"Totally coup, yo."

Iron Rand 2




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.

Ayn sez: "Why buy what you can take?"Ayn sez: “Why buy what you can take?”

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.


  • Larry

    If it is a children’s movie it is a fantastc one. If kids today need to learn anything, it is to tell the Fed (played by Gary Shandling) to take a hike when they demand you hand over your intellectual proerty.

    Yes Tony Stark was obviously screwing everyone over in that movie, certainly no one benefitted from him, it was all me – me – me.

  • Biff Squat-thrust

    Well, I was going to comment that you are just quoting some out-there parties’ *interpretation* of Ayn Rand’s objectivist views and that you, like them, have probably never read any of her books–but you did it for me later on. Rand is one of those writers whose works continually go through alternating periods of worship and vitriol from the public. It is unfortunate that a handful of semi-literate boobs like Greenspan and Friedman have taken a few lines out of a Cliff’s notes version of “Atlas Shrugged” and twisted them to their own ends, because now thousands of others who have never read Rand’s works are jumping on the bandwagon.

    Oh, and that movie did suck.

  • http://radicalposture.com Michael Caigoy

    Hey, Biff. In my defense I have picked up “Atlas Shrugged” in a library before to see what all the fuss was about. I hadn’t yet developed any opinion of her work. I’ve never read through any of her books, as in finished them, but I have read some; and found myself so stultified by her style (stiff even for a Russian), that I didn’t bother checking it out. I think I read Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We” instead.

    I’ve also checked out her philosophy, and her use of logic is flawed. She mistakes establishing internal consistency with determining facts. “A is A” is a valid symbolic tautology, but nothing is “A” in the real world. I think Wittgenstein covered that. She was also literal in her interpretation of self-interest as a modus operandi. She practiced what she preached, as well as anyone could, and built a kind of cult that had to buy into her inane rules. I much prefer the poetic metaphors of Nietzsche, whose struggle was largely an internal one; such as abandoning the pretenses of morality, reconciling oneself with the realities of one’s intentions. He didn’t practice the oversimplified interpretations people — like Rand, or Leopold and Loeb — often cherry pick from his work.

    She was a megalomaniac, and dishonest; claiming that her only influence was Aristotle, when she was clearly squatting in the house Nietzsche built. Anyway, yeah, I don’t really judge her as a novelist beyond being boring and clumsy in her words.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  • Ozinator

    Good review
    Please also tackle the new Robin Hood because I understand Mr. Hood instead of Robbing from the rich and giving to the poor is a Tea Bagger…Problem though is the reviewers I got this from are “pussies” like you mention here and only allude to it. I certainly don’t want to go watch the shit so thanks for doing this to yourself!

  • http://radicalposture.com Michael Caigoy

    Ozinator: You got it. “Robin Hood” it is.

    scrilly: Fair enough. My cliff notes awareness of Rand’s work is a consideration, even if our conclusions remain similar.

    If only I knew a means to convince the conservative rabble that they’ve already had their way for the past thirty years. But they just keep crying (and I do mean crying) “socialism!” But, I suppose they have as much interest in reading about (or even becoming dimly familiar with) socialist policies, as I do in Rand’s technocrat romance novels.

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