The Avengers’ “I AM”: a Vision of Jesus?

[This post contains mild spoilers.]

I suppose when you’re dealing with apocalyptic themes, it’s hard to get away from the Bible, but I was surprised by the amount of biblical language that showed up in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Joss Whedon sprinkled biblical allusions throughout the movie, and he put most of those allusions in the mouth of Ultron. Ultron is an evil artificial intelligence with a god complex, so it isn’t surprising when he starts quoting the Bible.

But one particular biblical reference perplexed me as I watched the movie. When the Avengers asked the Vision who he was, he answered, “I am I am.”

This line immediately reminded me of the book of Exodus. Moses sees a burning bush in the wilderness, and the bush speaks to Moses, telling him to free the Hebrews from the Egyptians. Moses is dubious that the Hebrews will listen to him, so he asks the voice in the fiery bush what his name is. The voice in the bush replies, “I am who I am.”

Watching the movie, I experienced some cognitive dissonance when the Vision announced that he was “I am.” How could this allusion make sense? I expected Ultron to claim divinity, asserting that his ubiquitous digital consciousness gave him godlike status, but it didn’t sound right coming out of the mouth of the Vision. The Vision’s moment didn’t seem to fit with the burning-bush narrative.

Call me a little slow, but weeks later it dawned on me what was going on here. The voice in the burning bush isn’t the only time in which someone claims to be “I am.” Numerous times in the Gospel of John, Jesus makes “I am” statements. Some of these are a bit ambiguous in English because our translations tend to add a “he” after each one, but a Greek reader familiar with the Old Testament would have picked up on the allusion. John has Jesus claim to be divine, a claim which would have unsettled his reader, just as I was unsettled by the Vision’s pronouncement. Wasn’t Jesus a good guy? Why would he claim to be the same God who spoke in the burning bush?

Back to the Vision. Interpreting the Vision’s moment as an allusion to Jesus rather than an allusion to the burning bush makes much more sense. First, the Vision’s birth is miraculous, and so was Jesus’. The android’s activation doesn’t go according to Stark’s plan, and the godlike power of Thor had to quicken the Vision as he lay in the womb. It’s an unnatural, divine birth. After his birth, the Avengers ask him whose side he’s on. He responds that he is on the side of life. This somewhat mysterious answer sounds an awful lot like the ambiguous answers Jesus gave when questioned. At the end of the movie, the Vision talks about grace. He sees his mission to save and protect people.

If the Vision is meant to be the new Christ-figure of the Avengers franchise, this opens up some interesting possibilities for the next installment. The big bad guy of Avengers: Infinity War will be Thanos, who’s already made a couple of cameos. Thanos is the personification of death, and he is one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel universe. He’ll be wanting to get his hands on all six infinity stones, one of which is stuck in the Vision’s forehead.

My prognostication is that the Vision will die in his battle with Thanos but that somehow that death will prove to be Thanos’s undoing. The death of the Christ-like Vision will conquer death personified by Thanos. Life will win in the end, and the Vision will be resurrected. Of course we’ve still got six Marvel films before we get to the Infinity War, so who knows what twists and turns a dozen writers and directors might take us down.

It seems to me that Hollywood just might be retelling the greatest story ever told again.

12 thoughts on “The Avengers’ “I AM”: a Vision of Jesus?

  1. “After his birth, the Avengers ask him whose side he’s on. He responds that he is on the side of life.” Could this possibly be an allusion to Joshua 5:13-15?

  2. You are correct. Vision was not god. Tony stark aka iron man was father I.e,god. Ultron was gods first child that rebelled and instead of saving,human life using control power and guidance he chose death. Vision is now the son of the son but he did not accept or identify with that father. Then tony said we,changed things so the son of the son rebelled against his father and side with the grandfather. Vision said he is I am and for life. He will destroy death and fight evil,but,he will not destroy man. Very similar,to legion except that person is Michael who comes,to protect the son Jesus when the father gives up hope. In other words the father believes its over but through the sin,regains,hope. Also Thor is a god and only vision,could lift the hammer as the chosen one

    1. Ah Rant Trini, your analogy is amazing ineed to watch the movie again because i was really wondering the relationship between prohecy of Daniel and The Avengers.

      Thank you.

  3. The gospel story is one of sacrifice to save mankind. It is ingrained into our DNA by a creator. It is only natural it would show up creatively in our art. It is in countless movies. It’s just shy of the truth. Symbolically relevant. It is a fantasy to place the attributes of God into something man himself creates. The ultimate no no. To create a god.

  4. I think that there is more context to this. Just before Vision says ‘I am, I am’, there is a scene with him looking out at the city, through the window.
    When he says ‘I am’, he hesitates for a second, then again says ‘I am’. I thin that he is recognising here a recognition of the illusory nature of ‘self’. He isn’t someone or something, he simply ‘is’.
    I arrived at this interpretation more because of the aforementioned scene, of him looking outside, and then at his reflection.
    As ‘chance’ would have it, I just so happened to be reading ‘Waking Up’ by Sam Harris at lunch today. On a chapter about meditation, Sam goes into a great analogy for recognising that self does not exist and how difficult it is to point out to someone who has not yet come to this realisation.

    The analogy is of someone looking out a window. You want to show that person a reflection of their face, but they are just too distracted by what is going on outside to even fathom that there is an ‘outside’. To the distracted person, outside is all there is, much like the illusion that ‘self’ is all there is. All the distracted person has to do is focus in a little closer and they will see that their reflection was there the entire time. But until they do so for the first time, they will search in every place in existence (outside) for that reflection.

    The fact that this scene happens just before Vision says ‘I am, I am’, leads me to believe that this is what he is talking about.

    Perhaps Jesus alluded to something similar.

  5. Hollywood gets tons of it’s ideas from the Bible… Originality is only what you know or have seen before. You mentioned God in the bush as a bad guy, this could not be further from the truth. The Bible is about, showing you the problem. Adam ate from the tree of good and evil. so good impimented the law, in the first covenant. Evil only comes from man and saten. The answer to the problem is the second covenant…

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