Finding Truth in Media: Iron Man

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I saw Iron Man for the first time a few months ago. I like superhero movies; my favorite ones exemplify a desire to do what is right no matter what the cost, to help those who can’t help themselves, and to show some sort of growth toward goodness and a sense of humble sufficiency in the job of wiping out evil. I like the reluctant messiah, pushed into the job by bad circumstance and revelation of the desperate need of others.

Tony Stark, weapons genius, gets that revelation and has a change of heart. A harrowing encounter with terrorists who have acquired a stockpile of his weapons is his catalyst. As he sees the harm they’re inflicting on innocent people with his own Stark Industries weapons, his entire focus changes from being a self-getter to being a self-giver. During his experience his physical heart is damaged and he builds a small reactor that fits inside his chest wall to power it – a fitting symbol.

With his new identity as a self-giver he begins to dream up a way he can undo some of the damage his weapons were doing. He builds a titanium suit, powered by that reactor in his chest. The suit is nearly invincible. He can fly, shoot missiles, and has a heads-up display in his helmet that can target the bad guys and spare the innocent.

This movie has given me a visual in my relationship with Christ that has lasted for months. After seeing it I realized that for years my focus has been too hard on one side of a paradox. I had a revelation 15 years ago. Christ is in me as my life, my power source, my new heart. That’s amazing, wonderful. It has revolutionized my life. But how would Tony Stark fare against the bad guys with just the reactor in his chest and no titanium armor?

There have been many times where I’ve been knocked down, even though I know Christ lives in me. That Fact is what has always given me power to get up again. But I realized, partly through Iron Man, that I was not always putting on my titanium suit. I had over-emphasized Christ in me to the exclusion of me in Christ. He is my rock fortress, my hiding place, my shield and buckler, as King David said. Christ is the armor that we must put on – we must hide ourselves in Him, and in that we truly become Iron Men.

I now know I’ve got a titanium suit that has a divine tracking system to target evil (the demonic) and spare the innocent (people), weaponry (the Word, faith, prayer) that can take care of any situation I’m in. This is an invincible suit of armor I own. All I’ve got to do is put it on every day and make sure the power is on. “Having done all, to stand.” The freedom I’ve experienced since I’ve learned this is priceless.

One more thing: Stark puts the suit on by surrendering; he lifts his arms and offers his body as a living sacrifice, and the computer-driven machine puts the suit on his body.

Iron Man stimulates me to think, to reason, to feel, to act. That’s one testimony to the power of story.

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he’s not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin’ on audiences around the world, he’s taking care of his donkey named “Trash” and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


11 Comments

  1. Peter B

    Ron, this is one of the best films I’ve seen in recent years, but your TheoloVision makes it even better. Will we have a follow-up series about putting on the gold-titanium suit of Christ?

  2. Tony Heringer

    Ron,

    Thanks for answering the question my son had the other day — i.e. “Is Iron Man really made of iron?” We wondered was he originally in an iron suit or is this just Marvel’s swipe at DC’s “Man of Steel”? I love the light in his chest – that symbol comes up throughout the movie.

    Your post reminded me of this verse: “To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” Colossians 1:29

  3. Seth Ward

    LOVE it. I think it’s my favorite superhero film since the original Superman. About that… I always *marvel* that a couple of Jewish guys came up with the story of a man sending his only son earth to help them find their way.

  4. jeremy

    ron, did you know that they are about to release an iron man 2. the trailer is quite intriguing (i don’t know if an “official one” has been released yet, but i saw a comic-con version). basically, what does iron man do know that the world knows he is the one who wears the suit? i think it will be interesting to see, and likewise to see it with ‘eyes of truth.’ thanks! jb

  5. Jud

    Ron, that’s a pretty neat illustration. You’re got a real knack at finding truth in the most interesting of places.

    P.S. A few days ago I saw you in “Elmo’s Country Jamboree”. It made me giggle a little bit seeing you in that setting given your standing here at the Rabbit Room.

  6. Aaron Roughton

    I love this movie, and the post. Of course now I’ll be incorporating Ironman into my fear evangelism tactics: “If you got hit by a bus today, are you confident you’d go to heaven? Or would you like to hear about how to get a titanium suit that makes it possible to fly out of the path of the bus and destroy it from above with a missile for trying to hit you? Bow your head and repeat after me: I am Ironman.”

  7. easton crow

    Thanks, Ron, for continuing to help point me in the right direction. Your words over the last few months have really helped me to draw close to God and experience a new closeness. I really appreciate it.

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