Theology of Film: Wreck-It Ralph

“I am bad, and that’s good.
I will never be good, and that’s not bad.
There’s no one I’d rather be than me.”
– Bad Guy Affirmation
“Wreck-It Ralph”

Video games have been a huge part of our culture for the better part of the past 30 years. I’ve been gaming for nearly all of those. When I first saw the trailer for “Wreck-It Ralph” I was excited by all its references to games I grew up with like Q-Bert, Mario and my personal favorite – Street Fighter 2. For the most part, “Wreck-It Ralph” is a typical animated movie that has some high points and slow spots but what does the movie teach us about spiritual truths?

Ralph is a character inside a game called Fix-It Felix Jr that has a lot of similarities to Donkey Kong. Ralph gets to be  the bad guy. For 30 years he’s been the bad guy and he’s tired of it because it is a thankless job that leaves Ralph isolated and alone. Ralph wants to be a good guy and fit in with everyone else. The movie follows his journey to go from bad guy to good guy.

One of the major themes in this movie is the story of Ralph’s past and his struggle for acceptance.

In “Wreck-It Ralph” many of the good guy characters have labeled Ralph and all video game bad guys as “bad guys” and will not trust or accept them because of their job and their past. There’s no second chance. This breaks Ralph because he doesn’t want to be bad but doesn’t know how to get over his past. He hates being so alone while everyone else gets along and enjoys being around each other.

Ralph isn’t alone in his struggle. If there’s one thing that most people wrestle with it is acceptance. We want to belong to a group or tribe and we need to be accepted by that tribe. That acceptance makes us feel as though we have value and purpose. The problem with acceptance from others is that it is often temporary and conditional. Keep doing the right things and you’ll continue to be “in”. Screw up and you’re out. It’s no different for Ralph as he begins to learn it isn’t about achieving acceptance but about becoming the right kind of person. But even still, being the right person is difficult and we’re not always good at it. Selfishness often causes us to do things that are not in the best interest of the tribe.

The beauty of faith in Christ is that our acceptance isn’t based on performance. We don’t have to get so many things right before we can be called one of God’s children. God calls us and we are accepted not because of what we’ve done but because of what Jesus has done. Unlike Ralph, our acceptance isn’t based on our performance as a “good guy” but as Jesus’ life as the perfect guy.

When God looks at those who are followers of him he doesn’t see people who need to perform to get his love – he sees people who have his love because of Jesus who’s death and resurrection covered up our “bad guyness”.

Ephesians 1.4 says “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” We get to be holy and blameless before God and that’s not a thing we earn but it is an acceptance we are given by the Great Storyteller and Creator. That’s a pretty amazing thing for all of us who have bad guy pasts!


One thought on “Theology of Film: Wreck-It Ralph

  1. movie says:

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