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Greek mythology clearly shows that the great god Zeus loved to party.
Such crazy things were happening when Norse demigod Thor and a group of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) superheroes entered Omnipotence City in “Thor: Love and Thunder.” The Greek gods are in full force, with Zeus as king, but also many other deities from other cultures.
Valkyrie, the female king of New Asgard, noted, calling roll, the off-screen presence of another deity – the “Carpentry God”.
Curious minds want to know if, to quote WhatCulture.com, the film’s director Taika Waititi had “confirmed the actual existence of Jesus in the MCU?” … Without showing Jesus, Waititi has plausible deniability: Valkyrie could have been talking about the Greek god of carpenters Hephaestus, or even Lu-Ban, the god of carpentry from Chinese mythology.
The cosmology of Marvel superhero movies has become so complex that it’s hard to know precisely what’s being said, noted Thom Parham, a screenwriter who teaches at Palm Beach Atlantic University. At first, superheroes were just aliens instead of gods or demigods.
“But now we have sub-deities. They want to have their cake and eat it too,” Parham said, after returning from Comic-Con 2022 in San Diego. “We have gods and we have demigods. We have Greek gods and we have Egyptian gods. We have the Eternals and we have the Celestials.
When Parham heard the reference to the “Carpentry God”, he felt that “a dangerous line had been crossed. … What are they saying? I don’t think they know that yet.
With “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” set to be released in November, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will reach 30 movies, and a dozen or more sequels are planned. The franchise has grossed $27 billion at the worldwide box office.
In terms of religious messaging, the MCU has come a long way since Captain America, after hearing Loki described as a god, said, “There’s only one God…and I’m pretty sure there is. don’t dress like that.” The New Rockstars YouTube channel had over 50 gods in “Thor: Love and Thunder” alone.
It’s almost impossible to ignore the role this franchise plays in global popular culture, said film critic Steven Greydanus of DecentFilms.com, who is an ordained Catholic deacon. Some religious leaders continue to pursue MCU themes that “connect in some way with the Bible, divine revelation, and Christian thought.” Others decided that it was a “giant worthless wasteland” and that believers should enter the megaplexes “with our knives drawn”.
It’s easier to make those kinds of decisions when it comes to artistic works – such as ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Harry Potter’ – built on a single author’s worldview, he said. -he declares.
But Marvel movies and TV series are created by dozens of artists hired by corporate executives targeting China, Russia, the Middle East and theaters around the world. Thus, they were “cleaned up” until “these characters tended to believe nothing or defend nothing,” Greydanus said. But it’s hard to avoid religion when creating mythologies that include creation, miracles, superpowers, healing, eternal life, and good versus evil.
In a Catholic World Report essay titled “Love and Thunder, Meaning Nothing? Religion and Nihilism in Recent Marvel Movies,” Greydanus posed this moral question: “What is the basis for reward and punishment in the MCU’s various afterlifes (or whatever ultimate reality happens to be? hidden behind various cultural perceptions of the afterlife)? We are told that there are conditions to reach Valhalla or the Egyptian field of reeds; what is the basis of these conditions? »
In the new movie “Thor”, a character named Eternity – a god above other gods – grants a wish to the first being that reaches it. This wish can be good or bad.
“He’s kind of a one-hit God. It’s hard to build a religious worldview around that kind of idea,” Greydanus noted. Meanwhile, the Marvel Universe keeps getting bigger and more complicated, and “every movie has to use a bigger, bigger canvas, with even bigger mysteries to unravel.
“The more you try to tell us about all the mysteries of this universe, the less room we have to search for a sign from God or a source of ultimate truth. … It’s hard not to wonder, ‘Who created this? cinematic Mount Olympus? Who’s in charge?’ ”
(Terry Mattingly runs GetReligion.org and lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is a senior fellow at the Overby Center at the University of Mississippi.)