Iron Man 3

June 14th, 2013

After The Avengers scored over $1.5 billion at the international box office (the third largest box office haul in history), Marvel Studios initiated “Phase 2” of their cinematic universe. Starting with Iron Man 3 (which opened May 3) Disney plans to deliver six new Marvel shared movieverse installments between now and the fall of 2015.

In a steadily expanding world of powerful aliens, Norse gods, mutants, supersoldiers, and talking raccoons (just wait for 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy), what role does genius, billionaire, philanthropist, human Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) have to play? That’s the initial struggle facing the character in Iron Man 3, as he’s still wrestling with Captain America’s biting question from The Avengers: “Big man in a suit of armor. Take that away—what are you?” However, before Stark can even put his near-death experience in the Battle of New York behind him, he’s forced to suit up again and confront an all-new enemy in the mysterious Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), a ruthless terrorist who will stop at nothing to see Stark, the President, and American freedom destroyed.

The Power Within

Unlike Iron Man and Iron Man 2, where the titular hero faces off against similarly armor-suited enemies, Iron Man 3 pits the hero against genetically engineered super-soldiers created by the Extremis program. After his Mark 42 Iron Man armor is damaged, Stark must forego his iconic suit and use wit and ingenuity to fight the Extremis soldiers. The ensuing confrontations raise questions about where one’s power truly comes from and how one should use this power.

In Iron Man 3, Stark must look within himself for the strength to defeat the Mandarin and the super-charged Extremis force, all of whom seek to use their power for personal gain. All of us, with or without a high-powered armored suit, must determine how and for what we’ll use our power. While we may not always think of ourselves as having powers, the Holy Spirit blesses each of us with gifts and talents and provides us with wisdom, strength, comfort, and healing. The power of faith can do incredible things, and we are called to use it responsibly.

Iron Faith

The Holy Spirit is the source of our power. As Jesus told his followers after his resurrection, “You will receive the power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The Spirit calls us, guides us, and gives us purpose. While we live in a culture that often tempts us to use our abilities to acquire wealth or recognition, as followers of Christ we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. We must use our power to glorify God and to do the work of God’s kingdom.

Some youth are well aware of their gifts. Their gifts have been affirmed and they have had ample opportunity to put their gifts to use, both within and outside of the church. Other youth may feel as though their gifts have been overlooked or aren’t valued. All young people need to be aware that God has blessed them with unique talents and abilities and calls them to use the accompanying power for God’s glory. As a community of faith we need to help youth identify their strengths and empower them to use these gifts in service of God and others. As believers, we don’t need sophisticated high-tech armor, super-serum, or mutant abilities. The power of the Holy Spirit is sufficient to accomplish the superheroic work God calls us to do.

This article is also published as part of LinC, a weekly digital resource for youth small groups and Sunday school classes. The complete study guide can be purchased and downloaded here.

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