**Spoiler Alert** The following contains plot details of the Marvel movie Thor (2011).
We love a superhero. The box office results prove that we love stories of suspense, danger and a bad guy, as long as there is a good guy who heroically defends us against the danger and defeats the evil. Our favorite superheroes put themselves in harm’s way to protect others, which is a common theme in superhero movies and stories. On rare occasion, the superhero even dies in the process. Though this is the upmost heroic act, it is also a sad way to end the story.
The storyline of the movie Thor caught my attention recently with its parallels to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The main character, a supposed god named Thor, is a very arrogant individual at the outset of the movie. He defies and despises authority, and as a result is banished by his own father from the heavenly realm in which he lives.
He is sent to earth and there is humbled through a series of events. His character improves as he learns some valuable lessons on earth and begins to value his father and his wisdom, realizing he was wrong to defy his authority. It is very hard for him to be banished from his power, glory and celestial homeland.
At the climax of the movie, a giant robot controlled by Loki (Thor’s brother and another “god” from the heavenly realm) has come to earth to kill Thor and destroy anything that stands in its way. Thor is currently in a small town through which the Destroyer makes its way, burning buildings and endangering the lives of the townspeople. In order to protect the people, Thor walks out and looks death in the face. He calls upon Loki to stop the killing, apologizing for his own wrongs. Loki agrees but as the Destroyer turns around to walk away, Loki has it smite Thor across the upper body and face with a mortal blow.
Thor dies from the blow, but the movie does not end there. Having learned his lesson and proved himself worthy with the ultimate act of self-sacrifice, Thor is resurrected and his power and glory are restored. He then destroys the Destroyer which is still a threat to the people. Having rescued his friends on earth, he travels back to his heavenly realm to rescue it from Loki and the bad guys.
Wow! What a storyline right? So compelling! What a hero!
But Thor’s heroism pales in comparison to the true story of Jesus and what He did to rescue man from destruction. While there are some striking similarities in the storyline of Thor and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there are also some massively important contrasts.
Unlike Thor, Jesus is perfect and sinless, worthy of all praise and worship. He was, is, and ever will be the King of kings, Lord of lords, and God of gods. In fact, He is the One True God, Creator and Sustainer of all things (Colossians 1:16-17).
Unlike Thor, Jesus voluntarily came to earth and humbled himself, cloaking His infinite glory in a finite, mortal, weak human body. Jesus was not involuntarily banished; Philippians 2:6-7 says, “Though He[Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
Unlike Thor, Jesus didn’t die for innocent bystanders who had done him no wrong. He took the just punishment of guilty sinners who had personally sinned against Him. Romans 5:7-8 says, “One will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
In the movie, Thor was resurrected from the dead because He had finally shown himself worthy. In reality, Jesus was always worthy, righteous, and sinless perfection. He died because He took upon Himself the consequences of others’ sin upon Himself. Jesus rose from the dead because He paid their debt to justice in full. Since justice was done, and death cannot hold a righteous man, Jesus rose from the dead.
In the movie, Thor fought and defeated the destroyer who threatened Earth’s inhabitants with death. In reality, Jesus fought and defeated death itself, and sin, which is the power of death, for all who are united to Him in faith. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 says, “’O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In the movie, Thor returned to heaven and defeated his enemies there. In reality, Jesus ascended to heaven—a heaven united behind its infinitely worthy and glorious, always righteous King—and He is coming back one day to defeat His enemies here on this earth.
Jesus is waiting for the moment of His return, and what a merciful thing this is! He waits, giving time for to those who continue in their sin and rebellion against Him and rejecting His terms of surrender. His terms are these: stop trusting in yourself and receive His forgiveness by believing in His name.
Gratitude and joy fill my own heart as I consider what Jesus rescued me from. I shudder to think about where I would be apart from His heroics on my behalf. In my pride, I used to want to be the hero. I wanted the praise and honor of other people—praise and honor that rightfully belongs to God alone. There is a biblical term for this: idolatry. It is a crime worthy of eternal punishment. I thought that being a star football player would fulfill me, when in reality, only a relationship with my Maker could fill the void. But God did not hold my sins against me. In love and self-sacrifice, He saved me from the punishment justice demanded by his death on the cross. Now I pray for help so that others can see the worthiness of Jesus alone, and glorify the One who truly deserves it. I want everyone to know that they too can be rescued from the destroyer of sin, have forgiveness, and get to know the ultimate Superhero who died for villains like me.