Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ironman: A Lesson on Second Chances

I know that the film Ironman has been out for some time and that the critics and superhero fans have commented on its success at the box office as well as Robert Downy Jr.'s revival on the big screen, but I have been contemplating the significance of this film and its themes and lessons for some time now, and I believe that the time has come to make them public.

During my first viewing of Ironman, I was contemplating whether or not my 10 year old son Dominic should be allowed to view it. I had heard about the violence, torture, sexual innuedo and decided to first preview it before allowing Dominic or any of my children to view it. The acting was good, the story funny, and the development of Tony Stark's character and Ironman's adventures was intriguing. I thought the ending was somewhat cliche'. Once again the superhero faces impossible odds and overcomes the fact that his nemisis has developed fool proof plan (an iron suit with significantly more power), I had seen this before.

However, during my second viewing, I saw the brilliance of this movie. I was watching it this time with my kids, strategically editing the allusions to sex and hoping my kids wouldn't be tainted by Tony Stark's apparent obssession with alcohol, sex, materialism and his own intellectual ability. The climax came as Stark broke free of the terrorist's grip, and in the midst of a spectacular explosion, blasted himself into the desert where he was forced to wander aimlessly without food or water until discovered by the military.

I remember stopping the movie at this point and asking my kids: "What do you think Tony was thinking about as he was wandering in the desert?" My kids gave the usual answers: "He was probably happy to be alive, he was thinking about how he hoped he would make it home, he was thinking about all the things we would do when he got home."

I saw and opportunity in that last statement so I asked a followup question: "If Tony makes it home safe, (we all knew he would make it out) what do you think he will do differently?"

My kids weren't sure how to answer, but Dominic responded: "Stop making weapons and do soemething good."

I have to admit; I was proud. Dominic saw the central theme of Ironman:

"If we are given a second chance at life, if we have been caught up in all the distractions of this world, if they have become idols to us, and we like Tony have been sent to into the darkness of the cave, and tortured because of our failures, when we are free again will we retreat back into the narcissistic arrogance that first isolated us? Maybe like Tony we have walked through the desolate desert and longed for another opportunity to use all the gifts and talents we have been given. Maybe we have realized that God gave us our abilities to not only glorify him, but help others. Up until his imprisonment in the cave, and his journey through the desert, Tony was living for himself. He purchased priceless paintings simply because he "had to have them" and put them in storage where no one could enjoy them. He treated women as objects of his pleasure, never fostering any type of in-depth relationship where he would have to be real and vunerable, and probably most significantly, he used his highly developed intellect to create weapons of destruction, weapons that would make him wealthy."

The excution of Tony's response to redemption and what he does with his second chanc is what made the second half of Ironman exceptional. Did you notice how his focus changes? What courage he has to take the very industry that supplies his life blood and shut it down. What about the stock price? What about the board of directors? What about the employees of Stark Industries? Stark's courage is exceptional. Look at his approach to alcohol. Tony is seen drinking alcohol in the second half of the film, but instead of the flippant attitude of a borderline alcoholic, we see a more responsible user of alcohol. Finally, he approach to women? He is awkward in his interest in Pepper, just as she is skeptical of his new attitude toward her; however, she is not a object for his pleasure, but a complex being that he choses to pursue with care and caution. Sure he fails her, but what are we to expect from a man who up to this point saw women only as objects of sexual desire?

I don't know if anyone will ever read this blog or care about my observations, but if like me, you are a superhero fan, watch Ironman again, this time with a new perspective and examine your own life and the understand the power of redemption. Live life deliberately, use your gifts and abilities for others in hopes that you will better the world around you.

2 Corinthians 5:15

"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."

1 comment:

  1. As a mortal who has only seen "Ironman" but once, I have to thank you for kick-starting my appreciation of the bigger themes of the movie.

    I agree that the film techniques were solid and the story ending somewhat cliche, but I'll be thinking about that chance for redemption for a few whiles now. Good to ponder. Thank God for second chances, eh?