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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Iron Man 3

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


A a scene from the movie "Iron Man 3."
Given that his first appearance in print dates back to 1963, the comics-based superhero of "Iron Man 3" (Disney) may be said to be turning 50 this year. Perhaps a midlife crisis is to blame for the lack of freshness and charm that mark the latest addition to this blockbuster screen franchise -- or perhaps other factors are at fault.

Certainly, the personal advancement that could previously be traced in Iron Man's alter ego and inventor -- billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) -- has in some respects stalled.

As opening flashbacks to 1999 remind us, Stark was once a booze-swilling, commitment-free playboy. Then his assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) won his heart. Yet, while their relationship, cemented in the first sequel, continues to be exclusive, the two are now shown to be living together without benefit of City Hall or clergy.

The latest strain on their yet-to-be-hallowed union arises when Stark's reckless battle with a mysterious, bin Laden-like terrorist known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) endangers Pepper's life and sends Stark himself into temporary exile.

The anxiety attacks Stark begins to experience while on the lam -- partly inspired by events recounted in "Marvels' The Avengers" (2012) -- leave him questioning his gadgetry-dependent persona as Iron Man. This introduces one of the few substantive themes that director Shane Black's film -- which he co-wrote with Drew Pearce -- tarries to explore. Namely, the range of moral and immoral uses to which advanced technology can be turned.

Similar ethical ambiguities can be seen at work in the lives of two promising scientists gone bad: Stark's long-ago girlfriend of one night's standing, biochemist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), and lab-nerd-turned-ladies'-man Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). These two, it turns out, are somehow in cahoots with the Mandarin, though just what they're up to is not initially made clear.

Like the touching friendship Stark strikes up with a bullied schoolboy (Ty Simpkins) while on the run, the brief examination of serious issues his newly developed sense of panic initiates gets muscled out of view by serial gunplay and explosions.

So where does it all lead? Why, to the highly flammable deck of an oil tanker, of course.

The film contains much action violence with some gore, cohabitation, an off-screen nonmarital sexual encounter, at least one use of profanity and occasional crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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