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More Iron Man

Lucius Shepard's (lucius_t of theinferior4) review of Iron Man is the fun, cynic's knifing, and I can't disagree with it:

Tony Stark is every adolescent male’s wet dream: a billionaire genius gearhead who makes cool weapons, drives cars with names that end in i, and gets babe after ungettable babe, so many of them he can’t remember them a week later. Then one day after blowing up half a mountain range while demonstrating a powerful new missile in Afghanistan, he sees US soldiers shot to pieces by Stark Industries weapons and is captured by forces led by the menacing Raza (Faran Tahir, soon to be seen in Star Trek), who directs Stark to build missiles for him in the terrorists’ underground hide-out. Stark pretends to comply, but with the aid of a fellow captive he builds instead a prototype of the Iron Man armor and crashes out, returning to the States where he’s reunited with his Lamborghinis; his aide, Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow); and his partner in crime, Obadiah Stane (a bald, bearded, and slightly porcine Jeff Bridges). This sequence, culminating with Stark donning a sexier version of the Iron Man armor and returning to Afghanistan to wreak vengeance on Raza and put on display his newly developed conscience regarding the scummy nature of his business, is admittedly entertaining—you’re carried along by a mix of snappy one-liners and action, and given no time to think. But once Stark becomes a force for good and the real villain of the piece is “revealed,” the momentum of the picture begins to dissipate.


There’s a reason for that. People love these movies because they illuminate the myths of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Oh, please! They aren’t myths. They’re wish-fulfillment fantasies for fourteen-year-olds . . . and primitively mounted ones at that. Then again, maybe you’re right. It’s a desperate age we live in, with a devalued intellectual currency. Maybe these are all the myths we’ve got . . . or the only myth, because they all tell the same basic story and have the same underlying purpose, to make the real world go away.

Linked that last bit just for you, Grant (angriest), to inspire you on thesis of Superheroes as the 20th Century Myth, which I expect to be seeing and arguing with soon.



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May. 8th, 2008 03:20 am (UTC)
Can they not be both wish fulfilment and modern myth at the same time?

I actually wrote a thesis that was partially on superheroes and mythology, in a Barthesian sense, back in 1998. No really, I actually did.

Heh heh. You're listening to Missy Higgins.
May. 8th, 2008 03:30 am (UTC)
yeah, go figure with the missy higgins, huh? the lite tori amos.

anyhow, i reckon myth has to do a whole lot more than anything that is done by superheroes. it has to point towards the creation of the world/social belief/social structure, and i don't think any superhero illuminates that. mostly, they're reactions to already existing things--and the wish fulfilment comes out of that, imo.
May. 8th, 2008 03:38 am (UTC)
Superman is an easy example to use to illustrate my point, in that he:
(a) is basically Moses,
(b) a constructed symbol of American identity through use of colour, rhetoric and presentation,
(c) the ultimate immigrant. The USA is a nation founded on immigration, and what better symbol of their ideals than an immigrant from the other side of the galaxy who nobly stands for the values that are enshrined in American popular culture?

He's mythic: he's a fictional representation created, either by design or accident, to reflect a facet of American identity and to lead American people to perhaps better understand it - and themselves - as a result.
May. 8th, 2008 03:55 am (UTC)
actually, i would say that superman is jesus, and the attraction to him is that he does all the things people would pray for jesus (or god) to do.

i see where you're getting at with the immigrant part, though, but i'd counter argue (heh) that the superman films have never really delt with that concept. maybe the comics do, but i've never been able to stomach them.
May. 8th, 2008 04:04 am (UTC)
I think the films do, albeit kind of ham-fistedly. The most recent one was in part about Supes relenquishing his Krypton heritage and ultimately accepting Earth as his home. And there's the whole Marlon Brando speech is re-quotes to his son at the end which is all about being a misunderstood stranger in a foreign place, and so on.

So yeah, they do it - just not that well.
May. 8th, 2008 04:16 am (UTC)
see, i reckon that most recent superman film is supes as jesus, and there's heaps of imagery in there that reference the classic jesus stuff.
May. 8th, 2008 04:22 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, they went overboard with the Jesus in the last one.
May. 8th, 2008 01:30 pm (UTC)
You will love The Hero's Fallacy.

If I ever fuckin' finish it.
May. 13th, 2008 03:09 am (UTC)
well, chop chop. see how i replied to see comment so quickly? you need to mirror such dedication ;)
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