This isn’t really about all of the Star War films or the Eternals. I’m going to talk about themes and storytelling. As Christians stories should be our domain. We have the greatest story ever written and yet we’re losing the young minds of today to these bloated Hollywood picture shows. There is death in the camera.
So looking at Star Wars of old versus the latest sequel trilogy got me thinking about how culture has changed. Let us look at the state of Luke Skywalker. In the original trilogy he goes on the typical hero’s journey. He was hopeful, idealistic, got humbled and recovered, and finally won out in the end. The key about his journey is that it is the Force that is aiding and guiding him. All of his trials, in the end, lead him to becoming a servant to the will of the force. Hence, he became a Jedi Knight. Jedis were individuals who gave themselves to the light side of the Force. The battles that they fought were always greater than the mere idea of life or death. The dark side, on the other hand, were people who had decided to use the Force for their own purposes, rather than submitting to its will. In the final battle in Return of the Jedi (my favorite) we see Luke and Vader fight it out. The stakes were huge and it had nothing to do lightsabers. If Luke killed Vader he would’ve lost. The real battle was whether or not Luke could fight the temptation of the dark side. In the end he held out and in the process redeemed his father.
Now when we compare this to the sequel trilogy we find a complete change in everything that was previously understood in the story. From the very first scene with Poe we find that Kylo Ren is not feared at all. There is no understanding of him being led by a higher power that he is using for his own gains. And then there’s Luke. He has come to the conclusion that the Jedi are the real problem in the universe and must end. He tells Rey that the Jedi are not the controllers of the Force. The problem with this is that no one ever claimed that the Jedi controlled the Force. They were servants of the Force. This doesn’t mean that Jedis were infallible, they made mistakes, but that isn’t a reason for them to end. The writers tried to turn the entire story on its head to fit our modern day. They flattened out the Force to make the dark and light indistinguishable. Evil is only understood as someone who is a part of an institution of some sort. The characters are not serving or using the Force anymore. It’s just a plot device to appease their own feelings and let them do what they want. In other words, it’s a man-centered story.
I recently saw The Eternals. In it they realize that they were only there to do the bidding of Arishem. A god type figure who made sure that celestials were birthed out of the core of planets which would then create new planets. The Eternals decided that they didn’t want to do that. They rejected the natural order of things (creation, death, renewal) because they started to like the humans. Ikaris and Sprite try to achieve their original mission but are defeated. At the end Sersi offers Sprite the ability to become human and grow old and die. Without thought she takes up the offer. In both of these situations we see themes emerging. First, you have the right to fight nature if you feel like doing it. Second, death is the goal of life. Sprite wants to live a fleeting life to know what it feels like to be human. She desires death. These themes are intentionally pushing the audience to accept this type of thought. We should be asking the questions: Do we have the right to buck nature? Is this life all there really is? The answers assumed in the story are yes and yes.
Now think of an older story like Lord of the Rings. In Return of the King Pippin is scared of death and Gandalf comforts him. Telling him that death is only another path (I know it’s not in the books). Other forces were at play in the story and that’s what made it gripping and gave those in it hope. We are living in a nihilistic death culture. There is no hope or joy. The transcendent world has been flattened out and our reality is completely warped.
As Christians we have a remedy for this. The Bible is the greatest story ever written. Angels and demons are at war as we speak and we have been placed in the battle. Christ as the risen God-man has ascended above every power and principality. We are fighting against forces in spiritual places. Yet, we act as if the battle is here with politicians and actors and even our own neighbors. We need to act as if we believe in what the Bible tells us. We have stopped teaching the great stories of scripture and give empty platitudes to the masses. In Psalm 78 the writer tells us to teach our children the law of God by telling them of the wonders that He has performed. The commands of scripture are inextricably linked to the stories told. As Christians if we want to have a greater impact on our culture we must take back the storytelling element in it. The world is hard at work putting across her values. We must get to it.