The US Congress is now trying to seize Stark’s Iron Man, the most powerful example of his wisdom. But it’s his property & the people like him. So we see the dashing Tony Stark humiliate some Senators to media applause. Defying authority is rather American… In democracy, the young can beat the old. Indeed, Stark rises above the laws by his power!
Iron Man changes the relation between citizens & government. Science may have repealed the Second Amendment. We strangely assume scientific power likes or obeys us. But when bombs start exploding, citizenship ceases to matter. Science may have made us hostages to the government. But does it protect us from foreign enemies at least? Stark calls his weapon a prosthetic. – We usually use the word in relation to mutilations… – A prosthetic is an addition, presumably good. Stark avoids mentioning that his addition is warlike…
Scientific power is the movie’s theme, for good & evil both. It is therefore a story about the power of chance, the most obvious limit of science. The story hinges on two sons of two crafty fathers being similarly crafty. One received his father’s education. The other his father’s wherewithal. Stark calls Stark his greatest creation. Thus he learns science is our form of prophecy.
The city of the future envisioned by Stark Sr. shows all technology has to offer. Power is peaceful & leads to progress in this dream. Stark Jr. builds it as a model. His enemy destroys it. Stark describes the dream, addressing politicians, the press, & the people: I have successfully privatized world peace. – No more public life, politics, war, different opinions, fundamental limits to human power…
Stark’s urgent problem is that he’s dying. Immoderation or imprudence did it. The man atop the new science confronts his mortality. Advertising lied: Chance has not been conquered. His science & popularity cannot help him here. His recourse therefore is patriotism. He first makes the woman his CEO & the CEO a housewife. He then remembers his dead father, whose work he continues & whose designs he comes to understand. Finally, he comes to obey the politicians. Fortunately, his father’s enemies are his country’s enemies & his only friend is a soldier.
Stark Sr. was an American patriot who fought communism. He & his age knew right & wrong, us & them, victory & defeat. He was an inventor, the maker of the new science. – Our new villain is an angry brute, but incredibly intelligent, like his father before him. This suggests that the end of the Cold War is not the end of war as such. Enemies again arise; again, they must be fought. Because evil is as natural as family.
For fans of Robert Downey Jr. or superheroes