Tony Stark: Capitalist Übermensch
By Ellsworth Toohey Michael Caigoy
Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Hank Rearden Tony Stark, the brilliant entrepreneur who single-handedly invents a new steel alloy power source, leading to the creation of collectivist teapots the Iron Man suit.
This is a stupid, stupid movie.
I never got into over the top comic fantasy when I was a kid, so I can’t compare this to the source material. If you think that discredits my review of this movie, you’re entitled.*
Without much ado, this flick drifts rapidly into the realm of distracting absurdity. It tried my suspension of disbelief to see Stark, a CEO, capable of actually making something. Other than CO2. His nemesis in the film, Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko, is apparently capable of machining sophisticated equipment in my uncle’s garage/workshop; while Stark can assemble a particle accelerator (or high powered laser, or whatever the hell it was), by himself, out of drain pipe. I guess with enough welding montages, you can do anything. Mr. Stark also decided to replace the circular glowing thing in his chest with a bright gay pride symbol (not that there’s anything wrong, etc.)
I don’t know many libertarian objectivist types, but I’ve looked up online reviews, and I wasn’t the first to spot parallels between the philosophical underpinnings of this film, and Ayn Rand’s protracted temper tantrums against reciprocity. Some authors point to the similarities, but are too enervated by academic objectivity (pussies) to have an opinion. A few objectivists reviewed it, and they generally identify Iron Man as a Randian ideal of the selfish superhero. You get a sense of their vindication at seeing this mainstream crossover. The only thing to be done for it is to shriek into their faces, “This is a fucking children’s movie!”
You can tell it’s a children’s movie by the battle sequences. Toward the end, Vanko is sending squads of remote controlled robots to fight Iron Man and War Machine (a sidekick played by Don Cheadle). Tear-assing through densely populated areas, firing large caliber machine guns, crashing through walls, there’s no collateral damage. While the two (what’s) good (for me is good for you) guys are trading magical, non-civilian-hitting rounds with robots, Mickey Rourke is controlling said bots from a room nowhere near any of this. The net result is several minutes of Rourke staring into a screen, tapping away at a keyboard, and reacting to blips on screen. Add Mountain Dew and despair to the mix, and you’ve got the typical anarcho-libertarian on a Friday night. Blink, and you miss the apocalyptic battle with Vanko — when he finally decides to get off his ass. It was more of a disappointment than Nathan Blumenthal to his parents.
The theme that permeates Iron Man 2 is benevolent self-interest. If you’re wondering what that means, look at what lead to the financial collapse, read up on Trickle Down Economics, Milton Friedman, Thomas Friedman (anyone named Friedman), Alan Greenspan, and our lantern-jawed, diastemic heroin, Ayn Rand. As a collectivist looter, I never understood why self-interest should reconcile with benevolence. If you don’t care about helping anyone directly, then why bother explaining how you benefit them indirectly? Oh ho, you might say, because it benefits you more if they think that. They’ll be more willing to help your selfish ass get what you want. Why half-ass it? Just tell them you are benefitting them directly, indirectly, and every other which way. Then unrepentantly fuck them over the entire time. That’s what sociopaths do. They’re remarkably successful at duping people in America; which tells you something about our culture. It also says something about Rand, since it’s surfaced that her ideal of manhood was child-killer William Hickman — known for dismembering a nine year-old girl, propping up her torso in his car for a ransom exchange, and finally flinging her limbs onto the road in front of the victim’s dad.
Given this revelation, I’d have put The Fountainhead back to work holding the door open, but the maroons in this country possess a heroic degree of cognitive dissonance. As with Iron Man in print, I haven’t actually gotten through a Rand novel.
Like I said, I never got into comic fantasy.