sacrifice his/herself while saving the other. In the end, Black Widow wins. Natasha throws herself from the cliff, sacrificing her life to save the life of her friend (and billions more).
This scene didn’t sit well with me. I walked out of the theater thinking, “It should have been Hawkeye. He went down a dark path. He murdered people. This was his chance to redeem himself. Instead, he gets to go home to his wife and kids and live happily ever after, while Natasha dies in his place.” It wasn’t until I watched it a second time that it hit me: Isn’t that exactly what Jesus did for me?
Hawkeye deserved to die. He didn’t deserve to be forgiven and live happily ever after. But Natasha loved Clint. Even knowing what he had become, she withheld judgement. She showed mercy and grace, and then gave her life in his place. This is the Gospel in a nutshell.
Maybe you haven’t gone on a violent killing streak, but you and I have sinned against God in so many ways. We deserve to be punished for our sins. We don’t deserve to life happily ever after in Heaven. Yet, Jesus came to earth full of grace and mercy, and then gave his life in our place. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NLT). My mistake was thinking that Clint could redeem himself. He couldn’t. Neither can we. But just as Natasha gave her life to give Clint a second chance, Jesus gave his life to redeem you and me. I can just imagine Jesus shouting, “I’m trying to save your life, you idiot!”
If, like me, you plan to see Avenger’s: Endgame again this weekend, let Black Widow’s death and Hawkeye’s redemption be a reminder to you of the unrelenting, unfathomable, unparalleled grace of God freely given by Jesus Christ on the cross.
For Nathan Marchands post on Scott Bayles site go here.
For Eric’s post on Nathan’s site go here.