Consider poor Vision.
Shining from his synthetic forehead is the final Infinity Stone that Thanos needs to complete the set. The mad Titan’s glove awaits this final accessory and he will attain the powers of God. Not a god, but capital-G God.
In a last ditch effort to thwart this fate, Vision’s love-interest, the Scarlet Witch, must destroy the stone where it rests, killing Vision along the way. She does so, and mourns over the body of her beloved. Thanos, however, is already 5/6 God and simply reverses time to the moments before Visions first death. He then rips the stone out himself, reuniting all the stones and killing Vision a second time.
Marvel’s latest film will be dissected in excruciating detail over the next few weeks, so I will be focused and brief here.
Thanos indeed becomes God for all intents and purposes. He has complete creative control over the universe, able to bend and reform reality, travel through space and time, and do whatever else those other stones allow him to do (I’d love some clarity on that, actually). In other words, he is a being who is able to right the wrongs of the universe as he sees fit. And I wonder if his solution (basically erase half of all living beings in the universe to make more room for the other half) isn’t precisely what all of us would do with such power.
Isn’t any material solution to the question of theodicy ultimately choosing a side to save? Granted, almost nobody would have the other half turn to literal dust, but we’re talking metaphor here, right? In this way, Thanos provides an interesting image of a secular God. A being with all of the Creator’s power, but none of the Grace.
A pretty well-accepted tenet of Christianity is the idea of the resurrection (there are of course debates about bodily vs. spiritual etc..but that’s for another podcast). Vision is indeed resurrected, right in line with Orthodox beliefs about God’s grace and redemption. Unfortunately for him, his resurrection is at the hands of an all-too-human God, and leads only to a second death. There is no redemption for him, only for the half-Creation that Thanos wishes to save. There is no salvation for all.
Loki then, in his dying words, was right about Thanos. Though he may attain God’s power, he will never be a God.
The Sectarian Review Podcast is hosted by Danny Anderson, who is an Assistant Professor of English at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson, PA.