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Posts Tagged ‘Iron Man’


Image result for pandemic gameA few years ago at a game night in my house we played Pandemic. We successfully squashed the pandemic. Today we have a pandemic ravaging parts of the U.S. and Europe. There are still cases in Asia but the hot zones are currently in the “Western world”.

Earlier in the year my greatest fear was the political season. A group of pastors gathered to talk about ministry in a season of great political division. It was very helpful in understanding why people are so polarized.

I think this helps understand the different perspective on the “data” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Imagine a graph (because I lack the skills to put one together. On the horizontal axis we see the tension between Left <=> Right. Down the center of that on the vertical axis we see the tension between Modern and Postmodern (top to bottom).

Image result for political graph

It is like this, but not this one I’m using for illustrative purposes.

Upper Left Quadrant (Left & Institutional/Modern): Progressives. They represent a creational mandate concern for improvement or change. Change can be an idol when you pursue it at the expense of the other 3 aspects of the creation mandate. The poster child for political progressives are the Clintons.

Upper Right Quadrant (Right & Modern): This focuses on personal responsibility and freedom. Liberty is a biblical good. When isolated it can be idolatrous. These calls people to put themselves up by their bootstraps (forgetting that some people don’t have bootstraps to pull). The poster children are Ronald Reagan and Captain America.

Lower Left Quadrant (Liberal & Postmodern/individualists): This is the focus on equality reflecting the fact we are all made in the image of God. The farther you get from center the farther you likely get from biblical equality with a focus on equal outcomes rather than opportunity, and equality for various non-traditional minority groups. The poster child is AOC with the Berne lurking around there somewhere.

Lower Right Quadrant (Right & Postmodern/individualists): They prize security. Part of the creation mandate was to subdue and rule, keeping the Garden. Again, this is a good thing but the more you pull away from the other biblical values the more dangerous it can become and more ideological. This seems to be what MAGA is about with Iron Man and Steve Bannon as recognizable representatives.

Personally, I’m not sure if the ones on the right should be swamped. Reagan was not about institutional power but the security people need institutional power to have … security.

You can probably see some of your idolatry as a reflection of your voting patterns. I value liberty. I am a Reagan and Captain America guy. Freedom comes with risk.

Into these polarizing ideologies and idolatries comes Covid-19. Responses to this crisis reflect your idols.

Progressives see this as an opportunity for change. This change is instituted by the government. Greater government power seems to be the solution to this and we see the Progressives in Congress pushing for plenty of change in the economic stimulus package.

The representatives of equality are largely critical of those who differ. They see this as an opportunity to being Green New Deal stuff.

Image result for captain america fighting iron manThose are more political and not really the person on the street at the moment. Most people are torn between liberty and security, and unlike Captain America and Iron Man, this fight is taking place largely in social media instead of an airport in Europe or Siberia.

Some, valuing liberty see the economic destruction our response is causing as worse than the disease we are fighting due to the length of recovery, the increase in income inequality, long term changes to the standard of living, and equally shared by the whole nation instead of just in hot zones.

Others, valuing security want the world to shut down because people will die. Stopping the spread of the virus is most important.

Own your idolatry! Admit that you are not balancing out change, liberty, equality and security but that you are putting one above the others. It’s okay, the vast majority of us are doing it.

In other words, get the log out of your eye before you deal with their speck. The reality of the matter is that no one knows what the right course of action is at this point. None of us have time machines or perfect predicatability. Honest scientists will admit that computer models aren’t perfect, and can’t account for unforeseen factors. There is that struggle between personal responsibility and government responsibility, between liberty and security.

You love one of those more than the other. You are willing to sacrifice on at the expense of the other. We’ve been here before. We were here after 9/11. The Patriot Act sacrifices liberty on the altar of security. At the time I was “okay, I’ve got nothing to hide.” I was wrong in that opinion. Whether I have anything to hide is irrelevant. It is also about how the government uses it, manipulates it or sees it in line with its own bias.

We have these differences about how best to address the pandemic because we have different idols. It is not because the other person is stupid, they just value things differently than you do. And the sooner we all see that the sooner we’ll stop throttling each other on the internet.

 

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I don’t actually go to the movies very often. Way too expensive to happen as often as when I was younger. So, I wait for the movies that beg for the big screen: action. The Avengers is one of those movies whose siren call I could not resist. And I was not disappointed.

I really wasn’t into comic books as a kid. Some of my friends were. The medium was just lost on me. Seemed too much like the children’s books. I don’t know. But I’ve always enjoyed the movies starting with the Superman series when I was a teenager. Okay, just the first two. Did they make any others?

This year will be comic book hero heaven as they wrap up the Batman series, re-boot the Spider-Man series with a darker take (why did they do this again?) and introduce The Avengers series. They have been building toward this with the 2 Iron Man movies and then both Thor and Captain America last year. Those two movies introduce some key elements to the plot of The Avengers. I only saw Captain America, but I was fully able to follow along with what was happening in The Avengers. Some of the other characters appeared in some of the Iron Man movies.

Mark Ruffalo is in there, somewhere

So, you walk into the movie having back stories on some of the Avengers. This is the third movie for Hulk, and the third actor playing him. The second was essentially a reboot of the first (and much better). Edward Norton did a great job as Hulk, but apparently fans just miss Bill and Lou because Hulk, despite his incredible strength and jumping ability can’t get off the ground as a series of movies. Enter Mark Ruffalo with his take on Hulk (this is turning into the first Batman movie series: both Kilmer and Keaton were very good, and Clooney utterly horrendous). It is almost like the other two movies didn’t exist. Mark is sort of the hippie Hulk. The laid-back genius who is supposedly angry all the time. He was better than Eric Bana, but … Apparently I am in the minority because Ruffalo has been signed to additional movies. Sadly, Edward Norton has gone the way of Val Kilmer: a great actor with a bad reputation for working well with others (rumor has it, that in Val’s case the directors probably should have listened to him more often but you know how that goes).

Hawkeye and Black Widow share a moment

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The last few weeks have been pretty busy.  The final push before vacation will be busy too, so I took a “mental health” break.  I caught an afternoon showing of Iron Man 2 at the local 2nd run theater.

Iron Man is giving Spider-Man and Batman a run for their money.  While all 3 are based on comic book heroes, they are very different in tone.  Spider-Man has had a playful sense of humor to balance off the relational issues and conflict.  Batman is very dark with sparse humor as Batman also struggles with relational issues in addition to the criminals.  Iron Man’s style of humor is sarcastic and the enemies are not limited to one city- Iron Man is world wide.

They all have relational issues.  Spider-Man didn’t know his father, though was raised by an uncle.  His disobedience opened the door to his uncle’s death.  This haunts him.  He is broke.  There is a woman he loves, but is afraid of putting her in danger.

Batman watched his parents die.  As their sole heir, he is rich.  He uses his riches to protect people from evil men.  He loves a childhood friend but she fears his dark hobby as a vigilante.   His father was a strong man, however, and his strength is extended in his son.

The Woman He's Afraid to Love

Iron Man is different.  He is not a hidden hero.  Everyone knows it is him.  Like Master Wayne, he is the rich heir of a strong father.   But he was estranged from his father while alive.  Part of his irreverence and sarcasm is connected to this lack of approval from dad.  He too has a woman he loves.  But he is afraid to let her know.

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I was not a big comic book fan.  But I usually enjoy movies based on comic books.  I suppose too much is lost emotionally with drawings rather in motion pictures.  I’m thinking more of the shifting emotions.  Or I am a snob.

I’m not a big Iron Man fan, nor was I anticipating the movie.  Robert Downy Jr.?  Not even remotely a draw for me.  But Jon Faverau (Mikey from Swingers, director of Elf) is the director (as well as pulling a cameo as Tony Stark’s driver) and the trailers made it look interesting.  The initial reviews have been pretty good.  So I plunked down my $6.50 and enjoyed a matinee.

I’m glad I did.  As the first in what the producers hope is a series, this movie introduced the character and set the stage for all that is to come.  Robert Downy Jr. was a good casting move for this movie.  You buy into him as Tony Stark- a womanizing, smart-mouthed man prone to the excesses that his incredible wealth affords him.  His family has been in the defense industry since World War II.  He is an engineering genius.  His parents died while he was a teen.  His father’s friend Obediah ran the business until Tony joined him when he turned 21.

You really don’t like Tony.  He’s arrogant and a user of people.  But all of that changes when he is captured by terrorists in Afghanistan.  The religious aspects are complete ignored.  What the movie focuses on is that they are using weapons manufactured by his company!  Despite patriotic intentions, his weapons systems are being used by aggressors not just for defense.  Stuck in the cave for 3 months he has an epiphany.

But he’s trapped in a cave.  He is recovering from heart surgery after shrapenal from one of his weapons injures him in the attack.  The also-imprisoned doctor uses a magnet to keep the remaining shrapenal from going into his heart.  There he must build his latest weapons system for the warlord.  Instead, Tony makes a technological discovery and also creates a metal suit with weapons to make his way to freedom.

He succeeds in escaping and decides to develop his original design.  Back home people don’t understand the change in mindset that has overtaken him.  It is a picture of repentance (without the religious component).  His whole reason for living, and how he lives, changes.  He is, essentially, a new man.  He tries to right the wrongs of his past.  Unfortunately for him, there is a betrayer who tries to destoy him.

There aren’t as many battle scenes as I’d like, but they fit the story line.  The focus is on character development.  Tony comes face-to-face with his personal emptiness, confessing to his personal assistant (played well by Gwyneth Paltrow): “You are all I have.”  Due to her attentiveness to his compulsive nature, he is all she has too.  A very different looking Jeff Bridges plays Obediah.  He looks like he’s put on some muscle (thicker, but not fat), grew a goatee and shaved his head.

The ending was not as good as the rest of the movie.  It was a letdown in some ways.  But this was a good summer blockbuster.  But it is not mindless.  It has themes of repentance, redemption, betrayal, sacrifice etc.  He can only survive because of a power outside of himself.  Not quite a new heart, but pretty intriguing.  The ‘new’ Tony Stark uses his wealth and genius to help the poor and oppressed, not for his own excess.  These are things that a Christian can affirm, and should be doing.  But the ‘old’ Tony will pose some uncomfortable moments for parents (no nudity, but some implied sexual immorality).  In the context you see that his sin does not satisfy. 

Overall, Jon Faverau did a good job with the pacing of the movie.  There was enough humor to keep it from being too serious.  Much of this takes place while he builds the high tech suit at his home workshop.  The soundtrack also had lots of hard rock, but Black Sabbath’s Iron Man doesn’t show up until the credits.  The soundtrack fit the movie, and that’s what you are looking for in a soundtrack.

This is the first good movie of the summer blockbuster season.

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