Tony sees the post-it labeled “from Pepper” and removes it from the package to which it’s attached. Curious he rips off the brown paper and lifts up the glas display case to inspect the Mark I chest piece Pepper has had professionally displayed. A smile flashes across Tony’s face as he reads the inscription around the chest piece – “Proof That Tony Stark Has A Heart”.
This scene comes around the middle of Iron Man and if you’ve seen the film you’re familiar with it. As I view Jon Favreau’s film I love the story of Tony Stark more and more because he’s a character that not only develops a conscious, but he develops a heart – a heart for the people that are hurting and a world that he thinks he’s helped be the cause of. In several significant scenes, like the one I described above, Favreau and writers actually wrote this directly into the film and slowly but surely the chest piece becomes not the power generator helping to keep Tony alive, but symbolic of his heart.
I’ve probably lost a lot of people that didn’t enjoy breaking down literature in class, or didn’t go to film school. Bear with me, I can prove it I promise. Hades, if I was still in school I could write an entire paper on the symbology of the chest piece and get a few pages out of it but this blog will not be that long or detailed.
If you want more examples why I think the chest piece is the heart of Tony Stark I can point you right back to more scenes in Iron Man. We can start with early in the film when he’s being held captive by the Ten Rings. Yensin has made a primitive form of the chest piece, hooked up to a car battery; Tony is hopeless and his world is being shattered and Yensin is literally trying to pour into Tony some of his hope and beliefs, but it’s borrowed from Yensin and Tony isn’t grasping the possibility of hope as he drags around that clunky battery. However, when Yensin finally breaks through to Tony, finally convinces him that he has a chance and can fight, that’s the first time Tony sees a chance to change what these terrorists are doing in his name, and he responds by building the Mark I chest piece and replacing Yensin’s battery with something he has created – the sparks of a plan, the start of hope.
The only other scene I’ll bring up here is a scene near the end of the film, when Tony is attacked and his Mark III chest piece is stolen, literally ripped out of his chest. This sends Tony into a spiral because not only will this removal physically disable him, but he finally learns the identity and true nature of his enemy and this emotionally cripples him as well. In order to bounce back from this “broken heart” Tony has to push past it and remember his original mission to do more good than harm and protect the people, and he literally has to retrieve the Mark I chest piece in order to save the day.
One of the reasons I love Iron Man is that it’s a movie that’s not just a summber blockbuster, or a big budget popcorn flick. This is a film that tool the time to be well rounded in all areas, the most important of which is to make sure they had a good story and a character as dynamic and interesting as his existing fans know he is and new fans would want him to be.
Iron Man is one of my favorite films of the last decade and I again implore you to see it if you have been living in a bubble and missed it.