In the end, Tony Stark decides that the iron man armor was really a cocoon. Hindsight is blessed: This would seem to mean that the necessity under which he labored has been removed from him. That necessity we may call the ambiguity of science, which created both the bullets trying to kill him & his defenses against them. His heart is relieved from this continuous struggle. This story teaches us the price of that relief.
In the beginning, we learn Stark suffers from panic attacks. He knows the cause: He has seen aliens & gods fight around New York, treating humans like worthless vermin. These astounding powers make him fear death. He cannot sleep, because sleep takes away his powers, & then his fears return. He marshals scientific armies to defend himself. His newest invention is an armor that will move to him whenever he needs it. One night, the woman tries to comfort his nightmares, but the armor attacks her.
By one of those happy coincidences, such as the great scientific advances we have inherited by surviving the wars of the last century, there is a very evil man whose life purpose will help Stark. This man also confronted fear of death; he has also considered man’s brain, his reason, his science, to hold the solution. But he does not tinker with iron. He wants to prevent fear of death by making man immortal.
We learn two things about immortality. First, it is not so much a matter of invulnerability as infinite endurance. Man will hurt & then regenerate. Secondly, the power to withstand death transforms human beings into bombs. This would be comic, except for the obvious problem. It is one of those jokes – people see the explosions & are quick to blame terrorism. Because they’re afraid, they get the terror.
Well, science may be said to be led by the motto: You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. Stark & his daring enemy both have the omelet to show for their effort. Mankind are understandably cautious… Stark deals with fear by allowing people to mock him & by being patriotic. The other guy is just anonymous, he gives people frightening stories behind which he hides his banal scientific ambition.
There is an arresting scene, the American president in one of these armors. It was called War Machine – the warrior still uses that name – but it’s now called the Iron Patriot: Less aggressive. This reminds us that war has no country; to correct the problem, the armor is painted red, white, & blue. Does the uniform make the patriot? Stark does not like the name; science makes him think of man as man, not man as patriot.
The first blockbuster of the year, yet another fantastically worldwide popular story