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Christian Living

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Iron Man and The Gospel According to DC & Marvel

Scott Bayles - Author

Marvel Studio's first box office blockbuster introduced audiences to Tony Stark, a genius inventor and billionaire owner of the technology company, Stark Industries. Tony made much of his fortune by designing weapons for the military, until the day a terrorist organization, known as the Ten Rings, kidnapped him and coerced him to build them a weapon of mass destruction. Rather than build the weapon, however, Stark secretly built a suit of armor to help him escape. Inside his armor, Tony Stark became what creator Stan Lee originally dubbed the Invincible Iron Man.

Experiencing Iron Man's cinematic debut still looms large in my memory. My wife, Ashley, accompanied me to the theater, and our then two-year-old son occupied the seat between us. His excitement rivaled my own as we waited at the concession stand and searched for a seat, but about forty minutes into the movie his enthusiasm propelled him right out of his seat.

As Tony's dramatic escape scene drew to a close, he pulled the ignition on his steel suit and rocketed into the air. Just then, my son launched out of his seat shouting, "Iron Man flies!" His enthusiasm infected other moviegoers and made the whole cinema experience more enjoyable for everyone.

As we exited the theater that night, my mind immediately began devising plans to fabricate my own Iron Man armor. After doing some Internet research, I discovered that other enthusiastic fans had already been enjoying some success with sculpting or what cosplayers call "scratch building" (using cardboard or other similar materials, without a template), but the most common and preferred method of replicating Tony's armor was Pepakura, which is Japanese for paper-craft. Reminiscent of origami, Pepakura models start off as 3D computer images, and then unfold into 2D patterns that can be constructed from cardstock or foam. The process seemed difficult and daunting. As much as I wanted an Iron Man suit, I put the project on the back- burner. Marvel's Iron Man movie franchise enjoyed two sequels before I worked up the nerve to tackle the project.

I finally committed to start work on it early in 2014. The process dragged on for more than three weeks and ate up more hours than I can remember, but in the end it was worth it! I debuted my armor that April at Cape Comic-Con in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Ashley joined me as Black Widow and the kids (we had three of them by then!) each cosplayed various Avengers. Iron Man helped draw quite a crowd to our Costumers for Christ table and enabled us to share the gospel with more than three hundred people that day!

For those of you who aren't familiar with the story of Iron Man, not only did Tony escape captivity, but he continued using his armor to fight evil and injustice. Outside of his armor, the human inventor Tony Stark is vulnerable, but inside his hi-tech Iron Man suit, he's virtually invincible!

Unlike Iron Man, you and I don't battle terrorists or super-villains in a hi-tech suit of armor. But like Iron Man, we do have a battle to fight and, as Christians, we've been given a suit of armor that makes us invincible against our enemy. Listen to what God's Word has to say about that:

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17, NLT)

Paul's analogy provides a dramatic connection with Iron Man's story, including a detailed comparison between Tony Stark's high-tech suit of armor and the spiritual armor of God, and underscores three aspects of our Christian battle: our adversary, our armor, and our attitude.

Excerpted from The Gospel According to DC & Marvel by Scott Bayles (2016).

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