Loki, Hulk, and Temptation.
The interactions between Loki and Hulk have been some of the great gems of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While they have been short (like this chapter), they have been meaningful and memorable (hopefully like this chapter). Loki has intentionally represented a lot of things in the various stories he's been involved in and has been a character many have connected with overall. For me something, came full circle as I sat in the theatre watching Thor: Ragnarok, and I'll explain more as the essay goes on. But for me, Loki and Hulk's relationship in a lot of way shows a great parallel of a believer facing temptation, especially through the New Testament.
In the original Avengers film. One of the best scenes in the movie is when the Avengers are finally closing in on Loki. Black Widow causes him to chase her, Hawkeye shoots him down with an exploding arrow, and he conveniently crashes into Avengers tower. Hulk then smashes him through the window. As Hulk begins charging towards Loki, the son of Odin doesn't run or flee or even use his powers. He just stands there thinking he is too good to be brought down by the big green behemoth. Loki screams out, "Enough! You are all of you are beneath me! I am a god, you dull creature, and I will not be bullied by..." ...and then Hulk proceeds to smash Loki into the ground repeatedly, leaving him whimpering in the indention of the floor.
Loki laid there beaten and destroyed because he thought he was big enough to face the attack that he saw coming his way, an attack that he actually brought upon himself by the choices he made.
This is us when we face temptation. It starts with a desire for something. We then make bad choices, and even though we have the opportunity to walk away, we don’t. That’s when we end up decimated in the aftermath of our actions.
"But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." - James 1:14-15.
"So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." - 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.
I've ended up in the same position Loki was in more times than I desire to admit. These are times when I wanted something I shouldn't have, pursued things I had no business pursuing, found myself at a crossroads with a clear exit, and still chose the things I knew would destroy me. My struggles with sin and
temptation often look Dr. Strange Vs. Dormammu: the same song and dance battle happening over and over again in a habitual loop of failures. We keep repeating the same patterns and choices over and over hoping things will be different, but like with Dormammu and Strange, it's not until change occurs that the cycle Is broken.
Anyway, I'm rabbit trailing on the wrong mystical marvel. Back to Loki. Loki's choices and pride lead him to the place where he was decimated by the Hulk, just like our choices and pride. When these moments happen, they can either be a lesson we learn from or just another step in our repeated pattern of failure.
Between Avengers and Ragnarok, Loki goes through a lot. He has his share of failures, small victories, humiliations, and growth. He still makes horrible life choices, but he's not the same demi-god that got pummeled by Hulk. So, my aforementioned favorite part of Ragnarok is when Thor is in the Grandmaster's arena and Hulk is revealed. Loki sees the object of his past downfall and his response is completely different than before. He doesn't feel bold or like he's untouchable. He doesn't feel like this is nothing to be concerned with. I don't even really believe it's fear, but rather a healthy respect and understanding that this situation is serious, and not one he wants to willingly put himself into. He sees Hulk and his immediate response is, "I have to get off this planet." Loki sees the thing that can bring his downfall. Thor even antagonizes the situation by saying, "Loki's alive, can you believe it? He's up there! Loki, look who it is!”
Sadly, people may often cheer you on towards the things that hurt us, but Loki didn't bite. He doesn't rattle on a speech about his status or pride. He realizes this is something that is dangerous and not worth the fight and he decides to bounce. You may look at this as cowardly, but in reality, this is some of the same instruction we are given in scripture when we are faced with temptation.
"Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." - 2 Timothy 2:22.
"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body." - 1 Corinthians 6:18.
"Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry." - 1 Corinthians 10:14.
"But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness." - 1 Timothy 6:11.
When we know that things are prone to bring us unwanted temptation, and that there are things that have defeated us in the past and aren't worth the risk, you aren't being afraid in running from them. That’s being wise. The fact that Loki saw Hulk and recognized the threat shows growth. When we see things that are a threat to us and recognize it, that's growth, too. Far too often we run towards the things that bring us our own destruction rather than running from them. Have you ever been around gunfire? I was riding my bike at night once and happened to ride by a shooting, and I heard the terrifying sound of 5 shots ringing through the night in rapid succession. I called 911 and pedaled harder than I ever had in my life. It wasn't cowardice; it was that I was recognizing a danger. There was something that could destroy me. It was a situation I had no obligation to participate in, so I fled.
I love the fact that the Bible uses the term flee. It doesn't simply say turn away from. It doesn't say look the other way. It says flee. Run for your flipping life! Loki learned this lesson, and I hope that we can as well.
We also need to make an effort to watch out for others when they are caught up in the same sins, temptations, and struggles that we are. So often, we see people heading into the same dangerous paths we are, and we just sit back and watch them get taken down. Obviously in the case of Loki, there was nothing he could have done to intervene in the fight between Thor and Hulk, but he did have the completely wrong attitude. When Thor underestimated Hulk, he too got the "puny god" treatment. Hulk grabbed Thor by the ankles and smashed him into the ground over and over. Loki, elated with satisfaction, leapt to his feet and screamed "YES! That's how it feels!" This is obviously not the attitude we need to possess when we see our brothers and sisters struggling with things that have taken us down. James and Paul paint a better picture.
"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." - Galatians 6:1-2.
"My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins." - James 5:19-20.
Temptation and sin are a Hulk of a problem. Don't underestimate them. If you've been taken down before, don't let it take you down again. When you see them, run. When you see other people in the same position, help. If you aren't able to help in the time of their struggle, help restore them after they have fallen.