Hollywood Gets It Right, Again


Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), our favorite cunning industrialist, is back in top form in Iron Man 2. Just when we think our government can’t lean farther to the Left, Hollywood shows us at least they still know how to get it right on occasion. Now more than ever, the pro-free market, anti-government control concepts in Iron Man 2 are important in our contemporary culture.

The film begins six months later with the oily Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) demanding that Stark hand over his Iron Man weapon to the “proper authorities” (i.e. the government). Stark’s response is simple, “you want my property – you can’t have it!” The Iron Man suit may be a weapon but it is also a clear nuclear deterrent, as Stark defines it. The senator continues to categorize Iron Man out of context in order to push his regulatory agenda.

Iron Man 2 also continues to show the advantages of military innovation, however, the reactor that keeps Stark’s heart beating is now beginning to poison him so he must prepare the company for future success in case of his death. Desperate measures ensue after Stark gives up on trying to fix his heart problem and appoints Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) as CEO of the company. The government is not giving up on trying to once again gain control of national defense. Therefore, Stark wants to make sure he has someone he trusts at the helm of Stark Industries in the event of his untimely death.

The government is not the only problem; however, Hammer Industries’ flaky front man Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) exploits the government’s interest in his company in order to plot against Stark’s reputation. The government’s obsession with controlling Stark rendered them helpless to the villainous Russian Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) who was hired to invent a weapon that would trump Iron Man. Vanko’s only motive was to kill Stark with no concern for possible collateral damage.

As expected, it is the strong-willed, intelligent capitalist that built Iron Man who comes to the rescue and once again keeps America safe from not only its own government but also its enemies overseas. Stark remains a patriot in the truest sense and knows he holds the key to keeping America safe. Instead of trying to save himself, he puts his focus on saving the country and in turn his company from destructive government control, a notion that any small government supporter can appreciate.

It is no secret that the Iron Man character is conservative, creator Stan Lee discusses him in the DVD commentary of the first film:

“It was the height of the Cold War. The readers – the young readers – if there was one thing they hated it was war, it was the military, or, as Eisenhower called it, the military-industrial complex. So I got a hero who represented that to the hundredth degree. He was a weapons manufacturer. He was providing weapons for the army. He was rich. He was an industrialist. But he was good-looking guy and he was courageous… I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like – that none of our readers would like – and shove him down their throats and make them like him.”

Therefore Lee’s intent was to see if he could make conservatism cool and the wild success of the first film would sure tell us that it worked.  Although the Stark character was not without criticism in the first film seeing that he was a bit of a lady-killer. In the sequel, however, he is much more of a social conservative. Stark’s witty and flirtatious ways are still ever present even though is obviously loyal to Pepper in Iron Man 2. Instead of seducing the liberal journalists he avoids them completely.

The media as a whole is pushed aside without remorse in Iron Man 2. Where Stark cared about his image in the first film, he gave up trying to keep a politically correct profile in the sequel and put his full attention towards the future of Stark Industries. There is even a scene where we see Fox News and Bill O’Reilly that doesn’t involve a cheap shot at either of them. We know that the Iron Man films lean right, but it’s difficult to believe the studios let this fly.

Front Page assistant editor David Swindle wrote about the first Iron Man film last year in a piece called Superhero Conservatism:

“Why does the superhero genre bend to right? Quite simply, because the conventions upon which it has been built force such a trajectory. Almost all superhero stories involve a clash between good and evil or order and chaos. The superhero genre acknowledges evil’s existence and the need for it to be opposed, usually with force.”

In Iron Man 2 the enemy is twofold, the primary villain is the U.S. government that is unsuccessfully trying to once again monopolize national defense. Their quest for power left them blind to the motivations of an additional villain, Ivan Vanko, who sought to destroy Stark while proving he could also breach military security in the process. Therefore, showing us that government control is not only unnecessary but it can also be destructive. Instead of attacking America, enemies of the country go after Iron Man because they know they cannot defeat the U.S. with Stark running the show.

The government in the film is reminiscent to the current administration’s continued reckless drive for power and control. The dominant purpose behind health care reform was about control, not the well-being of the American people. This is similar to the way government in the film cares less about national security and more about owning the machine that makes it possible. Iron Man 2 is a useful manifestation of capitalist principles that are ignored by today’s government leaders. The free market will collapse under the weight of big government and Tony Stark knows this better than anyone.

Just like Iron Man, its sequel has all of the elements for a guaranteed commercial success. Acknowledging the fight between good and evil as well as the importance of the free market is something that resonates with many Americans in today’s political climate (and was also proven with the success of the first film). Tony Stark endures as a hip personification of capitalism with his humorous charm and eternal drive for success not to mention interest in national security. Stark Industries has privatized world peace, what could be better?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/The_Inquisitor The_Inquisitor

    Interesting. Thanks for the review.

    Off topic comment:
    I suggest we stop letting the Left dictate our language as in "The dominant purpose behind health care reform was about control, not the well-being of the American people."

    "Health care reform" is a sugar coated way of saying "socialized medicine." Don't help them to make their despicable agenda seem innocuous.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

      I agree, and notice whenever they say 'reform' they mean takeover, and correcting the cause is conspicuously absent from whatever they come up with.

    • Sky Captain

      And neoconservatism is just another way of conducting fascism under a new name and agenda, so it seems.

  • gpcase

    ditto with any financial "reform".

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/georgerekers georgerekers

    with these free market principles the iron man suit will end up in china then in cuba russia , iran , and eventually old osama(remember him?) will be sporting one on the cover of forbes . then you will truely have world peace when everyone has one. enjoy the movie for what it is ….entertainment certainly not a educational primer on capitalism. what an ludicrous review. do you get paid for this?????

    • Carlos

      It's funny how some people are so disillusioned. Say what you want tho cuz it's a free country for now and will be as long as I have a gun. Freedom. Freedom. Freeeeeeeeeeeeedom! I hate people who wanna control other people but disguise it through liberal programs. Stop raising my taxes liberals!!

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/georgerekers georgerekers

        i have a strong gut feeling that you having a gun is not protecting my freedom of speech. the first amendment does that and i strongly suggest that you read it along with the other amendments so that you get a better grasp of reality. don't like what you read then take up arms with your gun buddies and attempt to take over the country. good luck. of course you know you won't because your kind is all talk and no bite.

      • tilgorekrout

        I call a political adaptation of Poe's Law on this– this really sounds like something a person on the left might post if they were trying to make fun of how conservatives sound (I GOT A GUN GUNS = FREEDOM DON'T TAX ME LOL)… but, then again, you never know.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

      I rather imagine that Chris does get paid for it. Jealous?

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/georgerekers georgerekers

        not at all. we live in a free market society. i am amazed that some people will buy anything. i thought dh was smarter. apparently not.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

    Thanks for the review. I like movies and I like to vote with my wallet.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BS61 BS61

      Me too! It's been quite a dry spell for me at the movies – and I refuse to contribute one single capitalist dollar towards the left! I may have to see it multiple times then, to help make my point! :)

  • Tom

    When was the last time you got a $4 rock concert ticket????

    • Carlos

      I know…God…I just paid 70$ for a Tool concert. Happy to pay it though cuz they are so worth it. But what I disagree with is Ticketmasters monopoly on tickets. They charge at least 12 dollars a transaction. Really? They do nothing..they got a website that handles all that stuff. The consumer does all of the clicking and in return we pay 12 dollars for a piece of paper. Really. Whatever. They have no employees to pay for taking transactions. Weird.

  • MKS

    Capitalism is democracy in economic terms. People get to freely negotiate to determine what they will pay for good and services, or accept for wages.

    No one compels them to pay $50 for a ticket to the symphony, but only $4 for a ticket to a rock concert, because the political powers deem the symphony more beneficial. They choose what they wish based on their own perceived notion of value – not on someone else's assigned notion of value.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/georgerekers georgerekers

      capitalism is a economic system . democracy is a political system. don't confuse the two.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BS61 BS61

      In a democracy, the people would demand that the symphony be lowered to $4 too. :(

    • tilgorekrout

      What utter nonsense– "democracy in economic terms" is social democracy, a system in which people determine how to allocate resources by popular vote.

      Just because individuals are allowed to make (mostly-) free decisions with whatever resources they happen to own DOES NOT make such a system "democratic". …in fact, I'm not sure if you entirely grasp what 'democracy' even means– it sounds more like you wanted to make capitalism sound better by connecting it to a concept with established popular support (democracy)… even if the logical link is essentially non-existent.

  • Bogdan the Aussie

    Georgerekers, those two are inseperable. The one cannot exist without the other…

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/georgerekers georgerekers

      bullshit. look at italy in the 30s. but then again that is what a lot of you guys nut on.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

        Are you talking about Mussolini's Italy?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BS61 BS61

      We are a capitalist republic – or we used to be! No democracy has turned out well – that's why we have rule of law, not men!

  • Bogdan the Aussie

    This is a slightly surprising and nice news related to Ironman. I was sure that Stark went pollitically correct and turned Left so I decided not to see the movie. No I'm going to reverse that decision.

  • BS1977

    Ironman's greatest enemy is Pansy man….

  • Morrisminor

    Wow if cons are looking to mass marketed movies based on comic books for inspiration, then they must not mind be laughed at.

    • coyote3

      Well no, it is more important to consider "who" says they are laughing. I am not a neocon, but if those are laughing are inferior, then no I don't mind.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

    Well, cons need inspiration from somewhere. After all, they've committed crimes and are incarcerated for them. Convicts need their movies … [whistling]

  • traeh

    Hell is an endless comments thread where morons hate each other.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/NO2Globalism NO2Globalism

    Iron Man = arms industry neo-conservative propaganda to highest degree.
    Complete Rubbish for the sheeple of the world.

    • No2fakewords

      goddamnit don't use the fake word sheeple. please. it just ruins… everything.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/NO2Globalism NO2Globalism

    This is a much better review of the movie
    http://www.alternet.org/movies/86093/

    • Sky Captain

      Sorry, NO2Globalism, but both reviews are wrong right off of the bat; here's the real story point that the left and the right have missed in their praise/condemnation of this movie and the first one:

      Tony Stark didn't refuse to give the Iron Man suit to the government because he 'hates the government' (he doesn't)-he refused to give it to them because he knew the arms race that would result if it was ever taken over and modified to be used for the dictates of the U.S. Armed Forces and the other companies in the military-industrial complex, like Justin Hammer's. The situation in the movie with Ivan Vanko was a one-off that would likely never really happen again, but would continue if Hammer had got his way. Remember, this is a man (Tony Stark) who became paranoid because he was afraid of how his armor tech was being used by a ton of super crooks (the main story point of the Armor Wars storyline in the comic book) and who waged a kind of war to make sure these crooks didn't get it, and also changed after his experience in Afghanistan in a cave with Yinsen.

      If this guy wasn't that concerned, he wouldn't be acting as a force for good the way he does in the comic books (which you and many other people should try to read along with watching this movie!) Once again, you and the reviewer join a panoply of people on the left and right who have commented on the Iron Man franchise, but don't really get its message at all.

  • Langas

    Wow. I can't believe what I've just read. You're witnessing capitalism collapsing upon itself, and stil you can write things like "The free market will collapse under the weight of big government". But the line I found the most revolting was the last one: "Stark Industries has privatized world peace, what could be better?". Unbelievable, Mister. You're sick. And sad.