Reviewed by Markus Watson
Running time: 121 min.
Our contents rating: Violence 7; Language 6; Sex/Nudity 2.
Our star rating (0-5): 4
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
I must admit, when I first heard that Marvel was going to make a movie called Guardians of the Galaxy, I thought to myself, “That sounds like the cheesiest movie ever!” Prior to their film releases, I’d heard of Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, and the Incredible Hulk. But I’d never heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy. But since most of the recent Marvel movies were pretty fun and well done, I had hope that this would also be a fun movie. And my hope was fulfilled!
Not only was Guardians of the Galaxy fun and exciting, it also had great characters and a great story that touches on a key theme in scripture. We’ll come to that in a moment.
Guardians of the Galaxy begins with a young Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) in the late 1980’s saying good-bye to his dying mother. As soon as he runs out of the hospital in tears, Peter is abducted by aliens.
Fast forward twenty-six years and Peter is now an outlaw—in his mind the “legendary outlaw” who calls himself Star Lord. He soon ends up in prison with four other outlaws: the beautiful green-skinned Gamora (Zoe Saldana), muscle-bound Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket the talking raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and Groot the walking tree (voiced by Vin Diesel), whose only three words are, “I am Groot.”
After they escape from prison together, these five fugitives decide to band together to stop the evil Ronan (Lee Pace), who intends to use a mysterious artifact called the Infinity Stone to wreak havoc on the galaxy. But coming to the decision to team up together is not easy. They each have their own agendas. They’re loners and, as Peter states, “losers—I mean, people who have lost stuff.” Each of them is broken and hurting in some way. And, yet, it’s the very fact that they’re broken that ultimately brings them together. So they come up with a plan to stop Ronan.
After much chasing and blasting, the Guardians finally catch up with Ronan. In a split second, Peter is able to grasp the Infinity Stone away from Ronan. But the power of the Stone is so great that it begins to tear Peter apart. Gamora reaches out to Peter and says, “Take my hand!” Then Drax and Rocket join in (Groot is not among them at this moment). As they stand hand in hand, Peter is able to channel the power of the Infinity Stone to destroy Ronan.
That last part sounds a little silly in writing, but it is a powerful moment in the movie. It is the moment in which the loners and losers decide to do something different. They decide to stand together. They decide that they are more powerful together than individually.
This is a beautiful image of the church. Before his death, Jesus prayed that his disciples “may be one as we are one” (John 17:11). The Apostle Paul repeatedly states that Christ’s followers are part of Christ’s body. We are not merely individuals. We are a body and a community.
I love the verse in Ecclesiastes that says, “Though one can be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). This truth is what the Guardians of the Galaxy learn as they stand united against Ronan.
It is also the truth of who we are as the church—as the body of Christ. The church is an assembly of people who are broken and hurting, people who are losers and who have lost stuff. We often try to hide our brokenness when we gather together on Sunday mornings. But it is our brokenness that we share in common. We may have nothing in common with the person in the pew next to us—except for the fact that we are both broken in some way. We are people who are in need of healing and wholeness and we can find as we stand together in Christ.
But that’s not all. We don’t merely find healing for ourselves. In the midst of our brokenness, when we stand together we can bring healing to the world. Alone, it is hard to make a difference in the world. But together we can have a profound impact.
And whereas the Guardians found strength in one another, we in the church have one thing in addition to that—something the Guardians did not have. We have the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8).
We find strength by standing together. And we find even greater strength when we stand together in the power of Holy Spirit. It is then, Jesus tells his followers, that “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). It is then that we can bring real healing and wholeness to a broken world; a world full of losers and people who have lost stuff.
Note: The review will appear in the Sept. issue of Visual Parables, along with a set of of 9 Reflection/Discussion questions ideal for a youth group to explore what it means to belong to the church.