One of the many lessons people learn in life is: Does humanity make its possessions and things that give it power or does it shape them? This lesson is made prominent among many others in the first installment of Phase Two in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man 3. It is the primary lesson of the film as after Aldrich Killian, AIM CEO and the film’s main antagonist, destroys Tony Stark’s personal life and home, he is left with a malfunctioning and nearly broken suit for most of the film. However, Stark is able to adapt and wage war against Aldrich Killian, the man responsible, through using his ingenuity and intelligence, whether it be starting a fire to stop Killian’s henchwoman Ellen Brandt or using hardware supplies to make weapons to assault Killian’s mansion, among other things. Stark also learns to rely on other people, most importantly kid mechanic Harley Keener who helps fix his suit. This reflects on how the world created its own forms of entertainment such as virtual platform concerts and conventions after COVID-19 shut down everything, reflecting humanity adapting to situations that are beyond their control. By the end of the movie Stark realizes:
“My armor was never a distraction or a hobby, it was a cocoon, and now I’m a changed man. You can take away my house, all my tricks and toys, but one thing you can’t take away – I am Iron Man.”
This leads into the next major lesson of Iron Man 3, that sometimes we create our own demons. This is important because at the beginning of the movie, Stark’s focus on Extremis at a New Year’s Eve party led Aldrich Killian down a path of villainy, even going so far as getting infused with Extremis and becoming no longer deformed or disabled, but also becoming more arrogant as well as psychotic. To that end he comes up with a master plot to own the war on terror by experimenting with Extremis on other people and creating an anonymous figure known as the Mandarin who claims responsibility for the failed experiments in the form of terrorist attacks. His descent into villainy and desire for revenge on Stark is explained in this dialogue:
Sometimes by rejecting or ignoring other people and making mistakes, they come back to ruin us. This serves as a prominent theme over Stark’s journey in the franchise as it was his own negligence in making weapons that caused him to stop making them and use his suit as a force of good. In the real world, we have created “our own demons” by covering up military casualties in events such as bomb strikes, not acting with enough momentum and action to stop tragic events like school shootings or bombings, or accidentally allowing harmful chemicals to create incidents such as nuclear meltdowns or oil spills
Finally a major real world lesson that is integral in Iron Man 3 is PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder. This is important because following his near death experience in The Avengers, Stark becomes more focused on building suits because of his fear that the world will be destroyed. This drives him more and more away from his girlfriend Pepper Potts and causes him to act more erratic in public. This one line defines it perfectly: “Nothing’s Been The Same Since New York.”
Overall, despite its flaws, Iron Man 3 has many great lessons that are commonly shown in real life. However the three most essential ones include that we sometimes have to rely on ourselves and not our possessions and the things we take for granted, creating our own problems, and PTSD. These are important because in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which was caused by inaction early on, we had to adapt when everything was shut down and we couldn’t do the things we normally did in quarantine and with restrictions. Many people also got PTSD, whether it be from death of a loved one, losing their job, and other circumstances. However, like Iron Man 3, the pandemic showed people we had the power to fix our mistakes and prevent anymore tragedies like that while also teaching them how to think outside the box and make their own fun when COVID shut down the world.