Spoiler warning: I will try to avoid significant spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but there will be a general discussion about the film and some information that was revealed before the movie opened.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 takes the aspects viewers loved from the first film and pushes them even further. The film is packed with wisecracking, playful squabbles, reckless adventures and exciting space battles in the midst of beautiful cosmic scenery.
While it is a lesser (though still extraordinarily fun) film than the original, Vol. 2 is both funnier and more emotional. It also addresses significant and deep topics (with it’s trademark wit and sarcasm).
The Guardians are forced to deal with their pasts, including the mistakes they’ve made and the relationships that are still damaged. In the midst of this depth, there are threads that connect to how modern culture views faith and salvation.
When Peter Quill’s father calls himself a “little ‘g’ god,” making Peter part human and part divine, it’s hard not to see Christological connections. We even get a stronger visual clue toward the end of the film as Quill is being sacrificed with his arms spread.
So if the film draws from the biblical message, what does the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 want to say about the gospel?
Sacrifice is needed. — Perhaps surprisingly, much of what the film says about salvation is true—aside from having a crass Christ-figure. But the deepest truth of salvation captured by the film is the need for sacrifice.
While we are continually surprised by the reality of suffering in our world and our lives, we recognize stories would not be complete without it. For greatness to be achieved, someone has to lay down their life.
More than likely, the sacrifices we must make will not be a literal death. But because of Christ’s death, we can choose to lay down our desires and dreams, fears and failures to pursue Christ and His calling.
Community is worth the effort it takes to develop. — Carrying over the theme from the first film and expanding it further and deeper, Vol. 2 definitely preaches the value of community and family.
The Guardians have been through a lot, both as individuals and as a group. They can cope with their tragic backstories and present-day losses because they have each other.
There is a reason God saves a people, not merely a person. He weaves us together with others in a church to give us people to serve and to serve alongside. As we rub against others in community, they act as sandpaper to the rough spots in our character.
Forgiveness should be available. — Yondu, the Ravagers captain who picked up Peter Quill from Earth as a boy, spends much of Vol. 2 dealing with regret of past decisions and trying to help Rocket learn from his mistakes before it’s too late. Gamora and Nebula work through the wrongs they have done each other as adopted daughters of the evil Thanos.
While some relationships remain frayed or broken at the conclusion of Vol. 2, forgiveness has been offered and accepted in numerous instances, from both main characters and smaller roles.
For the Christian, we recognize that Christ has forgiven the unforgiveable in us, so we should extend that same grace to others. Knowing that does not always make it easier, but it should give us perspective on the wrongs we believe others have done.
Our purpose does not conflict with love. — In the climax of the film, the villain explains how they had to put aside love to chase after what they felt was their purpose in life. To achieve their reason for existence, love had to be done away with.
Peter Quill and the other Guardians demonstrate the emptiness of this view. Being a group of former disparate loners, they understand the absence of love inextricably leads to loneliness. You can find purpose in and through love.
Our purpose may conflict with our comfort, but does not require our shunning of love. It is through loving God and loving others that we find our true purpose.
Your heart is infallible. — As I said, much of the Guardians of the Galaxy gospel is correct, however the film cannot help but embrace our culture’s overwhelming insistence that our heart will never led us astray.
In order to save the galaxy yet again, Peter must stop trying to think with his mind and instead feel with his heart. He has to listen to his heart, which will point him in the right direction and find his true power.
If our culture actually knew the Bible, Jeremiah 17:9 would be the most offensive and controversial verse today. It stands in opposition to the unquestioned culture mantra of “follow your heart” by pointing out just how wrong our heart can be.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is not a perfect movie, but it is a fun movie with a surprisingly gospel-affirming message.
Salvation does not come without sacrifice. The work it takes to maintain community with others is worth it. We should be willing to forgive those who wrong us. And love is not contradictory to our purpose, but at the center of it.
However, we should always be wary of the self-affirming message embraced throughout our culture. Our heart can and does lead us down the wrong path because we cannot see what lies in front of us—whether we are a intergalactic group of sarcastic heroes or average people stuck here on Earth.