Iron Man 3 – In the Image of God
May 23, 2013 at 12:30 am, by Roni
WARNING! This article contains major spoilers for Iron Man 3! Proceed at your own risk.
“Let’s face it: you didn’t deserve her. I could’ve made her perfect.”
-Aldritch Killian, Iron Man 3
At the heart of the story of Iron Man 3, past the PTSD, the deconstruction of action movies in general and the superhero genre in particular, is the question of perfecting human beings.
Extremis is a new technology that can regrow lost limbs, allowing soldiers the chance to walk again, survive terrible injuries, and even breathe fire. It works biologically, transforming the body from within.
On the other hand we have Stark’s Iron Man suits (and there are certainly an impressive array on show here), technology that works on the outside. Instead of Extremis that gives a person the power to heal themselves, Tony Stark builds himself an electromagnet in his chest, externally keeping the shrapnel from killing him.
This is seemingly a classic battle between animal and machine, technological wizardry vs. nature red in tooth and claw.
“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”
The Torah teaches us that each of us is made in the image of God, no matter what we look like. Indeed, Genesis Rabba praises God, that while a human king stamps every coin with his likeness and they all come out the same, God stamps us all with God’s likeness and each of us is unique.
And yet it is our sacred duty to work to perfect the world, to perform Tikkun Olam, in the strictest sense of repairing the world, fixing that which has gone awry. Doctor’s are permitted to heal, scientists are permitted to build, yet at the root of it all we should remember that each person is in the image of the divine.
“…she was already perfect.”
At the end of the movie, Tony Stark destroys all his suits of armour, and a surgeon finally removes all the pieces of shrapnel from his chest. Pepper Potts is healed of the Extremis technology, and they return to living as ‘normal’ a relationship as anyone could have with an eccentric, egocentric billionaire.
Because Tony realises that in the end it wasn’t about the armour. We can strip away our possessions, lose limbs and suffer heinous injuries, but still be in the image of the divine. Because it’s not about technology, or biological perfection – it’s about the soul, the spirit, the person inside.
In the end, Tony Stark simply is Iron Man, even without the suits.
“My suit was never a distraction or a hobby. It was a cocoon. And I’m a new man now.”
Roni Tabick is a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. You can read more of his work here: www.mythicwriting.blogspot.com. Or follow him on twitter: www.twitter.com/rtabick.