Tag Archives: movies

Iron Man

Iron Man

                Iron Man is the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, is the most popular character of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the character that brings the most attention to the Avengers. I attribute this to the fact that he is the most relatable character of the Avengers. He has a long list of character flaws that make him the most human of all of them.

                Unlike Captain America who has a near flawless character and motivation for all of his decisions, or Thor who is a demi-god, and the radioactive Hulk, Tony Stark is completely human and makes decisions like any normal human would. He is selfish, egotistical and at times moody. Even in the moments when he makes the heroes choices, he makes those choices off of a very real very tangible human motivation—anger, revenge, desperation, fear of death, and love.

Black Widow and Hawkeye, although they do seek revenge in the Avengers against Loki, are also portrayed as doing it out of duty and training. Captain America makes his choices out of a seemingly God given desire to always do the right thing for no other reason than that it is right. Captain America may be our ideal, but Iron Man is the one we relate with. Which begs the question, should he be a hero that captures our imagination?

As a comic book fan, I say yes. As a Christian, I still say yes, so long as we know the direction he is heading. The story that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is telling of Tony Stark is one of growth and change. He moves from the first movie as a selfish narcissist with many moral and relational failings, to one that has hope and a purpose for his life that motivates him to press on towards good.

Although we see his character flaws plainly, I do not believe that is what captures our imagination when we watch him, that is not what influences us after the film is over. What influences us is his victories and his sacrifices. In the first movie his heroism is out of recklessness, anger, desperation and a love for Pepper. In the second, it is out of an idea that that is what heroes do. In the Avengers we see him finally grasp on to doing good because it is the right thing to do as he risks getting trapped in the worm hole.

If we pattern our lives after this pattern and movement towards good for the right reasons, then we have caught the good in Tony Stark. The character defects are there, raw and in your face. But those make him more tangible and a better example of overcoming personal issues more than any other marvel movie to date. To the Christians, I say do not forget, that there is not one Biblical character who did not have serious moral issues other than Christ, and many of the worst (Sampson) are in the Hebrews hall of Faith.


What We Watch

Part of engaging culture as Christians is finding out how culture affects us, and acting counter culturally to that. A second part is making sure that we are not partaking in culture in such a way that it hinders our Christian walk. Everything we listen to, watch, and read will affect how we think. How we think will affect our actions.

Subtly, the culture you engage will begin to infiltrate your mind, for better or for worse. For instance, in the short documentary by Jean Kilbourne
, Killing Us Softly (warning, mature content), Jean shows how even just the advertisements that we visually consume can affect every ones views of women, both the way men view them, and the way women view themselves.

She draws strong correlations between the advertisements in a society and the number of cases of eating disorders and self image issues. She shows how consistently in advertising women are presented as sex symbols, victims, prey, objects, and finding value in their relationship to men, not on their own. Where there is no mass media, there are drastically lower numbers of eating disorders.

Advertisements also affect how we think about manhood, womanhood, parenting, children, ethics, morality, sex, vacations, rights, and more. Therefore, we must be careful as to what we consume. Now, we may not be able to avoid all billboards, commercials, and Facebook advertisements, but we can choose what television shows we watch.

The television series, The Big Bang Theory, Community, My Name Is Earl, Friends with Benefits, How I Met Your Mother, and others all devalue the importance and sacredness of sexuality. Sex is a commodity, sex is cheap, sex is between any two consenting adults without repercussion (At least in the movie, Knocked Up, the movie is about a pregnancy after foolish choices).  On a short note, our society does not understand sacredness of any form, and certainly not when it comes to sex.

My primary point though is that whether we like it or not, these shows are going to affect how we think and therefore how we live. Is it then worth it? Is it worth it to watch programs that consistently portray life contrary to biblical principles when there are many other good shows that do not. One could watch, White Collar, or Sherlock

(BBC. Really, you absolutely need to watch this, if you gain one thing out of my blog I hope it is that you watch the BBC Sherlock starring, Benedict Cumberbatch), or movies like, Valkyrie,
, Howl’s Moving Castle any from the Marvel Universe and others.

I am not saying that we cannot watch anything that contains ideas contrary to Scripture, (each denomination would, in their opinion, need their own Hollywood!) but we must be careful and we must remember that self control, and personal sacrifice  are part of the Christian walk and more important than our own entertainment.


Influence of Culture

                I write a blog that analyzes culture. Which is ironic, because I know and will try to convince you, that we learn best through stories rather than well thought out (or not so well thought out) arguments. Our thoughts, values, and opinions are formed more by all of the passive messages that we come across every day than by a conscious decision to believe a certain way. If we continually watch movies that portray masculinity and manhood as beating up bad guys, then we will start to think that way. If we watch movies that always portray women as damsels in distress that will begin to affect how we think about women.

                George Lucas was well aware of this, he says, “I’ve always tried to be aware of what I say in my films, because all of us who make motion pictures are teachers — teachers with very loud voices.” In Star Wars, he shows us the journey of a boy into manhood. That journey includes risking one’s life to save others, and making the right choices even when they have consequences. George Lucas portrays evil as something that is a choice. One chooses the light side or the dark side.

                These messages don’t only come through movies though. We learn how to think through advertisements, the news, billboards, (heaven forbid) bumper stickers, magazines, pictures, memes and any other mode of communication. Everything carries a message. What are you learning?

                All media teaches us how we should think and live. Not all of them are of a biblical worldview though. This is why we must again be able to say, “Yes…. But” We affirm what is correct, and deny what is not. What messages do you see Hollywood telling us that are correct? What do you hear them saying that is false?