On this episode of Finding Christ in Cinema, we take the elevator beneath the Triskelion and look for Christian themes in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. What can we learn from SHIELD and HYDRA’s solution to the world’s depravity? Are they acting in spirit and in truth like Captain America? All that and more in 3…2…1?
S.H.I.E.L.D., HYDRA, and Depravity
Man has always searched for a way to deal with its own depravity. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Project Insight is that solution. As far as Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. are concerned, Project Insight will eradicate any threat to Mankind before it even becomes a threat. This is a most honorable notion indeed, except that it doesn’t just stop with threats to Mankind. As the story progresses and as we thus discover that S.H.I.E.L.D. has actually been infiltrated by HYDRA, we also realize that Project Insight isn’t protecting Mankind but HYDRA. Yes, Project Insight is superficially righteous but highly selfish at the core.
Project Insight, though, is just S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA’s way of coping with Mankind’s depravity. To Nick Fury and Alexander Pierce, Mankind cannot be trusted with their own freedom; certain measures, therefore, have to be taken in order to guarantee security and self-preservation. Once Fury realized what the fulfilling of Project Insight would actually mean for Mankind, he was then convinced that the wholly corrupted system had to come down. In order for the parasite to die, the host had to die first (let that have its own implications).
For us as The Winter Soldier‘s audience, we get an image of Mankind trying to save itself from its own damnation, and we simply know that it is a fruitless endeavor; Mankind cannot save itself. Thankfully, as Paul puts it in his letter to the Church in Ephesus:
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. … God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:1-3, 8)
Once upon a time (maybe even still), we were subject to the same kind of depravity that S.H.I.E.L.D., and HYDRA, and God all condemned. And all three of them would have used our pasts examples of this depravity to punish our futures. Fortunately, though, God offers us a pardon from the incoming wrath through His son Jesus the Christ. And while the invitation is open to everyone, it is only fulfilled by those who have the faith and believe in that superhero-esque saving power.
In Spirit and In Truth
Steve Rogers comes as the Christ-figure in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and reveals a mystery to Nick Fury just as Jesus did to the woman at the well in John 4. Fury is like the Jewish people in that they should have known God’s heart, whereas the Samaritans knew next to nothing about YAHWEH; they had lost most of their knowledge of Him and forgotten the rest. Regardless, both are operating under Law, just as Pierce and Fury are operating a solution to cure the ills of man (because depravity).
But it doesn’t matter because Jesus (and Captain America) leveled the playing field for the whole world. And He gave hope to the Samaritan woman; He fixed the broken relationship she has with God (she is talking with Him!!); and He brings her salvation. Even as Nick Fury and the Samaritan woman couldn’t fully understand, Jesus (and Captain America) promise them this:
But the time is coming — indeed it’s here now — when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. (John 4:23)
According to this passage, God isn’t looking for entities like S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA to protect the world by holding a giant gun to everyone’s head. Instead, He’s looking for people who will worship Him and love Him the way He tells us to: by loving our neighbors just as much as He loves us. Not just a little, but all the way to the end of the line.
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Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.
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