By Anthony Casperson
Attempts to forget family secrets of the past lead to death, destruction, and the end of the world. No, I’m not talking about what happened at Thanksgiving dinner. It’s the setup for the Marvel film Thor: Ragnarok.
(Major spoilers for the film follow. However, it’s been a few weeks since the movie came out, so I don’t feel bad about that.)
There are several instances of secrets and the forgotten leading to negative consequences in the film. None the least of these is the Loki’s secret that he had been impersonating Odin. Odin had been slowly dying and his death releases Hela, goddess of death, Odin’s daughter. (Though in both Norse mythology and the original comics Hel/Hela is the daughter of Loki, which seems to be paid homage based off of the fact that Hela is portrayed with very Loki-esque black hair and a penchant for black leather with green motifs. Not to mention the horny helmet.)
Odin’s secret daughter Hela is another of these secrets. And in this case, a secret leading to death is a very literal thing. She becomes the Big Bad for the film. And it’s shown that, previous to her incarceration, had been used greatly by Odin for his very violent acquisition of the nine realms. Another thing that had been kept secret by Odin.
Eventually, Thor is lost on Sakaar, a planet of the forgotten. The introduction tour pretty much says that to Thor. And the first forgotten, the Grandmaster, leads the planet. While on the planet, Thor has to fight his once ally, The Hulk.
Hulk himself has been trying to forget the Banner side of him, which has left him stranded on this planet as a gladiator. And when Bruce Banner is brought back out of Hulk, he wants to forget the Hulk and never bring him out. And this, again lead to an inability to escape the planet of the forgotten.
Also found on this planet is Valkyrie, a once-warrior of Asgard who was the sole survivor of the previous attempt to stop Hela. She’s trying to forget the past by running from it and by drinking…a LOT. Her previous power forgotten along with the past.
There are quite a few more instances of forgetting and secrets leading to negative consequences, but I think I’ve made my point that this idea is one of the driving themes of the film. However, there is more to the theme. And it’s that only by facing the secret, by dealing with the forgotten, can death be turned to life.
Literally, in the case of dealing with Hela, is Thor able to overcome death by facing the truth of his father’s past. And only by driving headlong into the titular Ragnarok (which Thor’s been trying to stop) is life possible for his people.
And it even follows into the other secrets of the film. The fellow forgotten on Sakaar face the Grandmaster to gain their freedom. Banner and the Hulk have to work together (again) in order to help. And Valkyrie has to face her demons to once again be the protector of Asgard that she once had been.
So, attempting to forget secrets lead to death and destruction, but facing these issues is the only way to come to life. Sounds almost biblical.
When I was watching the film, thoughts about sin and depression and the depths came to my head. The power of these dark things comes in secrecy. When we try to stuff them down, when we try to forget them, when we try to keep them in the dark corners of our lives, they grow in power. And they seek to destroy us.
Death, literal or figurative, comes when the secret gains power. Not dealing with our sin issues can lead to us diving deeper into the depravity of sin. Not to mention that without the sacrifice of Jesus, our sin forever separates us from God. And for some, when the secret comes to light, it can be detrimental to our family, service to God, and reputation.
Not opening up about our depression and anxiety can cause us to feel alone, and separate us from others. It can lead to suicide or other personally detrimental things like cutting or drugs or self-destructive behaviors.
We become less than what God made us to be when the darkness is allowed to run rampant because we don’t want to face it, or we fear facing it. But the abundant life that God wants to give to us can only come if we deal with these secrets, if we bring them to light.
So, I want to challenge all of us to bring the secrets to light. Find a trusted friend or advisor and let them in on the secret. Shine some light onto it and diminish its power. Whatever the secret is, whether a sinful habit that no one else knows about, or feelings of depression, or anxiety, or any other dealing with the depths, build a team to fight the enemy that wants to kill you.
The options are only fight it or die. The death might be slow if we try to forget it, but death will still come if we refuse to face it and fight. Fight the darkness and live.