Revelations on Conversion
Continuing in the Marvel vein, aspects of conversion can be revealed in the 2008 movie Iron Man. In the beginning of the story, Tony Stark leads a self-centered life—he makes money for himself; he is promiscuous for his own instant gratification; every action he does is to promote himself. How does he do this? He owns a corporation that creates weapons for war. He does not think of where the money comes from specifically, but thinks more of how much the money can earn him more prestige, so he does not think in terms of what his weapons of war do. He just knows that if creates weapons that perform well, people will buy them. The targets of these items are not on his mind. He lacks both responsibility for his actions and empathy for others.
But he gets captured by the enemy after being wounded in the heart (note to my sensitive viewers—this part of the movie contains torture so is not recommended). A doctor, who could easily be seen as the Christ figure, puts a device near his heart that helps him live. This new device keeps the fragments of a bomb, we’ll call it evil, from entering his heart. Not only does this doctor save his life, but he also befriends Tony—Tony’s conversion of heart begins. In addition, the device that is near his heart glows with a new energy! Tony at this point begins to see the human side of war with his newly created heart.
Unfortunately, his new friend dies in a selfless act to help Tony escape, but now Tony thinks about the consequences of his weapons and his responsibility for the power and talents he has. He thinks in a whole new way. He realizes that his money and self-focused mentality does not help solve the problem of war—it actually generates it. Not only that, he finally clearly sees that human beings are the targets of his weapons which are being used by both sides. When he gets to his home, he builds some armor that is powered by his “new” heart so that he can repair the damage he has done. Notice, his conversion begins on the inside and stretches out to his actions and outer self. He begins to destroy his own weapons, no matter the cost to self.
So the aspects of conversion as shown in Iron Man are growing in empathy, taking focus off of self, money, and prestige, and doing what you can to repair the damage done with selfless acts.
I will admit that Iron Man (2008) is not a complete Christian conversion since he all too easily kills the enemy, but it does show the first fruits of a change in focus, moving from irresponsibility and indifference to responsibility and empathy. I would also add that Iron Man 2 (2010) unfortunately erases the growth of the mythological character Tony Sparks. For me, this makes Iron Man 2 rather disappointing because his conversion in the first Iron Man seems to be so profound and still leaves room for further growth. On the bright side, his heart is recreated again in Iron Man 2, and he returns to the path of conversion by the end of the movie.
Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct (1792).
Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus–affliction of spirit and compunction cordis–repentance of heart. (1431).
The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man and new heart (1432).
It is necessary, then, to appeal to the spiritual and moral capacities of the human person and to the permanent need for his inner conversion, so as to obtain social changes that will really serve him. The acknowledged priority for the conversion of heart in no way eliminates but on the contrary imposes the obligation of bringing the appropriate remedies to institutions and living conditions when they are an inducement to sin, so that they conform to the norms of justice and advance the good rather than hinder it (1888).
Without the help of grace, men would not know how “to discern the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives in to evil, and the violence which under the illusion of fighting evil only makes it worse.” This is the path of charity, that is, of the love of God and neighbor. Charity is the greatest social commandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the practice of justice, and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving: “Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (1889).
Humans love stories. We listen to stories, read stories, watch stories. Many of us would like to have our own story. Mythology is a type of story. It is a wonderful way to explore ideas, explore the consequences of certain ideas, reveal human nature, and maybe even get people to think in a new direction. With mythology, writers can creatively grasp certain universal truths that are otherwise hidden. In short, the myth tends to know what is unknowable. How does mythology do this?
In the words of Chaucer, the best story is that of “best sentence and moost solas.” It is not only woven together well, but it also has more to offer. Sir Philip Sidney suggests that “Poesy [story, literature] therefore is an art of imitation, for so Aristotle termeth it in the word mimesis—that is to say, a representing, counterfeiting, or figuring forth—to speak metaphorically, a speaking picture—with this end, to teach and delight.” Good stories not only entertain, but they also teach something. Mythology has a profound way of doing this. This series is devoted to delving into the mythology created by movie and other visual media makers.
Christological will be a frequently referenced concept.
The education of conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart (1784).
 Jeff Cavins’ The Bible Timeline: The Story of Salvation
 Theology of the Body reference notes, p. 91
 from the “General Prologue” in Canterbury Tales
 from “The Defense of Poesy”
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