My Brother’s Keeper: The Bible & Marvel Studios on Neighborly Love
How Black Panther's post-credits scene captures the Christian ethic of being my "brother's keeper," and what the Bible says about war and oppression.
Marvel is famous for their post-credits scenes. Sometimes they foreshadow a new character or key events. Other times they offer an added dash of humor.
In the case of Marvel’s Black Panther, though, the post-credits scene is heartfelt and dripping with Biblical insight. King T’Challa addresses the United Nations, offering an inspiring speech on being “brothers and sisters” and “one tribe.” You can see the scene here:
My son is finally old enough to watch movies like Marvel’s Black Panther. They explore complex themes and characters who walk the line between good and evil. This film has sparked some good conversations about race and what it means to be a good leader.
As we watched the movie together, I hadn't expected the post-credits scene to hit me the way it did this time around. With the possibility of Russia invading Ukraine, the fear of war looms over our world. Though Christ warned of “wars and rumors of wars” (see Mathew 24), we know He is also the Prince of Peace. In God’s Kingdom, spears and weapons of war will be shattered and transformed into tools for building up rather than tearing down. We live in this tension between what-we-know-now and what-will-be.
And it was one line which struck me this time. As King T’Challa concludes his main points, he leans toward the crowd and says, “We must find a way to look after one another.”
Though Marvel tries its best to be agnostic towards faith, it’s impossible to untether the Christian faith from the lives of Black Americans. When T’Challa says we must “look after one another,” he is alluding to Cain’s infamous line: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Here is the scene in full:
Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?” And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground.”
Genesis 4:8-10 (ESV)
Cain was jealous of his brother. Abel’s heart was clean before God, and the quality of his life and sacrifice showed that. And before the moment of Abel’s murder, God warns Cain to flee from sin and to control his jealousy and anger since it will lead to death.
After Cain murders Abel, God asks where his brother is. Of course, God knows what has happened. Like the Garden scene where God asks Adam and Eve where they are, God is testing another human heart here. And Cain’s response is so revealing: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” It sounds sarcastic and bitter. Of course he should look after his brother — his own flesh and blood.
“We must find a way to look after one another.”
- King T’Challa, from Marvel’s Black Panther
God also displays his heart in this scene towards war and violence: “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” The Bible often describes God as the protector of the powerless. God made all of humanity, each race and ethnic group, in His image. To devalue any life, to injure someone, to invade and to destroy...it causes the blood of the innocent to cry out to God.
And therein is our human condition. From the beginning we have skirted our responsibility to look after one another. But, as Christians, we are called to a higher moral plane. We are called to sacrifice for each and put others’ needs ahead of our own (Philippians 2).
So, as we stare at the possibility of war and the sins of racial inequality in our own country, we must aim to please God’s heart and to be each others’ keepers. As Christ poured out His life for us, so we too should love our neighbor.
"...as Christians, we are called to a higher moral plane."
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