Ok, I just got back from this movie and I have to say… INCREDIBLE! Best. Iron Man. Ever. But now it’s time to harness all of those Hollywood dollars to teach students about Jesus. One of the overriding themes in this movie is metamorphosis. The best part is, you don’t have to spoil the movie to talk about these themes!
There are two main characters in this theme: Tony Stark and (to steer clear of any and all spoilers) the Bad Guy. This movie is about both of their metamorphoses. Tony stark is going to wrestle with something akin to PTSD related to all that happened in the Avengers movie (we have a guide for that too). Stark has been escaping into his work instead of dealing with it head on which eventually ends up really helping him in the ending AND allowing him time to process what all happened. With the help of a little kid, he realizes that it’s time to use the “tinkering” to heal instead of using it to escape, and saves everything in a Wayne’s World style mega-happy ending. At the end he says that the suit wasn’t armor but a cocoon that allowed him to change.
The Bad Guy is hurt by Tony Stark years before this all happens and spends his time harboring the hatred and resentment. Instead of dealing with it, he is owned by it and is transformed into something truly horrible.
That’s enough of the story for you to understand and make references if, for some odd reason, you don’t want to go see it as “research” for your upcoming lesson.
Metamorphosis is a huge theme in the Bible as well. For us, the seeds of the “Bad Guy” metamorphosis are born in us. Sin is within us and seeking to deliver its brokenness and separation in the most attractive packaging. You see it throughout the Bible: Cain transforms into one of the first of God’s humans to a murderer, Saul into a murderous tyrant, and David into an adulterous murderer.
But the good news is that the true metamorphosis that is offered, the one we all long for, is the gift of God. Jesus offers not just forgiveness, but transformation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor 5:17). That is what we need! That is your lesson… Here’s the outline for the teaching bit:
- Iron Man 3 rocked!
- Metamorphosis theme
- Bad guy metamorphosis (tell the story of Cain, Saul, or David)
- Iron Man metamorphosis (Biblical concept of transformation i.e. 2 Cor 5:17)
- Basically… let’s all go be Iron Man
Now for the discussion questions:
- If you could be any superhero, who would it be?
- What makes us want to be different than we are?
- Tell the story of a hard time, something that really hurt, that you needed a little protection (like a cocoon) to heal from it.
- Have you ever seen someone change into something bad over time? What happened?
- What do you think is God’s reason for making Jesus’ transformation imperfect? Why do we keep sinning?
- How do you try to keep being transformed bit by bit?
Jeremy Steele has been working in youth ministry for the past sixteen years and now serves as the Next Generation Minister at Christ United Methodist Church in Mobile, AL. He writes for Group Magazine, RETHINK Church and various publications and organizations. You can find a link to all the places he contributes on his website at JeremyWords.com.
Follow him on twitter: twitter.com/unpretending