Maybe you believe in Jesus, maybe you don’t. I’m one of the believer people, but even if I weren’t a Christian I would still love Christ figures in literature. From Carlisle Cullen to Katniss Everdeen, these guys crop up everywhere.
I will talk about that, but first, a short story.
Church. Sunday. Adult Bible study is boring. Really boring. On a spontaneous whim I led my sisters downstairs and hosted a private Sunday School, the lesson I called “Jesus vs. The Avengers.” Later, my sister would ask to be included among the Avengers, and I agreed. By checking off criteria shared between the Avengers, Jesus, and my sister, we were able to decide that Jesus was Jesus, my sister was the least like Jesus and Iron Man/Tony Stark was the most like Jesus.
“What? But all he wants are girls and booze!”
Doesn’t matter. Despite being a very rich sinner, Iron Man also happens to display several different qualities of a Christ figure within the Marvel universe.
[Editor’s Note: I am not a hardcore Marvel fan. I’ve just seen the movies. I’ve done a little bit of research. But that’s all. Please do not be offended.]
he sacrificed himself—Look at The Avengers, there’s a nuke coming for New York and Iron Man is taking care of it. He took on that responsibility knowing he might not make it back out. But he did. And New York was saved.
he came back from the dead—Tony Stark fell out of the sky, and Hulk got him, and put him on the ground, and they thought he was dead. But Hulk was having none of that, so never mind.
builder—Jesus was a carpenter. Tony builds suits. Their primary focus is not doing those things—there is a world to save, after all, but the tool belt remains. They fix more than situations; they fix things, too.
tempted—Tony gets tempted all the time. He even succumbs all the time. But, interestingly enough, when it comes to his “devils,” namely people like Obadiah Stone, Justin Hammer, and Aldrich Killian, Tony resists their evil business plans and sad excuses for morals.
betrayed—Obadiah Stone, Hawkeye, Maya Hansen, the Vice President… There’s a lot of betrayal going on. Maybe there isn’t a specific “Judas” Tony has to deal with, but he’s certainly had a lot of people turn his back on him.
persecution—Maybe “persecution” is something of a strong word, but regardless, Tony does face a lot of criticism. People try to deter him. And people try to kill him. Some days I imagine it sucks to be Tony.
miracles—Tony always has a new suit. Somewhere. And even if he doesn’t have a suit, then he can make bombs out of Christmas ornaments. Where there was lawn care supplies there is now destruction—that sounds miraculous to me.
compassion—His love is not universal, but when it comes to people he really cares about—Pepper, Happy, Coulson—he will do what he can to make things right again. He really does care. And maybe his love is unorthodox, but it exists.
takes after his father—Tony is walking in Howard’s footsteps. This is especially apparent in Iron Man 2, but it’s clear that he’s still in the family business, and for the better.
values justice—Even though he almost got rejected from the Avengers, Tony still has a present sense of right and wrong, even if it doesn’t match up with everyone else’s.
doesn’t dress like Thor—Okay, my sisters and I were being silly. But, if you take Steve’s word for it, God doesn’t dress like Thor. Neither does Tony.
There you go. Tony Stark, the Christ figure. For the record, Captain America and Thor were right behind him, so perhaps I’ll follow through with them sometime. In the meantime, peace out.