MCU Monday (On Tuesday! Getting Closer): Thor - Those Who Would Be Sons
Although many credit CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINDER SOLDIER or GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY with being the first Marvel movies that tried to be more than “just” a superhero film, THOR preempted them both by being a Shakespearean drama in superhero clothing. Thor and Loki, sons of Odin, are the primary protagonist and antagonist, respectfully, and in their struggle we also find a close parallel of the struggle many people face when trying to relate to God, the ultimate Good Father.
For much of the film, Thor is an arrogant brat, the perfect, reprehensible mixture of good looks, charm, talent, and unbridled, arrogant ambition. He is the favored son, the one who will follow his father to the throne, and he finds room for misconduct in the security of this fact. No matter what he does he will always be the son of Odin.
There are parallels here, obvious ones, to the way in which many of the stereotypical “Bible-belt Christians” carry themselves in relation to God. An abundance of poor behavior and poorer attitudes are licensed by the security of the “once saved, always saved” stamp affixed to their baptismal certificate from many years ago. A walk was taken, a decision was made, a prayer said, and then a short dip in a glorified bath-tub sealed the deal. Like Thor, they find room for their unrighteousness in their self-centered understanding of the Father’s true righteousness.
Loki is the inverse of Thor, having never felt truly secure as a son of Odin. Because his father so often turns a blind eye to Thor’s recklessness, Loki scrambles to attain love and approval by merit as a counter to Thor’s apparent entitlement of that same security. While it is obvious through the film that Odin does love and accept Loki as a son, Loki himself is unable (or unwilling) to rest in that reality and instead conjures-up devious and complex schemes by which to earn what Thor apparently cannot lose.
There is also, unsurprisingly, a crowd of those who would be sons of God who approach the relationship with the Father much in the same way as does Loki; that is, as a task to be achieved rather than a reality in which to exist. They live in fear of their Father’s disapproval rather than in appreciation of his approval and love. Unable, or unwilling, to see the great love by which He has loved us, they fritter their lives away attempting the impossible; attempting to earn what God has already offered. They ignore the open hand in favor of the unreachable standard.
Neither view is right, of course, God is neither the unpleasable figure in Loki’s mind nor the doting patriarch in Thor’s; He is something altogether greater and better. He is the one who loved unconditionally those who were altogether unlovable and fashions from them, at his own expense, son of whom He then unfailingly approves. These sons, these new creations, then live in a space and on a plane the likes of which neither Thor, in his arrogance, nor Loki, in his fear, could ever hope to reach. They live in peace that is the paradox of being completely without merit and yet without ever lacking in their Father’s approval.