The Gospel and Tony Stark
How Iron Man points us towards Jesus (SPOILER ALERT!)
The 22 movies that come to a climactic finale in Avengers: End Game could help you tell your friends about Jesus.
That’s because the whole plot is actually a re-telling of the Bible’s salvation story (creation, fall, redemption, and restoration), and it all starts with Tony Stark. But before we get to that, let’s talk about the salvation narrative and other hero stories.
Most hero stories begin with an origin story (just like creation). From there, the story takes a turn for the worse. Someone or some group of people is in trouble and need to be saved.
Sometimes, the danger comes from without (like a villain) and sometimes it comes from within the hero themselves. This is what we call the human predicament (the fall). The hero comes in, saving the people from their danger (redemption), making the world right again (restoration). Iron-Man is no different.
Part One: Creation and Fall
It all began in 2008. The world was normal. No Thanos, No bad guys. No problems. Tony Stark begins as a terribly flawed character. But the selfish playboy-genius-billionaire has his redemptive story play out over the next 22 movies.
Tony Stark’s salvation begins with Iron-Man 1 inside a cave in Afghanistan. When the billionaire returns home, he is a changed man. He is no longer just Tony Stark; he is now Iron-Man.
Tony is a complex character – just like us. We battle daily between the flesh (the man) and the spirit (Iron-Man). Stark is an ordinary man without super-powers, but he’s able to become a powerful hero for goodness and justice.
We are told to put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18) to stand against the evil one. When Tony puts on his armor as Iron-Man, he fights for truth and justice, but without his armor, Tony is selfish, and struggles to live up to the standards of Iron-Man.
Throughout the Marvel movies, we see Tony constantly falling short but eventually being redeemed when he puts on the armor and does what is honorable, good, and true.
Part Two: Redemption
The Marvel universe is full sacrifice stories. Vision gives up his life for others, and Black Widow sacrifices herself for Hawkeye and the world, for example.
In Avengers: Endgame, Thanos kills half the galaxy – and Tony Stark walks away from his role as Iron-Man, starting a family of his own.
But five years after the infamous snap he has a decision to make. He could potentially save half the universe, but it would mean losing the new life he made for himself. This is the beginning of his redemption story in Endgame.
But the story just gets even bigger! Thanos explains that killing half of all life in the universe will not do, and now he must destroy all the universe and start over. Now the stakes are higher than they were before. Tony realises what he must do to defeat Thanos…
Part Three: Restoration of the World
In an unforeseen move, Tony as Iron Man steals the infinity stones and absorbs their power, knowing that it will kill him. All 22 films all lead up to this moment. Tony Stark, the playboy billionaire, takes the mantle of Iron-Man and makes a choice to lose everything he has.
He gives up his family, his daughter, his friends, his future. Tony Stark makes the ultimate sacrifice – and saves the universe.
Messages are all around us telling us just to care about ourselves first. But if Tony chose some other way to possibly delay the events for the sake of saving his own life, it would be a dull ending to a 22-movie story buildup – even though it’s what so many people would tell him to do.
Luckily for us, that’s not how the story ends. Tony gives up his life for his friends and the whole world because of love, just like Jesus (John 15:13). In the end, Tony Stark lived up to the standard of Iron-Man through sacrificial love.
Using Tony Stark to share the Gospel
The truth is, there’s only one time in history that this act of love has ever really happened – one moment in all of human history where a man gave his life for the salvation of the world. It happened 2000 years ago on a cross at Calvary. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, took the sin of the world upon him and gave up his life to save the world (John 3:16) .
There are all kinds of stories out there that reflect this narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration – and by keeping a look out, you can use them to show how the Gospel works to your friends!