“Iron Man” as 9/11 Literature

I originally wrote this quick review on the night that I saw “Iron Man” (way back in 2008), but I figure I’ll see the sequel soon, so we’ll see if some theories on 9/11 Literature are furthered…

What’s great and interesting about “Iron Man” is that it marks a cultural turning point. We’ve snapped. For the last seven years, post 9/11, we’ve been creating action movies that are all about patriotism (Spider-Man), conquering adversity (World Trade Center), and nabbing terrorists as they sneak around the United States (name your film). We’ve also been flooded with movies that represent “Pure Good” vs. “Pure Evil,” most of them fantasy movies that serve as wishful thinking metaphors for our ongoing War on Terror (Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia). But until “Iron Man,” we’ve never made a movie that flat-out says, “Let’s just go kill a bunch of terrorists in their own country!” Sure, we’ve had a lot of Iraq-Afghanistan movies, but most of them have been super-political, and based completely in our real world (“Lions For Lambs,” “Stop-Loss,” “Over There,” etc.).

“Iron Man,” though, is like an American fantasy. A single guy, rich beyond belief, creates the ultimate weapon, and just flies over to Afghanistan and blows the shit out of some terrorists. No danger to the U.S. No negotiations. No innocents killed. In a cultural climate where our own Iraq war is stalemated, where gas prices are rising and recession is beginning, we’ve simply snapped, and we want to believe that all can be better, and the evil-doers will pay, and it can happen quickly, easily, all to a hard rock soundtrack.

I got no problem with this fantasy. Just like “Spider-Man,” “Iron Man” is the right superhero for the moment, and it’s a very cathartic experience to view while you’re frustrated and pissed off with the economy and the state of world affairs.


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