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A Lesson from Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3Last weekend, I saw Iron Man 3 with Georgette and two of our daughters.  Iron Man 3 is the seventh installment of the Marvel Comic Universe of movies that includes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers.  The lead character in the Iron Man series is Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), a self-described genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist.

In the original Iron Man movie, Stark was taken prisoner by terrorists and was subsequently transported to Afghanistan where he was held in a heavily guarded prison.  During his confinement, Stark, with the help of a fellow prisoner, invented an iron suit that protected him from weapons of war.  The iron suit was equipped with its own weapons and rocket propelled devices that allowed Stark to fly away from his enemies.

After escaping from Afghanistan, Stark returned home and improved the weaponry on his iron suit and its ability to fly through the air.  He then proceeded to fight off villains and save the world from destruction.

In Iron Man 2, Stark was confronted by two villains who teamed up against him.  With the help of a friend in the military who Stark had provided with an iron suit, he was eventually able to conquer the villains.

After Iron Man 2, Stark showed up again in The Avengers and teamed up with The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and a couple of other superheroes.  Together they fought off an alien army that came from outer space to take over the Earth.  The final battle took place in New York City.

Iron Man 3 opens after Tony Stark has returned home from his most recent battle in New York.  For the first time in his life, Stark begins experiencing anxiety attacks, insomnia, and night terrors.  At one point, he tells the woman he loves that although he has been able to successfully fight off every bad guy that has come after him, what he fears most is that because of him, something bad is going to happen to her.

Stark’s fears come true after his home is destroyed by helicopter gunships that have been sent by the Mandarin, a mystery terrorist who has been killing people in various parts of the world.  The Mandarin’s ultimate goal is to kill the president of the United States and take over control of the country.  Stark barely escapes from the helicopter gunships and flies away in his iron suit.  His girlfriend also escapes, but is later captured by the Mandarin’s agents.

Because the power source for Stark’s iron suit is damaged when his house is destroyed, the suit runs out of power while Stark is still airborne, which causes him to come crashing down in a field in Tennessee.  He takes off his suit, drags it to the nearest house, and then breaks into the house so he can get some rest.

As he’s resting on a couch, Harley, a 10-year-old boy who lives in the house with his mother, walks in on Stark.  Harley grabs his potato gun, points it at Stark, and demands that he explain why he’s in Harley’s house.  Stark proves to Harley that he’s the Iron Man by showing Harley his iron suit.  He then explains to Harley that he’s really just a mechanic at heart who likes to build things.  He then talks Harley into getting him some food and some other items that he needs to begin his search for the Mandarin.

With Harley’s help, Stark investigates a previous local explosion that appeared to be the work of the Mandarin’s agents.  While they’re together, Stark has an anxiety attack that affects his ability to function.  Harley is confused by the way Stark is behaving because it’s completely out of character for Iron Man.  After Stark recovers, he tells Harley to go home and wait for further instructions, while he continues his search for the Mandarin.

Later, while Stark is driving down the highway, he calls Harley from his cell phone.  While they’re talking on the telephone, Stark has another anxiety attack and pulls off the road.  Harley is again confused by Stark’s behavior and in a firm tone of voice says, “You’re a mechanic aren’t you?”  When Stark responds with  “yes,” Harley says in a commanding voice, “Then why don’t you just build something!”

After hearing his young friend tell him to build something, Stark snaps out of his current mental state.  The expression on his face shows what he’s thinking: Why didn’t I think of that?

The next scene shows Stark walking around in a big-box store with two carts, loading up on gadgets and other items that he uses to build weapons that are later used against the Mandarin’s agents.

The anxiety that Stark suffers from during the movie is the same type of anxiety that has affected all of us at one time or another.  The definition of “anxiety” is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”  We live in a time when prescription drug use is at an all-time high for people who are suffering from chronic anxiety.

What if we were able to get the Son of God on the phone every time we experienced anxiety?  I would expect that He might ask, “You’re a Christian aren’t you?”  When we responded with  “yes,” there’s a good possibility He would then say in a commanding voice, “Then why don’t you just create something!”

Think about it.  We were all created in the image and likeness of God, which means that every one of us is a creator.

The company you work for is downsizing and you’re anxious about the fact that you might lose your job.  Stop worrying, start trusting, and go out and create some new marketable skills.  At the same time, create some new relationships with people who are in a position to hire you or help you find a job.

You’re married and you have some anxiety about the fact that your relationship with your spouse is going stale.  If you’re practicing contraception in violation of God’s natural law, get back in the state of grace and create a new baby who will give you and your spouse an opportunity to renew your lifetime commitment to each other.

You just found out that you have a serious medical condition.  Create the trust and courage you need to deal with your condition by setting aside an extra 45 minutes every day to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion.

You feel as though your life no longer has any meaning.  Create some excitement and love for another person who is less fortunate than you by taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with the person.

You’re worried about a family member because he or she is going through some emotional turmoil.  Create some peace of mind for the person by praying a novena for him or her.

We all have the ability and the power to be creators — creators of children, peace, excitement, love, relationships, skills, trust, courage, and holiness.

It’s time to stop being anxious about your daily struggles and go out and create something!

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One Response to “A Lesson from Iron Man 3”

  1. Sister Roberta Houlihan, CSJ Says:

    Dear Harry and Georgette,
    I’ve never had any desire to see this type of movie, so had a quick “education” as I read your story! I’m amazed once again as to how you bring such good lessons to readers! [I did read and delighted in the Chronicles of Narnia!!]
    Thank you once again for all you accomplish with the written word! Sister Roberta

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