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This issue has been escalated by technological and economic change. The jobs today have changed exponentially, leaving many questions about whether job advancements are even purposeful to our future. Technology has changed everything; social structures and even our capabilities. Since the release of ‘Terminator’ in the 80s, our generation has embodied the fear of what machines may do to us, and that technology may have already swallowed us without an escape.

This has already happened to some people. Social networks were dead until Facebook came up with a way to link phones to our own hands, always ready to react or respond to the next viral post. And so, distracted from our society, caught up in the virus-spreading machines, many of us exist as consumers, not creators, reactors not drivers of change. This is what our society faces today, but this isn’t quite the problem faced by Tony Stark.

On the surface, it would seem that Tony’s problems are opposite to the crisis. He was at the peak of achievement and power, and just when he could go no further, he turned himself into a superhero.

However, it was these responsibilities that caused him to crack. He handled them quite capably, but the better he did, the more the pressure built up on his chest. The more problems he solved, the larger the problems he faced, until one enemy took him off the edge, leaving him shaken and unstable. He had taken on the responsibilities, more so handed the responsibility of protecting the world, only to find his view of the world ripped apart. Left without feeling at ease, he retreated to the only thing he still controlled: his robotic exoskeleton.

This is where ‘Iron Man 3’ begins. Tony is suffering from panic attacks, an inability to sleep without nightmares, and developing PTSD. He hides from his issues by building robotic suits in excess in his basement, constantly tinkering, withdrawing from society, and building an iron curtain between himself and everything else.

This was represented in the film, with the use of a close-up shot. When Tony was questioned about how he defeated the aliens, this triggered a severe anxiety attack, and instead of dealing with it, he ran to his suit to hide from the public. The close-up shot assisted the audience to discover this panic attack by capturing the development of his lack of breath, pulsating eyes, and the lack of surroundings. This scene is important to the significance of the film because it allows the audience to connect to the actor feeling the same social issues as displayed, connecting the movie to society. This use of a close-up camera shot puts the audience in a position to discover the true reality of self-discovery and how anxiety is used as a curtain hiding yourself from the truth, and society.

This isn’t far from the social issues many of us face. After all, it’s not conventional that careers and achievements are falsely advertised, and we haven’t been swallowed by our own technological world. It’s that we have been given unreal dreams, and instructions to fill them, like Tony Stark.

We can’t forget about our dreams, however after experiencing the other side, we cannot proceed with them.

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This is the dilemma Tony faces. He cannot leave his role as protector of mankind. But he has witnessed enough to know that this role is too much for a single person. And so, he’s stuck, unable to function, caught in the middle of an anxiety-inducing storm.

This movie, ‘Iron Man 3’ tackles the social issue then: Who is Iron Man?

The answer is far from clear. Is it the suit? Or the man who wears the suit? Or is it the all-powerful role he must play?

It is only when banished from his home, his technological weapons, and his life. Out in the middle of rural Tennessee in the dead of Winter, he finally found the answer. This came from a young boy’s confusion as to who Tony Stark is.

“You’re the mechanic, right?”

This is the turning point, revealing everything. Tony’s all-powerful role dissipates, along with his chronic anxiety. He is no longer the hero, the one who must save the world — he is simply a man who knows how to build things. But in building things, there is hope. Because this is what defines him. This is what he is made for; to build and to construct. He isn’t a role, a suit, or even technology. He is the mechanic.

And this is where Iron Man stands out and truly represents the social issue. It doesn’t just answer our identity crisis. Instead, it turns around and gives us something back. Unlike so many stories that glorify the act of abandonment, Iron Man gives us a glimpse of what happens after you leave. You begin to build.

Now known with this new revelation, Tony can let his suits go. He is not defined by them, and he does not need to hide. However, he isn’t rejecting his past. He’s not defined by what he has built, but he is defined by the process of building. If you take everything he has and put him in the wild, he will begin to build from the ground up. He, after all, is a human being, and technology emerges as naturally from us as honey does from bees. He is not defined by his technology, but he cannot be defined apart from the act of creation.

Now with his tools in hand, freed from the anxiety can function as a tool. He can solve the only remaining issue, his heart, he can use technology more directly and more powerfully than ever before. 

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