The MVP of the MCU: The Marvel Villain Problem of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

I am a fan of the superhero film genre.  I love (for the most part) the Marvel films.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe films have taken the genre to new heights.  But there is one prevailing problem in the MCU.  It is the MVP of the MCU: the Marvel Villain Problem.

(Spoilers if you have not seen any or all of the MCU films)

To boil it right down, the Marvel Villain Problem is this: they kill off the villain at the end of nearly every film.  You may not have thought about it given we are now 18 films in with the release of Black Panther but it is true.  Nearly every film in the MCU features the death of the main villain (and sometimes the secondary villain as well).  Here’s the list of MCU films and the fate of each main villain:

1.) Iron Man

Main Villain: Obadiah Stane. Status: Killed at the end of the film

2.) The Incredible Hulk

Main Villain: Emil Blonsky (Abomination).  Status: Alive, beaten and left with the army

3.) Iron Man 2

Main Villain: Ivan Vanko (Whiplash).  Status: Killed at the end of film

4.) Thor

Main Villain: Loki.  Status: Presumed dead but is still alive

5.) Captain America: The First Avenger

Main Villain: Red Skull.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

6.) The Avengers

Main Villain: Loki.  Status: Alive and in prison on Asgard

7.) Iron Man 3

Main Villain: Aldrich Killian.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

(One could argue that the Mandarin was also a main villain but they made that story to be that it wasn’t the real one but an actor so don’t know you could include that as a main villain)

8.) Thor: The Dark World

Main Villain: Malekith.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

9.) Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Main Villains: Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier), Alexander Pierce.  Status: Barnes – Alive and in hiding. Pierce – Killed at the end of the film

10.) Guardians of the Galaxy

Main Villain: Ronan.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

(One could argue Thanos as a main villain but he didn’t have that big a role in this one. That one is being saved for Avengers: Infinity War.)

11.) Avengers: Age of Ultron

Main Villain: Ultron.  Status: Killed (?) at the end of the film

(Ultron is a robot so the AI could still be out there but in the film, all of his bodies that he used were destroyed)

12.) Ant-Man

Main Villain:  Darren Cross/Yellowjacket.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

13.) Captain America: Civil War

Main Villain: Helmut Zemo.  Status: Alive and in custody (but not before he attempted suicide) at the end of the film

(a secondary villain (Crossbones) was killed early in the film)

14.) Doctor Strange

Main Villains: Kaecilius, Dormammu.  Status: Alive (?) in the Dark Dimension

(We know Dormammu is still alive, Kaecilius may be there as well as he was drawn into the dimension)

15.) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Main Villain: Ego.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

16.) Spider-Man: Homecoming

Main Villain: Adrian Toomes (Vulture).  Status: Alive and in prison at the end of the film

17.) Thor: Ragnarok

Main Villain: Hela.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

18.) Black Panther

Main Villain: Erik Stevens (N’Jadaka/Killmonger).  Status: Killed at the end of the film

(A secondary villain Ulysses Klaue is also killed in the film)


After going through these films, we have to take into account that one “main villain” is not a villain anymore.  So through 18 films, here is the list of villains still alive in the MCU: Abomination, Loki, Helmut Zero, Dormammu, Kaecilius, Vulture.  We also have Thanos (who will be the main villain in Avengers: Infinity War) Mordo (who will more than likely be the main villain in the sequel to Doctor Strange).  But in 18 films there are only 7 films where the main villain is alive at the end.  But that number is skewed because Loki is the main villain in 2 of those and another of those (Bucky Barnes) is now a hero in the MCU.  So if you throw out Barnes, it’s only 6 films (since Pierce died in Winter Solder).

So why is this a problem? Well for one, you drain the number of great villains from the comics.  Especially when you kill off great villains (Red Skull, Hela, Killmonger, Ultron) but even just villains that could develop into more if given longer opportunities (Stane, Crossbones, Ronan).  Now we don’t know what the plans are post Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel.  But unless they retcon at some point (which I don’t think that’s what Kevin Feige will do) there will come a point when they won’t have any strong villains left if they keep killing them off.  Or at least not enough to pose a viable threat to the Avengers post Infinity War.

Then again, Marvel may not feel like having another big team up film again.  But it is too bad we won’t ever see a huge villain team up film to oppose the Avengers (ala a Marvel version of the Legion of Doom).

Michael’s Rankings: Updated Marvel Cinematic Universe Films

Having just seen Thor: Ragnarok I was thinking about where it ranks as far as MCU films and then I realized that I haven’t updated them since 2015.  There have been several MCU films released since then as part of Phase 3.  So here I go with an “updated” listing.  There will be a little bit of changes to fit the new films in but my guess is the top film and the bottom film will probably still be the same. And I’m sure I will revisit this list and adjust accordingly as time goes on and even more films are released.  So here is the list (from least favorite to favorite):

17.) Thor:  The Dark World

The sequel to Thor resides at the bottom of the list.  Nothing against this film.  I enjoyed it but compared to the rest of the MCU and specifically to the first one, this one isn’t as good.  To me, the plot felt kinda disjointed and the Dark Elves could’ve been used better (or at least have potential to carry over into future films).  As you will probably notice in this list, Phase 2 films will occupy a lot of the lower ends of this list.  I’ll address that more here in a little bit.

16.)  Iron Man 3

While I do enjoy the reference to Tennessee in this film (though there is no location in Tennessee where Tony Stark visits), Iron Man 3 is the least enjoyable of the Iron Man trilogy.  I give it credit, it does reference The Avengers in trying to tie the story in the aftermath of those events on Stark.  However, it feels disjointed and the ending, while makes sense if you look at it as just an Iron Man trilogy, does not make sense when you look at the bigger MCU picture.  Hence, why it’s so far down on my list.

15.) Iron Man 2

The lowest film in Phase 1, Iron Man 2 is better than Iron Man 3 but compared to the rest of the MCU films, it’s not as enjoyable for me.  It does have the debut of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and she does a great job.  But when compared to the first Iron Man, this one misses the mark.

Captain America:  Civil War

I mentioned before (and will again shortly) about some films being higher on other people’s lists and some being lower.  This is one that probably for a lot of people would be higher but not on my list.  Like Winter Soldier, I’m not a big fan of the tone of this film.  I’m not a big fan of the impetus for the big clash between Cap & Stark.  I’m not a big fan in general of the portrayal of many of the characters in this film with the exception of Black Panther & Spider-Man.  So Avengers 2.5 as I’ve liked to call it is this far down on the list.

13.) Captain America:  The Winter Soldier

This will be the film that most will be higher on their lists.  Why is it so low on my list?  There are a couple of reasons.  One, I don’t like that they blew up S.H.I.E.L.D..  I get why they did it but I think there were a lot of miles they could’ve traveled with S.H.I.E.L.D. still working and on top of that I didn’t like that they said Hydra was pretty much around inside S.H.I.E.L.D. nearly the entire time of existence.  Two, compared to the first Captain America film, I didn’t necessarily like the tone.  Granted, I’m in the minority on that thought but that’s just me.  It’s a good film and probably out of all the Phase 2 films, it ties most into Avengers:  Age of Ultron the best.  But if I am going to choose between which Captain America film I’m going to watch, this one wouldn’t be my first choice.

12.) Thor

Out of the origin story films, Thor is the lowest.  I like Thor but again compared to other MCU films, it ranks lower.  I like the tone of this film better than The Dark World.  It helps that Loki is more prominent in this film as opposed to the sequel.  I will say the next several films are tough to rank because they are all kinda bunched up together.

11.) Avengers:  Age of Ultron

I’m sure that this film will be one that will be higher on other lists.  And I enjoyed it when I saw it in the theater.  However, the main problem that I had with the film is what made it less enjoyable than some other films.  That problem was continuity.  If you view the film on its own, it’s fine.  However, when you tie it in to the other MCU films, there are problems.  One of the main problems is the end of Iron Man 3 and zero explanation of how Stark went from the end of that film to Age of Ultron.  Hydra is barely around in the film and is a secondary villain at best.  The action scenes were great and I really like that they gave Hawkeye some quality screen time.  He was probably the best character in the film.  I’m going on record as saying this will probably be my least favorite Avengers film.

10.) Thor: Ragnarok

The newest MCU film as of this writing.  You can go back to my recent post to see my overall thoughts on the film.  In regards to this ranking, it is the best of the “trilogy” films so far and the best Thor film.  But in trying to be a Thor film, a Guardians film & a Hulk film, it finds itself here.  I like it better than Age of Ultron which has now become the MCU baseline film for these rankings.

9.) The Incredible Hulk

This will be the film that is lower on a lot of lists.  But I really enjoyed this film.  And I thought Edward Norton did a great job as Bruce Banner/The Hulk and I loved Liv Tyler as Betty Ross (which is another complaint about Age of Ultron, they dismiss Ross and have Banner together with Romanov…but given that Barton is married in MCU, that option wasn’t available, anyway…).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Mark Ruffalo fan and what he’s done with the role.  But this film tells a really good story.  I do hope at some point there is another Hulk standalone film.  But until then, this is the one.

8.) Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

Guardians Volume 2 is the highest ranking sequel on the list.  It did a great job of taking a lot of what worked in the first film and furthering the story along.  It hits the right tones of action, drama & comedy and ties things together with the first film.

7.) Ant-Man

Since the last ranking, Ant-Man dropped out of the top 5 because there were two good films that I liked more but it was tough.  I would definitely say the second half of this top 10 are really bunched together.  I’ll mention again why I really enjoyed this film is that it has the same beats as the first Iron Man.  Paul Rudd is Scott Lang & that totally is what makes the film work so well.

6.) Spider-Man:  Homecoming

These next two films were so hard to rank.  I almost could’ve went with a tie for fifth.  But I decided to go the first MCU Spider-Man film or as I also like to call it “The Redemption of Tony Stark”.  This film not only fully introduced Spider-Man into the MCU but redeemed Tony Stark after the events of Civil War.  It is one of the best Spider-Man films (which reminds me I should rank those at some point) and right up there in the MCU.

5.) Doctor Strange

I would guess this film might rank lower in some lists but I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange was great (even though it’s still weird hearing him with an American accent).  The vibe and feel of the film work well together and the story is compelling.  I would highly recommend watching the film while listening to the director’s commentary.  That is probably one of the best commentaries I’ve ever heard for a film.  So far this would be my favorite Phase 3 film and it does show that for the most part I’ve enjoyed the Phase 3 films more than Phase 2.

4.) Captain America:  The First Avenger

Captain America is one of my favorite superhero characters.  And I love the retro feel of this film.  In many ways those two characteristics are what make this film more enjoyable in my mind than The Winter Soldier and Civil War.  I wish though that the Red Skull had survived (and maybe he did, who knows?) but the tone of this film makes the rewatchability more enjoyable.

3.) Guardians of the Galaxy

The best Phase 2 film to me, this film was a lot of fun.  Of course the cast of characters makes the film that much enjoyable.  The film was unlike any other Marvel film up to that point and it’s charm and quirkyness make it stand out to me.  If there is one Phase 2 film I could watch, this would be the one.

2.) Iron Man

The original classic.  The one that started the whole thing.  I love the first Iron Man.  The story it tells is great.  If one goes back and rewatches it now one can see how dated it was.  There was talk of MySpace and there weren’t really any smart phones and a digital camera was used to take a picture.  But it still holds up really well.

1.) The Avengers

To me, the first Avengers film is my favorite.  I love the action.  I love the story.  I love the soundtrack.  It is an awesome film.  If I’m choosing Avengers films, this is the one I’m more likely to go with (that may change when Infinity War comes around but as of right now this is it).

So that’s my list.  Like I said, it’s a ranking of which ones I enjoy the most.  All of them are good films and can watch them again and again.  There was some shuffling around and obviously next year there will be even more shuffling.

A Story of Threes: Thoughts on Thor: Ragnarok

I went and saw Thor: Ragnarok which is the third Thor film and another in the long line of Marvel Cinematic Universe films.  Overall, I really liked the film but there’s a lot to unpack with that.  I will say in advance there will probably be spoilers so be warned.

The reason why I title this post “A Story of Threes” is because there are several connections to the number three.  First, this is the third Thor film (and also interestingly the third MCU film released this year).  At the heart of the film you have the three “children” of Odin: Thor, Loki & Hela.  And what I’ll get into a little more later, this film feels like three films in one: a Thor film, a Guardians of the Galaxy film and a Hulk film.

Like its previous “third films” (Iron Man 3, Captain America: Civil War) this film is beholden to not only the previous two Thor films but the MCU as a whole.  That is both a blessing and a curse.  It is a blessing because there is so much to mine from the MCU.  It is a curse because there are times when continuity is ignored or thrown out the window (which can be helpful or hurtful given the context).  In the sense of connectivity (both within the Thor series & then in the MCU as a whole), I thought this film for the most part did a good job with just a couple of exceptions.

Here are some of the things about the film I really enjoyed:

*The action sequences.  This was probably the best fighting scenes in any Thor film and ranks right up there in any MCU film.  It was intense, it was hard hitting and it was impactful.

*The music.  I thought this was one of the best soundtracks for an MCU film.  When I saw who was the composer of the film (Mark Mothersbaugh) it made a lot of sense.  The music throughout the film was right on as well as including the Led Zeppelin song “Immigrant Song” in several key scenes.

*The performance by Anthony Hopkins as Odin.  This was probably his best work in any of the Thor films though it’s brief.  He commanded the screen and his time was meaningful.  My guess is his performance will not be as acknowledged as some others but I thought it was one of the best.

*Speaking of best performances, this was probably the best Loki in any MCU film.  Tom Hiddleston was right in that sweet spot of being mischievous and caring, between a villain and a hero.  I thought the director (Taika Waititi) did a great job in finding that perfect place for Loki and how he interacts with the universe.

*And speaking of villains, Cate Blanchett as Hela was one of the best Marvel villains (though I like when she plays a hero, she can play a great villain).  Like Hopkins as Odin, she commands the screen when she’s on there.  She was a viable threat, which is sometimes a hit or miss proposition in the MCU at times.  When she was around, she was one not to mess around with.

*Also, I thought this was the best looking Hulk they’ve done.  Granted with CGI technology ever advancing, this is to be a given.  But it really does look cool how Hulk looks now even from Avengers: Age of Ultron.  When Banner is Hulk you can see a little of Banner in the face which I thought was a really cool touch.

Now here’s what I didn’t like about the film:

*Remember when I mentioned that this film felt like a Thor film, a Guardians film & a Hulk film?  Well that’s what this film felt like.  The Thor part (because Thor is in it), a Guardians film (because they tried to drop a lot of jokes into it) and a Hulk film (because of Hulk getting a lot of screen time).  The first two Thor films were pretty jokeless.  It feels like this film tried to make up for that.  There were some good funny moments.  But this one right out of the gate felt like it was just trying to get laughs.  Like it was trying to pull jokes out instead of them coming naturally.

It also felt like half the film was a Hulk film.  It was like they decided to make a Planet Hulk film right in the middle of Thor and book ended by the Thor story.  It makes me wish we could get a solo Hulk film and really explored that storyline.  I think it also shortchanged Hela because there was a good chunk of the film she’s not there.  I really enjoyed Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster but I could’ve done with more Hela and saved the Grandmaster for another film.

*Three words: Marvel Villain Syndrome (all I’ll say is if you seen most Marvel films, you know what I mean)

*The connective tissues to the previous films was lacking in several key components.

1) The handling of Jane Foster.  It was a throwaway line that describes why she’s not around.  I don’t know if that’s on Marvel or on Natalie Portman but for a character that in the comics is so tied to the Thor storyline is non existent at this point is sad.

2) #WhereisSif.  Lady Sif is nowhere to be seen, there is no mention of her.  Nothing.  Considering the fact that Asgard is attacked by Hela.  Considering the fact that the Warriors Three all die.  No Sif.  Jane Foster gets a throwaway line of “breaking up with Thor” but Sif gets no mention at all.  Where is one of the most mighty warriors of Asgard?

3)How did Hulk get to Sakaar?  At the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Hulk is flying off in the Quinjet but how does the jet get into space? It’s not like Hulk was like “I’m going to space now”.  The comics version of how Hulk got to Sakaar would’ve maybe been better served to use than how this happened.

Like Iron Man 3 and Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok has a lot of masters to serve.  It has to serve the story in the film itself, the story of the trilogy of films of that series, and the MCU as a whole.  For it’s part, Thor: Ragnarok was a fun film in and of itself, probably the best third film in the MCU.  But between trying to be three films in one, it’s not one my favorite MCU film.  I do think that Marvel is on the right path toward Avengers: Infinity War and I can’t wait until February for Black Panther.

The 25th Anniversary Edition 1992 Version: Comic Books

It’s time once again for the Anniversary Edition. This is a series where we highlight the 25th anniversary of some of our favorite things. These include movies, TV shows, video games, comics and music that came out during the year of 1992. A lot of big things debuted or made a huge impact that year and so we will highlight some of those in this series.

We have previously looked at the year in music, video games, movies, and TV shows in 1992. We now turn to the year in comics in 1992. There were several storylines and characters that made their debut that year.

On the Marvel front, the big crossover event was Infinity War.  It was a six issue miniseries which was a sequel to the previous year’s Infinity Gauntlet.  The storyline would also be dealt with in Captain America, Daredevil, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man and other comic series.  This comic event is going to be adapted for the big screen next year in The Avengers: Infinity War.

infinity war
On the DC front, there wasn’t a big huge crossover event.  There were several characters that made their debuts but we’ll get to that in a moment.

As far as debuts are concerned, the first to address is a new publishing company.  Image Comics made its debut in 1992.  Along with that saw the debut in May of Spawn, a character created by comic book artist Todd MacFarlane, who had previously drawn Spider-Man.

There were several characters that made their debut in 1992.  For Marvel, there was the debut of James Rhodes as War Machine in Iron Man #282.  For DC there were two characters related to the Batman franchise that debuted.  Detective Renee Montoya debuted in Batman #475 in March and Azrael debuted in the miniseries Batman: Sword of Azrael in October

There are many other comics and characters that were featured in 1992. Is there an issue or character not listed that you enjoy? Leave a comment and share them here. Thanks for joining us this month during our trip down memory lane. We’ll be back next year around this time to look at the 25th anniversary of things that happened during 1993. Until then, break out the comic books and enjoy some classic reading.

My Favorite Films of 2016

Last year I shared my favorite films that were released in the past year.  I thought I’d make that a yearly tradition and so here is my list of favorite films for 2016.   They are in no particular order, just in the order that I can remember them from the beginning of the year until the end of the year:

Only Yesterday

Only Yesterday

Though Only Yesterday released originally in Japan in 1991, the English dubbed version came to North America this year.  Only Yesterday is the story of Taeko Okajima and her life in two parts.  It tells one part of her life as an 8 year old child in the late 1960s Tokyo as well as an adult in the 1980s.  It was one of the last Studio Ghibli films to be dubbed into English and includes the voicework of Daisy Ridley, Dev Patel and Ashley Eckstein.

I Saw The Light

I Saw The Light

Based on the true story of country singer and legend Hank Williams Sr., I Saw The Light tells the story of his life as a singer just before his big break to right before his tragic death.  Hank Williams is played in the film by Tom Hiddleston and Elisabeth Olsen plays Audrey Williams, Hank’s first wife.  I’m usually a fan of a good biopic and when it’s a subject like that of Hank Williams I was drawn to it.  I thought the performances in the film were done well especially that of Hiddleston and Olsen.  It is hard to act and sing especially to play an iconic figure but Hiddleston was up to the challenge in my mind.

The Legend of Tarzan


The Legend of Tarzan is a new take on an old story.  It tells the further adventures of Tarzan and how he and Jane (along with American George Washington Williams) take on some corrupt Belgians who were trying to exploit the Congo.  There are several nods to the classic Tarzan character while telling a story that resonates today.  And while most people this year will look at Margot Robbie’s other big role in 2016 (Harley Quinn), her performance as Jane Clayton is a showstealer.

The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

A remake of a classic (which in turn was a remake itself) The Magnificent Seven tells the story of a ragtag group of seven men who help to defend a mining town from a evil and corrupt businessman and his hired army.  The cast for this film included Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio among others.  I enjoyed the original The Magnificent Seven and to me this film honors that film while also telling it’s own story.

Amanda Knox


Probably the documentary of the year for me in 2016, Amanda Knox was a Netflix film that tells the story of Amanda Know, who is most well known for being found guilty and later acquitted of the death of a fellow student in Italy in 2007.  For this documentary there is lots of archive footage and interviews as well as interviews today from some of the key people including Amanda herself.

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange

Out of the two Marvel movies that released this year, Doctor Strange was my favorite of the two.  Benedict Cumberbatch did a great job as Dr. Stephen Strange.  Strange went from an arrogant doctor over the course of the movie to the Sorcerer Supreme.  It was a good origin story for a character that is not as well known in the Marvel Universe as others.  And it didn’t kill off the main villain at the end of the movie.  It is a good setup for what’s to come in Phase 3 of the MCU.



If there is a “Film of the Year” for me, I would say it’s this film.  From the first trailer to seeing it on the big screen, Arrival was interesting and compelling.  With a cast that included Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forrest Whitaker, Arrival tells the story about humankind’s interaction with an alien species and the key to communicating lies with a language professor (played by Adams) and a physicist (played by Renner).  But it’s a different take on that familiar trope.  The visuals are stunning and the story makes you think.  This is a film I’m interested in seeing multiple times because of seeing the all the puzzles pieces in place.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

An interesting film that I found on Netflix, Blue Jay is the story of two high school sweethearts that meet up some 20 years later.  Jim (played by Mark Duplass, who also wrote the screenplay for the film) returns back to his hometown to settle some affairs after his mother passed away.  He runs into Amanda (played by Sarah Paulson) at a grocery store and the two reminisce about old times.  It is a very poignant film and one that deals with heavy issues in a thought provoking way.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


Of course a list of my favorite films would have to include a Star Wars movie.  Rogue One is the first Star Wars anthology film and is set right before A New Hope.  It tells the story of how the Rebel Alliance stole the plans for the first Death Star and the group that did it.  It had one of the best battle sequences I’ve seen in a Star Wars movie and there were a lot of cool references that tied into the Star Wars universe.  Thought I still have the original trilogy in my top 3 of Star Wars films, this one is right there in the running for 4th along with The Force Awakens.

What Defines You: Thoughts on Doctor Strange

I finally went and saw Doctor Strange today.  This was a film that I had been looking forward to seeing for a long time.  I’m a fan of the Marvel films and I expected this to be another good one and I wasn’t disappointed.  It was a great film and gave me a lot to think about both as I was watching but also afterwards.

Doctor Strange

I thought I’d share some of my thoughts here (for those that haven’t seen it yet, there’s not really any spoilers here).  The film tells the story of Dr. Stephen Strange, a world famous neurosurgeon.  He is the best and he knows it.  He lives in a penthouse suite in New York City.  He has the best car, best clothes and lives the high life.  For him, his life centers around his practice of medicine.  That all changes when one night he’s in a horrific car accident and is badly injured.  His hands are so badly hurt that he is unable to do neurosurgery ever again.

At this point, Strange is lost.  The thing that he thought defined him as a person was gone.  He viewed himself as first and foremost a doctor and when that was taken away from him he didn’t know what to do.  He then goes on a journey that leads him to Katmandu, Tibet and would eventually lead him to become the Sorcerer Supreme and defend Earth against all magical and mystical threats.

That thought, that question of what defines a person is one that is something that resonates with everyone.  We all look to find what defines us individually.  For some like Stephen Strange, it is through career.  For some it is through a relationship.  For others it may be status.  Whatever it may be, there is a desire to find that thing and point to it as what defines us.  But what happens when something happens to us like what happened to Stephen Strange?  What if someone loses that job?  What if that relationship ends?  What if that thing that we thought defined us isn’t there anymore?

For me I have had to learn that ultimately what defines me is my relationship with Jesus Christ.  First and foremost I’m a follower of Jesus.  Things in my life may come and go but He is constant.  He never changes.  He is always there.  I can trust in Him through thick and thin.

Doctor Strange was a fun action comic book movie.  It was also a good movie in that it makes you think.  Anytime a film can make you think and reflect is a good thing.  And it is good to reflect on who we are and what does define us…or who defines us.

Vengeance and Luke Cage

Like most everyone this past weekend or so, I started watching the Marvel Netflix series Luke Cage.  And while I haven’t binge watched it all the way through like some (I’m still a couple of episodes from finishing), I have watched a good amount of episodes since its release.  (FYI, there maybe minor spoilers but nothing major ahead)


And while there are a lot of things to think through with this series, there is one that my mind keeps going back to.  This is due in large part to one character in the series.  That character is one of the major villains of the series by the name of Willis Stryker aka Diamondback.  Many times throughout the episodes that Stryker is on screen he is either quoting Scripture or he’s holding a Bible in his hand.

The backstory of both Stryker and Luke Cage are linked due to the fact of both of them having the same father.  That father also happened to be a preacher who had an affair with his secretary which led to the birth of Stryker.  Stryker resented Luke and the “sins of the father” would later come to terrorize both Luke and the people of Harlem.

Stryker is unfortunately a reminder that you cannot separate the story of the Old Testament with the New Testament.  Much of what Stryker quotes is Old Testament.  He seems to live by the code of ‘eye for an eye’ or even more so a perverted sense of justice.  He hasn’t really known much about the New Testament and grace.  I would imagine the Bible that he carries around Him doesn’t get opened much around the Gospels.

To translate it from the small screen to real life, I think a lot of us live with the sense of wanting vengeance.  When we are wronged, we want justice.  It is that reminder that deep down there is a true moral right and standard.  However, because we all have a sinful nature, it tends to skew it sometimes away from justice and more towards vengeance.  The Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 12:19 “never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine I will repay,’ says the Lord.”  God is the only one who can rightly judge in the end.  We are to called to forgive, even when we have been deeply wronged.

One of the hardest things in the world to do is forgive.  We see that in stories in TV shows like Luke Cage and in books and movies.  We see it in real life.  When we’re wronged, the default in being hurt is to rage and want revenge.  But like for Willis Stryker, it consumes you and you lose out on all the good that you can be.  Watching this series has reminded me of how much grace and forgiveness is needed in this world today.