It’s Superhero Theme Week, and Iron Man 3 fits right in with a not-so-super hero ready to save the girl and the country with a full repertoire of tricks and cheesy one liners. Tony Stark is battling demons of his own creation, and his arrogance places him once again in the sights of a villain with a personal grudge—providing the important lesson that when you issue a challenge to a really bad guy—don’t give him your home address.

Other terrific Christian geek podcasts are covering the superhero theme this week. Check them out and join the fun:

Spoiler Free Review

Unfortunately, there is not much that can be said about this movie without spoiling it. In my opinion, it was the best of the three Iron Man movies, definitely better than Iron Man 2. It’s full of action and has a high entertainment value. In plot and structure it’s actually more similar to Iron Man, for once again we get to see Tony Stark applying his genius in less than ideal circumstances.  But this Tony is much more damaged and working toward a redemption that he can’t quite envision or grasp.

Iron Man 3, like most of the Marvel films, has a large degree of violence and parts of this particular flick could be nightmare inducing for imaginative children. I would strongly urge parents to watch the movie before deciding whether it was appropriate for their children. However, Iron Man 3 (IM3) is possibly tamer in the sex and skin than its predecessors—but that is, of course, relative.

Be sure to check out Plugged In’s family-friendly review (which amazingly enough does not spoil major plot points of the movie).

Beware, the rest of this post will contain serious movie spoilers!



I’m not kidding . . . don’t read any further until you’ve seen the movie.

Identity Crisis

By definition, a superhero is a comic strip character who has superhuman or magical powers and wears a distinctive costume while fighting evil. Interestingly enough, Tony Stark does not fulfill all those requirements. He isn’t superhuman or magical, and in Iron Man 3, he doesn’t even wear his distinctive costume through much of the movie. Interestingly enough, he also seems to be one of the Marvel superheros who doesn’t keep his alter-ego a secret.

Tony is having a hard time recovering from the events in New York with the Avengers. Just a mention of New York gives him anxiety attacks.

I’m a piping hot mess. Nothing’s been the same since New York. You experience things, things you can’t explain . . . Gods, aliens, other dimensions . . . I’m just a man in a tin can.

“Does this subject make you edgy? Do you have PTSD?”
“I don’t think so.”

Just breathe. You’re a mechanic, right? Why don’t you just build something?

Tony is having a crisis of identity.  “You know who I am” is on his name tag in the flashback and the transition to the present has him saying that “These days I’m a changed man. Well, you know who I am.”

“Is that Iron Man?”
“Technically, I am. . . .”
“And you are?”
“The Mechanic, Tony.”

Even though Tony affirms that HE is Iron Man, he seems to have a hard time thinking of himself that way when he’s not wearing the armor. So without the suit, he becomes a type of MacGyver, using his genius to solve problems using whatever is at hand.

At the end of IM3, Tony claims that his armor was a cocoon, but reaffirms that he is Iron Man, even after he had destroyed all of his suits. Perhaps he has broken free from the cocoon and become Iron Man in the flesh.

My armor was never a distraction or a hobby, it was a cocoon. I’m a changed man. They can take away my house, my tricks, and my toys, but one thing they can’t take away from me . . . I am Iron Man

Interesting trivia. God calls Himself “I AM” when He reveals Himself to Moses. Just about everywhere where God addresses someone in the Bible, He reiterates Who He is: “I am the Lord your God.”

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

But really the biggest requirement of a superhero is a super villain to stand up to; the evil part of the definition. Without super villains, superheros are just strange people in weird costumes—no matter what their power is. And just like in Iron Man 2, the villain in Iron Man 3 is someone who has been wronged by Stark (this time, Tony, not his father).

 Some people call me a terrorist, I consider myself a teacher.

“You are a maniac.”
“No, I’m a visionary. I own a maniac.”

 You can’t have it both ways

Talked about this in my last Did You See That? segment. But here it is again. “Scientists play God in the laboratory . . . and then call it evolution.

Empty slot in our minds . . . our entire DNA is destined to be upgraded.  We can hack into the hard drive of any organism.

[Extremis] is the next iteration of human evolution. Addiction won’t be tolerated. If you can’t regulate, you’ll be cut from the program.

Could the empty slot actually be an indication that something is missing, instead of an open slot for an upgrade? Applying the idea of the God-shaped hole to this fictional slot makes it take on a different meaning entirely—our sin has separated us from God and the only thing that can fill that gap in our beings is a reconnection with God.

Science corrupts . . . no, really!

Is there such a thing as pure science? Not when people are involved. We always have bias, we always have ulterior motives. We always have a worldview. It’s interesting that this comes out so strongly in IM3.

What happened? We all begin wide-eyed, pure science . . . then obsession steps in . . . and you look up . . . you’re a long way from shore.

“Extremis is practically stable . . . help me fix it.” “You took his card.” “I took his money.” “You used to have a moral psychology,  you used to have ideals. I get to wake up with someone who still has their soul.”

The Mandarin was created because Killian needed someone to take credit for the accidental explosions.

Start something pure, something exciting, then mistakes and compromise . . . we create our own demons.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)

The “religious” stuff

Believe it or not, there is some, though it’s trite and badly used.

Knowing that the bombings that the Mandarin is taking credit for are actually failed Extremis subjects overdosing and exploding, it makes me wonder if the mentioned church bombing was actually an Extremis drop out seeking spiritual help.

Shadows are the souls going to heaven. The bomber went to hell, so he didn’t get one.

The Mandarin talks like a Baptist pastor.

Jarvis, take them to church.

Daddy material?

“Mom just left for the diner. Dad went to get scratchers. I guess he must have won . . . he never came back. That was six years ago.”
“Dads leave, no need to get pussy about it.”

“Now you’re just going to leave me here like my dad?”
“What? You’re guilt-tripping me . . . Know how I know? We’re connected.”

Through his interactions with Harvey, Tony Stark shows himself to not be very good father material. Children need fathers who are present in their lives, not just things. Tony pays a debt to Harvey by providing him with cool toys from a far instead of stepping in and being present in his life.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)

The Ultimate Superhero

When confronting Tony Stark in The Avengers, Captain America defined a hero as someone who is willing to make the sacrificial play to save others. There is no greater example of this than when Jesus Christ laid down his life for all men, that all might be saved if they repent of their sin. He is the ultimate superhero.

Do you need God?


That’s what I thought of Iron Man 3, but I’d love to know what you thought of the movie. Did you like it? Did the ending bother you? Do you think we’ll see more of Iron Man or is this his swan song? Leave your comments below or comment on the Facebook post.

Did you see that?

No “Did you see that?” segment this week, but I’m still looking for submissions for future episodes. Please record one using the “Send voicemail” link at your right, by calling our feedback number (903) 231-2221, or by sending an email to (put “Did you see that?” in the subject line).

Share your feedback!

What did you think of Iron Man 3? We would like to know, even if just your reactions to the trailer or the topics we shared in this episode. Or what general critical-thinking and entertainment thoughts or questions do you have? Would you like to suggest a movie or TV show for us to give a Christian movie review with critical thinking?

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About the Author
I’m an avid reader and movie lover. There’s not much I like better than reading a book and then seeing the movie version, or watching a movie and then reading the novelization. I have a degree in English literature, which means that at some point in my life I actually received grades for discussing and writing essays about literature. Can’t get much better than that, right? Well, it can. Who needs to pull apart the deep inner workings of dusty old classics when there’s such wonderful fodder in the mass media that people watch (and read) everyday? Above all, I believe that I can’t do much better in this life than in pointing my friends toward a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything makes perfect sense when viewed from a Christian worldview. Even when the intent of the writer was something entirely different, everything can point to our Creator God. He is the foundation for every logical thought, the judge of all evil, and the author of all beauty.

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