“We were always meant to say goodbye.” | “Already Gone” by Sleeping At Last
Nostalgia. All the Feelings. Bittersweet. The End of An Era.
I don’t think we realize how privileged we are to be living in the time of the Avengers. The Marvel Cinematic Universe created an era that’s about to end next week. Granted, I know they have more movies planned but this is the end of The Avengers and if this to be their end, I would have them make such an end as to be worthy of remembrance (see how seamlessly Lord of the Rings fits into everything?).
Mmkay, now I realize that some of you probably couldn’t care less about a bunch of superheros running around in ridiculous-looking outfits, blowing things up, and navigating their own dysfunctional lives. I get that. So I’d say say this post isn’t for you but actually, I think it is. As the Most High is growing me, I’m learning that lessons can be found EVERYWHERE. We just have to willing to open our eyes and see them and receive them when they come. So bear with me, please, and read through to the end. I’ll endeavour to make it worth your while.
Because I’m nostalgic and sentimental, I’m gonna indulge in a bit of reminiscing. Those of us who’ve grown up in the Time of The Avengers or The Time of Marvel have been privileged souls indeed. Think about it. We’re gonna get to tell our grandchildren, “honey, I was there when Endgame came out in theatres and millions of lovely humans nearly died from the emotional overload” (’cause, quite frankly, I think that’s what’s gonna happen to us fans next weekend…). And they’re gonna look at us with wide eyes and open mouths because The Time of the Avengers was a legendary era.
Once again, think about it. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has managed to unite people all over the globe and to get them cheering when Captain America emerged from the shadows in Infinity War. It’s incredible, at least to me. They’ve created characters with so much emotional depth and so many developed character arcs that millions of people have rallied behind their favourites and are pleading with the Marvel powers-that-be to let Bucky Barnes, Steve Rodgers, and Tony Stark live and to bring The God of Mischief back from the grave. That’s incredible. From Marvel’s inception in 2008 until now, they’ve spawned a Moment, a historic Moment that has lasted for 11 years. I’ve read theories that say because 2008 was when the recession hit America, Americans were only too ready to have a symbol to rally around and Iron Man, which hit theatres in 2008, just so happened to fit the bill. And that’s how it began.
And now here we are, 11 years later, history made. It’s kinda like when the Beatles came to America and everyone was freaking out. It’s like one of those national/world-wide Moments that people are gonna remember for ever. My goal isn’t to make you care about The Avengers Saga or to suddenly become passionate enough to sit down and marathon all 20 movies ’cause I get what it means to have personal preferences and to dislike certain kinds of entertainment. I personally am not a super fan of Star Wars even though I grew up during 1,2, and 3. I’m not really a die-hard Marvel fan either, though I find The Avengers fascinating. But my goal is to share lessons the Most High has used The Avengers to teach me. Lessons that we all can benefit from. If you get curious and decide to give Marvel a chance, more power to ya, but if not, I can’t say you’re missing out (even though…yeah, you are haha).
On to the lessons.
So I’d never watched any of the Iron Man movies until a week ago. Mainly because Tony Stark turned me off in a major way. His snarky arrogance and his insufferable ego reeked to high heaven. Buuuuuut I finally decided to give him a chance (which instantly put me in a Marvel mood and gave me Endgame Shivers of Excitement like you wouldn’t believe!) and I’m beyond glad I did. If you’ve never watched Iron Man, I only recommend the first one. The other two really aren’t worth your time. I barely made it through the second one and ditched the third one after 8 minutes. The villains are a bit stale and lacking in depth and, personally, I love a good villain because they’re massively difficult to write and to write well (watch The Dark Knight to see what it means to write a good villain!!!). Anyway, give Iron Man a go if you’re interested but don’t bother with 2 and 3.
Tony Stark has incredible depth and his character development truly surprised me. He’s overwhelmingly human and I think that’s why he’s wormed his way under the superficial first-layer of my heart 😛 He doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not. Now, granted, what he is isn’t exactly endearing but he fully recognizes that. He’s entirely self-absorbed, dangerously narcissistic, self-destructive, impulsive, reckless, and the list could go on and on. And when people are like that, you know a fall is coming. Proverbs 16:18 spells it out rather nicely: “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” When we’re riding high, the Most High tends to bring us low. We get cocky and then we need a reality check, a wake-up call to remind us how fallen we really are. Perspective. Tony Stark got tortured in a cave in the Middle East and found perspective real fast.
I won’t go into detail because, ya know, spoilers (as River Song would say…cue Doctor Who reference #1), but the filthy-rich boy with the Hollywood swagger took a trip to the Middle East to moralize the troops and came back a filthy-rich man with a Hollywood swagger that had dialed down a few notches. And this is where we get to the bit about what makes Tony Stark so incredibly human: growth. He didn’t change over-night. Perspective slapped him in the face when shrapnel pierced his body and nearly smashed into his heart and he had to walk around with a blue-flashy-light-thingy (cue Doctor Who reference #2) stuck in his chest-cavity to keep him alive. But just because he got a dose of reality didn’t mean he suddenly became a saint. He went back home and his heart just started to poke through.
He was still a womanizer but he stopped taking Pepper (his secretary/the-one-who-kept-him-grounded-though-he-didn’t-figure-it-out-until-he-got-kidnapped) for granted. My favourite scene of the whole movie was when he had to change out the arc reactor in his chest for a new one and he called Pepper in ’cause her hands were “petite” enough to fit in the gaping hole. Aside from just phenomenal acting (’cause it was just such a real-life moment and their dialogue was spot on…in fact, I’ll link it here* so you all can give it a look if you’re interested….it just gave my writer’s heart all kinds of happy writer-ly feelings but I completely understand if it leaves you feeling eh :P), the scene showcased Tony Stark in rare form. He told Pepper that he didn’t have anyone else but her and he didn’t mean it romantically. Granted, he said it in a bit of an off-handed fashion but pre-Middle-East-Tony wouldn’t have even uttered those words, romantically or otherwise. He was growing, however slowly and awkwardly.
*A little side-note, Pepper does take the Lord’s Name in vain twice in the above-mentioned scene, just as a word of caution before you watch it.*
The guy who fixed his chest in the cave told him “don’t waste it…don’t waste your life, Stark” ’cause up to that point, Anthony Stark had been wasting his life with every inch of his being. He’d been partying it up without realizing that the lights were going out, the curtain was falling, and the last act was on the horizon. Perspective hit him like a jackhammer but reality was still sinking in, hence the slow nature of his full transformation. He regressed big time in Iron Man 2 and it was almost as if the Middle East trauma never even happened (part of the reason why Iron Man 2 isn’t really worth your time….). But isn’t that just incredibly like a human? The Most High disciplines us, those of us who are His children, yet we return over and over to the Darkness like pigs return to their vomit. We’re fools. Silly little fools who don’t get the message and need a million wake-up calls ’cause we think we’re invincible. We kid ourselves into thinking that this is the last time. We’ll indulge in whatever sin it is and then get our act together later. But later never comes and the cycle continues. We need Him, lovely humans. We need Him every minute of every hour of every day. We need His love and mercy and grace even though we don’t deserve a single drop of it.
Who knew you could learn that from The Avengers and from Tony Stark no less?
By the time Captain America: Civil War rolled around, Tony Stark had grown up. He fought Steve Rodgers not because he had something to prove but because he believed whole-heartedly in what he was fighting for (and yes, finding out that his parents didn’t just “die” in a car crash had a lot to do with it too but spoilers…). The whole situation eerily reminded him of his inception as Iron Man, of the reasons he shut down the weapons-manufacturing division of his mammoth company in the first place. He’d learned his lesson and he wasn’t about to waste his life by stepping into the shadows and retreating from the fight when he knew there was something worth fighting for. Life with The Avengers had sobered him up and he wasn’t partying it up nearly as much any more. There was too much at stake. And that’s called growth. And that’s why I have a new-found respect and, yes, love, for Iron Man. We’ve left him in space, willing to sacrifice his life for the good of everyone else and when our eyeballs finally view the 3 hour and 10 minute masterpiece in theatres in several days, we’ll find out what happens. But I sure as anything don’t want this to be the end of the line for Tony Stark.
This is why I believe we’re privileged to live in the time of The Avengers. A time when characters aren’t lying stagnant in mediocrity but are rising to become everything they can be. Tony Stark was living beneath his potential and apathetically receiving from the sidelines of life without giving anything of substance in return (because throwing cash around like some sort of vending machine isn’t giving anything of substance if you don’t have the heart and soul behind it that you should). He’s still incredibly human and flawed but, dare I say it, he’s a good man. He wasn’t at first, but he is now.
So yeah, that’s what Tony Stark has taught me. To grow. To rise. To never stay stagnant. To become everything the Most High God has created me to be. To be patient with those who are still growing. To remember that taking two steps backward is sometimes part of the process. But like a favourite pastor of mine likes to say, it’s about the overall trajectory of your life. Are you moving upward to glory despite the valleys on your line graph of life? King David had a really dark sinful time in his life: murder, lying, and adultery; all in the space of several days. He committed adultery, lied to the woman’s husband, and then had him murdered. And then on top of it all, the Most High cursed his family because of his egregious sin. The son he had from his illicit affair died and trouble plagued his house throughout his successive generations. Yet, despite all of that, the Most High called David a man after His own heart! He repented of his sin when he was confronted and he returned to his God. He had a deep valley on his line graph of life but the overall trajectory of his existence was upward, always upward, reaching for the King.
Now none of this is to imply that Tony Stark is a Christian. Not in the slightest. Despite his reformation, it’s clear he’s by no means saved and that’s because human 180-degree-turns don’t cut it. We need a Saviour ’cause we can’t go it on our own. So while Tony’s an example to be learned from, he’s not the Ultimate.
So for those of us heading to the theatres in the coming days, let’s take heart. If it’s time to leave, remember what you’re leaving, remember the best (cue Doctor Who reference #3). We all knew it was gonna end some time; the best things always do. But it was grand fun. And yeah, I’m willing to follow Marvel one last time, all the way to the credits and beyond, even if the sun’s gettin’ real low.
RDJ or Tony Stark, they’ve practically morphed into the same person at this point 😛 Look closely in his glasses for a little surprise 🙂
P.S The cover photo for this post is Bucky and Steve because they’re quite possibly my favourites ❤