May 21st, 2010
|02:36 pm - Iron Man II – Not A Hero|
I saw Iron Man II over the weekend, and while it was much fun, it was also a somewhat odd film. The fun was obvious – Scarlett Johansson did a good job as Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson was born to play Nick Fury, and both Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow were quite good. Most of the film was utter fluff where people fighting in metal suits were interspersed with various character interactions.
However, there was a consistent thread about ownership and property rights. The US government (unsurprisingly) wants the Iron Man suit, and Tony Stark's only solid answer or justification as to why he doesn't want to give it up is that it's his and so he should get to decide what happens to it. However, the main reason the suit works (and, as we saw from the last film, by far the single most valuable piece of it) is the miniature arc reactor that he build, based on the huge arc reactor that his father originally designed. Then, we find out that the villain's father claims that it was stolen from him and that the villain's father originally designed the arc reactor with Tony Stark's father. The villain's father was then deported for supposedly selling secrets to the Russians. There's no hint if this is true or if (as seems equally possible) that Tony Stark's father had him deported so as not to share ownership of the arc reactor with anyone.
So, we have Tony Stark claiming ownership of the arc reactor in part because he inherited it from his father, when there's no clear evidence that his father didn't (at least in part) steal the design from someone. In short, Tony Stark owns the arc reactor and the Iron Man suit solely because he's a rich white guy whose dad stole it, and Tony Stark is rich and powerful enough to keep it. I look at the way that Tony Stark is portrayed is brilliant, charismatic, but also undeniably selfish, self-involved, and occasionally quite petty, and wonder if all this was deliberate, in which case we have a film where the "hero" is powerful and saves the day, but is also most definitely not in the right and his sole claim to the Iron Man suit is that he's powerful enough to hold onto it.
Current Mood: geeky
And you didn't notice this in the first movie?
Well...yeah. Which might be why Fury decides SHIELD want the suit but not the dickhead who built it, right?
Not that I disagree all that much, but Tony did seem to do genuine breakthrough work in making miniaturized versions of the reactor. And of course all the other systems for the suit would be ridiculously complex for a single man to put together. Aside from the thrusters, there'd have to be any number of genius moments to make the armor.
Of course Tony seems to have the ability to put research breakthroughs together on the cheap: "I need to synthesize a super-heavy atom? Sure, I have the weekend and the basement free."
I think the movies capture the essence of the Tony Stark from the comics: he's a jerk, who's born into privilege, and has a drinking problem.
Bingo. This is one reason why atrata
's fabulous Iron Man fanfic, Almost No One Makes It Out
, took fandom by storm recently - it's an examination of what Tony's life might have been like had he not been born into wealth. It's pretty nifty.
(Edited to fix URL.)Edited at 2010-05-22 07:54 am (UTC)
::likes this fic, and doesn't like many::
I think your overall picture is consistent with his character. Tony Stark is someone who tries to do the right thing, within the very real and self-identified limitations of his own selfishness. Hence, heroism is in some ways easier for him than day-to-day decency, because it gives him a rush of accomplishment and extinguishes the nagging of his thoughts. Bruce Wayne is really Batman, but of course Iron Man is really Tony Stark.
It's also worth noting that Tony is both pro-capitalist and pragmatist, and hence can believe, without contradiction, in both property and inheritence rights and also in the rightness of settling certain issues de facto. He was based on Howard Hughes, originally, and in the interim has acquired his own sort of quasi-Randian style.