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Praying with Marvel Movies

Praying with Marvel Movies

On August 28th, we lost a beloved actor who inspired a generation.


Chadwick Boseman took on the role of T’Challa in Black Panther knowing what it would mean. He spoke of having prayed about the role. He was entirely invested in the film – for the character, for himself, and for the world. And it shows.


Black Panther is a film with heart and soul, and Chadwick Boseman’s performance is so rich that it offers audiences food not only for thought, but also for prayer.


Yes, Black Panther is a movie you can pray with—a legacy worthy of Chadwick Boseman.


Marvel has a history of making movies with scenes that pack a punch. We do these films a disservice if we walk away from our screens without considering those powerful moments and really contemplating them, allowing ourselves to listen to what truth they have to tell us.


Praying with a film can sound like some ultra-holier-than-thou, complicated thing to do, but it’s actually not. It’s something accessible to everyone, no matter where you’re at in life, and is as simple as pondering a scene that touched you in the light of a Scripture verse or story that you know. Doing this doesn’t just deepen your experience and enjoyment of the movie itself, it can transform your understanding of your own life. Stories and prayer have the power to do that when we approach them with an open heart.


Walking with Marvel, here are three simple examples of scenes that touched my Sisters and me personally. These are three scenes of many that could inspire prayer in us.  What would your top three powerful Marvel scenes be? Upon further reflection, what do you feel the Lord is laying on your heart and reminding you of through them?


  1. Black Panther

Black Panther © 2018 Marvel Studios. All rights reserved. 


At the top of this list is a very special scene from my personal favourite Marvel movie. I share it with special tenderness in the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s passing and ask that you keep in prayer his family, friends, and the fans whose lives he profoundly touched, and that he himself may rest in peace and joy in the arms of our Father.


The Scene: T’Challa, practically dead, enters the ancestral plane for the second time, with the possibility of rejoining his ancestors for good, but he refuses to stay and lets the attitudes and hurts of the past continue to reign. He demands to return to right the wrongs Wakandan leadership have inflicted by turning their backs on the world for the sake of self-preservation.


This is a powerful scene. T’Challa faces his father, whom he loves and honours, and sees him in a new light with the knowledge of his father’s mistakes. T’Challa understands the motivation for keeping Wakanda closed, for not reaching out to others, for not saving Killmonger as a child. He understands the desire to stay closed for self-preservation, to safeguard the people he loves. But he has also grown to recognize the interconnectedness and value of all people, and he realizes that by closing Wakanda to the world they have betrayed themselves. They have diminished their own valour, their own goodness, and their own identity as those who do what is right. He stands before the ancestors he loves and honours to break with the legacy of their mistakes, not their goodness.


T’Challa: “You are wrong. All of you are wrong. To turn your backs on the rest of the world. We let…fear…stop us from doing what is right. No more.” (Black Panther, 2018)

T’Challa meets his father in the ancestral plane, Black Panther © 2018 Marvel Studios. All rights reserved. 


T’Challa’s recognition of how fear was controlling Wakanda’s sharing of goodness with the world reminded me of one of the most iconic lines of the nativity story:

“Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people…” Luke 2:10, NRSV.


Goodness is not meant to be hoarded – it is meant to be shared. Goodness is for all people and T’Challa, with the wisdom he gained from entering into the story of an outsider, began to understand how the failure to share one’s goodness or gift could affect both the world and oneself. He began to understand how he was being called to share the goodness and the gift that he and his people had in a way that would build others up. He began to understand what part of his ancestors’ legacy he must uphold and what part he must heal.  


This is something that we must all face and grapple with within our families, our communities, and ourselves. What is the good gift that God has given me to share? And how is fear holding me back in how I share it? How can I stand up to my legacy of brokenness or fear and shatter its chains to give goodness to the people around me today?


“Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10, NRSV


  1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier © 2014 Marvel Studios. All rights reserved. 


The initial exchange between Steve and Bucky is heart wrenching. Steve finally recognizes this formidable enemy as his best friend.  He calls his name… but Bucky has been so abused, manipulated, and lied to that he doesn’t recognize it anymore.

Steve: “Bucky?”

Bucky: “Who the hell is Bucky?”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier © 2014 Marvel Studios. All rights reserved. 


The Scene: Bucky is coming after Steve. Steve throws down his shield, refusing to fight or kill this friend he treasures, and Bucky jumps on the chance to finish his mission to destroy Captain America. But just as he’s about to throw a final crippling punch, Steve repeats to him an old line the two of them shared as a promise long ago. Bucky stops, frozen. And when Steve falls from their fighting-ground into the water, Bucky pulls him out and saves him.

Steve: “I’m not gonna fight you. You’re my friend.”

Bucky: “You’re my mission.”

Steve: “Then finish it. Cuz I’m with you to the end of the line.” (The Winter Soldier, 2014)


Captain America: The Winter Soldier © 2014 Marvel Studios. All rights reserved. 


This scene is the culmination of a long road for both Bucky and Steve. But beyond that, it’s an incredibly moving illustration of what it means for us to be known and called by name, even when we do not know ourselves. Bucky has been beaten down into living a lie – he loses his name and he loses his identity. Steve has not lost either of those things. Steve calls him back, not with weapons or reasoning or convincing, but with the truth of his name and the sincerity of his love for his friend. He proves this love to the full when he lays down his shield, sacrificing his body for the sake of reclaiming the identity of his friend. As he claimed Bucky’s identity as his friend, used his name, and stayed calm in the midst of his friend’s anger and panic, God’s words in Isaiah came to my mind:


“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1


This is what Christ does for us. Many of us have found ourselves in Bucky’s shoes: caving to manipulation or weakness, pride or fear, a slave to something we hate and unable to see or accept the truth of who we really are. Christ, instead, calls us by name, back to the truth of who we are in him. He lays down his life to call us to himself, to prove his love, and to defeat the shadow of deceit and of death with his truth and his life.


After Bucky pulls Steve from the water, he traverses the long road to healing and self-discovery, reflective of our first encounter with the saving love of Christ. It is one we walk with deep gratitude and humble joy because we discover the one who loves us best and, in doing so, discover ourselves. Where am I in relation to my Friend these days? Am I fighting him and denying who I am? Or am I somewhere on the journey to fuller relationship and self-discovery? How can I begin or enter more deeply into this journey today?


“I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15


  1. Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame © 2019 Marvel Studios. All rights reserved. 


Thanos: “I am inevitable.

Tony: “And I am Ironman.” (Infinity War, 2018).


It’s the moment.


The Scene: Thanos raises his hand for that glorious, triumphant finger snap that will enforce his own will upon the universe and crush the pesky Avengers who have been giving everything to stop him. He claims his victory and snaps. And nothing happens. Then we see Tony, the stones configuring themselves on his hand as he looks Thanos dead in the eye. Staring Thanos down, he claims his identity and snaps. The universe is saved. And Tony dies.


Tony Stark sacrifices himself to save the world in Avengers: Endgame © 2019 Marvel Studios. All rights reserved. 


Tony Stark was far from a perfect character, and he had to learn to open his heart to people. It seemed like he worked on that in every single movie with different characters.  But in this climax, he knew what he had to do and he let love win out over fear. He claimed his identity boldly before his enemy and sacrificed his life for the ones he loved. In the end, Tony knew who he was, and he knew who he was meant to be. He knew he was meant to be both a protector of the earth and a father to his daughter. And, in his final act, he fulfilled both facets of who he was completely.


“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13


Tony Stark dies in Avengers: Endgame © 2019 Marvel Studios. All rights reserved. 


None of us love perfectly. But we are called to. We are called to allow Christ, who is Love himself, to live and love in us. The journey to this is a long one. There are times in our lives when we really do lend ourselves to this love and allow Christ to love in us. For Tony, it was the moment he decided to give the most selfless gift of personal sacrifice in laying down his life for the universe. We might not ever face down Thanos for the fate of the galaxy, but we have many daily battles when we are faced with opportunities to love selflessly and to give generously of ourselves. Christ laid down his life for each of us out of love. 

What are the circumstances in my life right now where I have the opportunity to love more selflessly? When are times that I could stop holding back and give or love more generously? How can I allow Christ to love in and through me in a deeper way today?


“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10.


As this year carries on in all its uncertainties we are not left to wander without God’s voice of promise and encouragement. Sometimes we hear it in a Marvel movie. So, whether you are going back to watch clips of your favourite Marvel movies for fun, catching up on missed films in the franchise as a personal self-care treat, or returning to Black Panther to honour Chadwick Boseman, watch with an open heart. Listen. See what God is speaking to you in his Truth today.


If you think that facilitating a group prayer with a Marvel movie would be enriching to your friends, family, or ministry, feel free to reference our movie prayer guides

Marvel movies can be rented through Youtube or streamed on Disney+.  





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