It’s easy to see how our heroes failed in Infinity War. For one, they had very little advance knowledge of their enemy. Banner’s warning to Dr. Strange and Iron Man came moments before Thanos’s henchman arrived. They are all spread out all over the world with little or no communication. Captain America and Iron Man aren’t on speaking terms. Vision and Scarlet Witch are attempting to live a normal life incognito. Banner hadn’t even been on Earth for a few years. They are divided, and this division leads to their downfall. *Spoilers ahead*
We see this in how they fought separated battles with Thanos instead of a unified battle. Iron Man, Spiderman, Doctor Strange, and The Guardians of the Galaxy engaged him on Thanos’s old home planet. Though they are almost successful, Quill attacks Thanos when he realizes that he killed Gamorah. This allows Thanos to come out of the Mantis-induced trance and to successfully subdue them all. Dr. Strange then gives up the time stone to save Iron Man’s life.
Related Post: A Body that Embraces Unity
Back on Earth, the other Avengers are trying to save Vision’s life by removing the mind stone from his forehead to destroy it before Thanos can get it. Thanos’s army arrives, and they run out of time. Scarlet Witch destroys the mind stone, killing Vision, at his request. However, when Thanos arrives moments later, he uses the time stone to turn back time and get the stone. The other Avengers keep trying to kill Thanos before he uses the stones, and Thor with his new weapon comes closest when he slices into Thanos’s chest. Thanos does not die, though, and says that Thor should have aimed for the head instead. He snaps his fingers, disappears into a gateway, and then people begin to disappear.
Failure Divides Them
Each hero carries the weight of failure individually–Iron Man feels guilt about his young protege, Spider-Man; Thor regrets not using a more killing blow; and so on. Their guilt also separates them from each other. In Avengers: Endgame, after Iron Man and Nebula are rescued, what’s left of the team discusses their next steps. Stark, recovering from almost dying and hooked up to an IV angrily accuses Captain America of not being there. He blames him for their defeat.
All hope seems lost until Antman comes back from the Quantum realm with an idea that could give them all another chance. Later, when this new plan is birthed, Iron Man approaches Captain America with forgiveness, saying that the resentment was corrosive. This is a turning point for them as a team. While Iron Man and Captain America are divided, the Avengers are useless. Zemo’s plans begun in Civil War is a large part of their failures in Infinity War. The reversal of that division is what brings them success.
Related Post: Stop Judging and Start Loving
This renewed vision provides the opportunity for them to work together as a team, as a family. This is an important theme in the Avengers series. We see discussions of fatherhood with Iron Man and his father and then his own daughter. We observe Hawkeye and his devotion to his wife and children and Antman with his daughter. But we also see non-traditional families with Thor/Loki and Nebula/Gamorah), and the family of the Avengers for Black Widow. Instead, what made them a family is not blood, but rather commitment, a unified purpose, and a willingness to forgive the past.
Unity Should Be a Priority
There are obvious correlations here to the church. Our strength and success lay in our unity. Jesus’s final prayer was for the unity of believers and not just those with him at that moment.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:20-23 ESV
Our unity is an important part of our effectiveness. If we want the world to know Jesus as Messiah, our unity or lack of unity has the potential to validate or invalidate this. We are our own greatest enemy when we allow the same things that brought the Avengers down to bring us down:
- Taking failure personally and believing this disqualifies us
- Fostering unforgiveness towards other members of the group
- Allowing different perspectives to cloud our unified vision
- Permitting personal woundedness to distract us from our purpose
- Forgetting the power of family– especially chosen family
Overcoming the Enemy
We too have an enemy like Zemo whose purpose is to bring disunity and brokenness among our ranks. He knows that a broken church is a lot less effective than a unified one. He will encourage us to focus on all the ways we are personally wounded by others to get us to forget the mission set before us. Once we are divided, like the Avengers were, he can easily beat us in small skirmishes.
The only way to stop this is to recognize the temptations that beset the church and remember what we have in common–Jesus and the Gospel. This can be our rallying cry though we might differ in a million ways. Captain America and Iron Man disagreed on principles they both held dear, but they also knew they needed each other to get the job done. This trumped their personal differences. Whatever our divisive issues may be, they can never be more important than fulfilling the ministry of reconciliation with which we’ve been entrusted.