We make our own demons

May 13, 2013 on 6:52 pm | In daily life, disability, entertainment, ethics, medical ethics | 1 Comment

For Mother’s Day, Mr. Random Thoughts, Youngest Son and I went to the cinema to see Iron Man 3.

Yes, I do realize that I am decidedly not in the demographic at which that movie is aimed. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I find Robert Downey Jr.’s acting delightfully entertaining. I remember seeing him in Chaplin, and thinking that he was one very talented actor. For a time though, it seemed his personal demons would destroy him.  Watching his work now, knowing that he came to his senses before completely destroying himself, and  has crafted a healthy, creative life out of the ruins of his past. adds even more pleasure to viewing his work. His kind of personal triumph is so very, very rare in Hollywood. He has a self-depreciating wit in both his Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man roles that appeals to me.

And the special effects in the Iron Man movies are awesome.

So yes, I enjoyed Iron Man 3 as much as I have its two predecessors.

I tend to read more into entertainment though than is probably there. Blame it on far too much time spent analyzing literature. I can’t just watch a movie, and come away with “Wow, cool!” No, I have to find themes and elements and–no doubt completely apart from anything the scriptwriters or actors or directors or film editors intended–I have to find meaning in what I watch.

As we walked out of the cinema after sitting through every last second of the end credits (do not tell me you don’t; do you have any idea of the little gems you miss by leaving as soon as the credits begin to roll?!) I was caught up in contemplating the concept of medical research, and at what cost will one seek healing?

To me at least, that was one of the basic themes of Iron Man 3.

*Possible Spoiler Alert*

The real villain of the movie is a man who seeks to develop and market a beyond-cutting-edge medical technology that will regenerate lost limbs and heal all injuries. That the cost of this process is other peoples’ lives is irrelevant to him. He enlists the help of injured war veterans, and even a politician whose beloved granddaughter is confined to a wheelchair. All of these people willingly cooperate, willingly risk themselves and sacrifice others in the hopes that their body or the body of their dearly loved relative will be made whole once again.

How relevant is that?

What will we do to cure diseases like Alzheimers, or Parkinsons, or find a cure for damaged nerves?

I ask myself the hard question, what would I do?

What would I do if someone offered me a cure for Eldest Daughter’s Spina Bifida? If she could be freed from the internal and external limitations it puts upon her? Would I consider the ethical cost?

I’d like to think that I’d be able to give the same answer that Tony Stark did.

Toward the end of the film, Iron Man/Tony Stark confronts his enemy Aldrich Killian (actor Guy Pearce), who has attempted to inject Tony’s love, Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), with the formula to reprogram her DNA and render her invulnerable to injury or disease.

Killian says to Tony, “I could have made her perfect.”

Tony responds (and I think this is the best line of the entire movie), “See, that’s where you’re wrong. She already was perfect.”

That is an incredibly powerful message.

Can we accept the concept that we are perfect, even if we are a quadraplegic in a wheelchair, or completely without limbs at all? That we are exactly as we are meant to be, apparent physical–or intellectual–flaws and all?

Or should we reject what we’ve been given, and strive to fix it, to improve it, no matter what the cost?

Yes, I think too much when I probably ought to just enjoy the ride. Still, I don’t believe Iron Man 3‘s filmmakers were stupid, or blind to what they were saying. Maybe, just maybe, amidst the explosions and cool sky diving stunts, they slipped in a little substance.

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  1. I like that Iron Man 3 had substance and a real story behind all the special effects. And you’re right — you gotta stay until the end of the credits for Marvel movies!

    Interestingly, Star Trek Into Darkness had some real meat to it, too. Hubby and I are actually planning to see that one again (in part so we can take his mom to it).


    Comment by crosscribe — May 22, 2013 #

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