Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Theme of Agency in Joss Whedon's Stories

On Saturday night I went to go see a movie.  There was only one movie that weekend everyone was looking forward to seeing.  No, it wasn't the Hunger Games,  No, it wasn't about claymated Pirates.  The movie everyone was seeing that weekend was The Avengers!  I'm going to review the movie in this sentence:  It will knock your socks off, step away from this computer, go to a movie theater, and see it.  There.  I reviewed the Avengers.  When you've seen the movie please read on, minor spoilers to follow for The Avengers, Serenity, and other Whedon works.

What I really want to talk about is the director of the Avengers, Joss Whedon.  Joss Whedon likes to write witty dialogue with powerful heroines and heroes that are also very human.  He uses a lot of common themes in his stories from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to Firefly, to Dollhouse.  A common theme he has used before is the idea of free agency versus having a perfect world.
Loki looking fashionably sinister.

In the Avengers, when we are first revealed Loki's plan, we see that Loki plans to take away everyone's ability to choose to introduce peace into the world.  (Sound familiar?)  A very similar concept was looked at in Joss Whedon's film Serenity.  (A favorite movie of mine!)  In Serenity, the heroes come to a planet called Miranda where a perfect world was attempted to be created.  The residents of Miranda breathed in a chemical meant to weed out aggression and was meant to increase peace.  The problem was that it worked.  The residents stopped fighting but then they stopped everything else--talking, breeding, eating.  They basically stopped choosing anything and let themselves die.

Loki's plan and the plan executed on Miranda really aren't all that different from Satan's plan.  Modern revelation tells us that before we came down to this earth Satan presented the plan of forcing us to do what was right and that all the glory would go to him.  There would have been no need for a savior.  We all would have just been made perfect.  It sounds like a great plan, right?  I mean I would love a free ride back to my Heavenly Father.  Why not give up my agency for that?  Here's why: Because it's impossible.

Towards the climax of the Avengers, an alien race comes through a portal to wreck havoc on the earth so they can hand it over to Loki.  Thor grabs his brother and forces him to see the destruction.  He tries to appeal to his sentimental side.  Thor says that Loki's plan wouldn't bring peace but only more chaos.
The crew of Serenity land on the planet Miranda.

It may sound like a good idea but by forsaking our agency we compromise so much more.  The inhabitants of Miranda and Loki's mind controlled goons lost their souls.  They lost who they were.  The Alliance in Serenity wanted to create a perfect world.  So did Satan.  He wanted to create a world where we would all be perfect at a terrible expense.  Thankfully, we never see what Satan's world would have looked like. In Miranda, we found something much worse then death: Reavers.  A third (I know, the similarities are kinda nuts sometimes) of the population of Miranda had the opposite effect of the chemical.  They turned to horrific madness that comprised of rape, cannibalism, and sewing human flesh into their clothing.  These innocent people became the mindless Reavers.

Thankfully, the war in heaven was won not by Satan but by our Savior.  He supported the plan our Heavenly Father authored.  He volunteered himself as a Sacrifice.  Our Heavenly Father gave us the gift of agency that we could choose freely for ourselves.  Mistakes and weaknesses are inevitable but so is the Atonement if we choose it.  Though perfection wouldn't be found in this life it would be found in the life to come.

I'm so thankful that Satan's plan didn't go through.  Maybe I would have ended up living on a cool planet or had really cool looking blue eyes with his plan.  The gift I have to choose freely for myself is so much cooler then both of those things.  I'm so glad I can choose to follow my Heavenly Father because I want to not because I'm being forced.  I love how the trials and imperfections I have only bring me closer to my eternal destiny.  


1 comment:

  1. I like that Thor also gives Loki the option to choose to help them in the end. :)