Review (of Sorts): Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 **spoilers**

In which Starlord loses his religion, he and the Guardians kill god, and I narrowly avoid an anxiety attack triggered by the torture of Baby Groot.

I took the kids to see Guardians of the  Galaxy, Vol. 2, for Mother’s Day. It’s one of our new traditions to go to the cinema each month. We started on Christmas Day with Sing. But for Mother’s Day I wasn’t entirely sure. GotG was really the only movie playing that we haven’t seen and looks halfway decent (the summer movie stock does not look promising). But I’m burnt out on Marvel movies. After Civil War I vowed to never watch another Avengers movie or almost anything else in the franchise…but I did have hopes for this one (and at least Ironman would not make an appearance). I was not disappointed.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Delivers everything the first one did, in spades…including (in case these things bother you) swearing, sexual innuendo, violence, end credit scenes, and Howard the Duck. Fortunately, the latter is only mere seconds, but any second of Howard the Duck is painful.

Guardians begins with a bang as we watch Baby Groot dance around while the adults battle a giant monster in the background. Babycakes was beside himself with joy. He has been in love with Baby Groot since the end of the last movie.

And here’s where the anxiety came in…

BC knows when there is a character who is “off,” a character who is like him. After watching Finding Nemo, he became Dory’s biggest fan, and there have been others. Groot, and now Baby Groot, was no different. But for me, Baby Groot more closely hit the mark. BG reminded me of BC before school and therapies helped him get to the level he’s at now. Which was cute, at first. Then it turned ugly.

If you don’t have a child with special needs it might be hard to understand that every story of torture of a kid with Autism or Down Syndrome that comes across the news wire chills us parents of such kids to the bone. That *is* our kid. We aren’t stupid. We know how the world works. Each day we put our kid on the “short bus” and send him or her into an environment that is completely out of our control and we hope that no one there takes advantage of our child’s natural kindness and trust.

That is exactly what happens in Guardians and it was difficult for me to watch. I think if I’d still been religious, I would have spiraled into complete anxiety. I know from my own personal history of abuse that God is not someone who cares to stop this sort of evil. It will sound strange to those who still believe that faith brings hope and peace, but knowing there is no God gives me hope and peace and, while watching Baby Groot being tortured was no pleasant experience, I didn’t have to work through all the religious justifications for why God allows innocents like my son to have excrement dumped on them or to be beaten and raped…all by people who pretended to be their friends. (Seriously, people, stop making excuses for the guy, it’s sickening.)

When BG chased down and exacted his revenge on one of his worst tormentors, I laughed. It was cathartic to watch since those who do evil to kids like mine in the real world will never receive what’s due them because society does not view our kids as truly human. (And that’s definitely a topic for another blog post.)

But the main point of the film is that Peter Quill finally meets his father.

I was never really interested in Guardians when I used to read comic books so I had no idea going into this what his father was…but the name “Ego” didn’t bode well.

When Peter meets his father he is at first skeptical. But as we watch what turns out to be typical emotional manipulation by Ego, Peter feels he’s finally found his place in the universe. His faith in his father is restored and things are gonna be alright.

I couldn’t help but wish it wasn’t all too good to be true. I was happy for the character in the way any of us would be for a friend who had finally found what he or she wanted.

In the end, of course, it is beyond too good to be true. As Peter gets to know his father further and gets pulled in deeper, disturbing truths are revealed about his father’s true nature and his far reaching plans for the universe. With Peter seemingly completely under his father’s spell, with literal stars in his eyes, there really isn’t a whole lot of hope. There doesn’t seem to be a way for his friends to help him see the truth.

Fortunately, all it takes is Peter learning the fact that it was his very own father who gave his mother brain cancer and killed her that breaks the spell.

And isn’t that what does it for so many of us? When we finally realize that if there is a God, and he really is all-knowing and all-powerful, then he is the one who either causes or allows the greatest of evils that happen to us and our kids and our friends, that’s when reason starts to kick in and we see religion for the sick social system it is. An abusive system that keeps people in line by using fear of punishment, either temporal or eternal.

Near the end, Ego begs Peter to save him letting Peter know the hard truth, that if Ego dies, then Peter will be “just like everyone else.” Peter comes to the conclusion that the rest of us ex-religionists can relate to: What’s so bad about that?

Peter, and the other Guardians, discover what we on the outside looking in already knew, though some of us aren’t ready to admit, that family isn’t blood, it’s who loves us.

In Christianity, blood is thicker than water. Parents are seen as god’s representatives to us. The family patriarch is seen as being specifically endowed by the creator of the universe to lead and rule over his wife and children and therefore is elevated above all else. And so this ideal of family life is pervasive in our culture, which is why Peter Quill is so desperate to relate to his father. He has been taught by our social mores early in his life that not having a father makes him less.

When the “light” goes out in Peter and he becomes mortal, those of us who have left religion and embraced Atheism will understand that though the world is literally falling apart around him and he is fairly certain he will now die, there is a sense of relief. He has brought an end to one who would destroy for his own glory.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, is by far one of the most anti-religious movie I’ve ever seen. It is not even thinly veiled and Christians are likely to be offended by more than just the language and off-color jokes. From the character of Mantis, who is essentially kept as Ego’s pet though she is fully sentient, to the obvious correlation between Ego’s emotional manipulation of Peter, akin to the emotional manipulation Christians use to draw people into their religion, this is a full assault on everything Christians hold to be holy.

In the end, the son refuses to join the father, and is able to reject becoming a forced sacrifice for the father’s will to be done.

And if that ain’t anti-Christian, I don’t know what is.

In short (haha) I found the whole film to be an enjoyable two-plus hours of ex-religionist therapy. I hope some day my kids will be able to see the same correlations I have in Christianity and come to the conclusion that people are more important than a belief system, especially a system devoted to a “creator” whom we are taught allows (or causes) evil just for his own benefit.

tenor

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