Iron Man: America Doesn’t Negotiate With Terrorists

Tony Stark; genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist. He’s the son of Howard Stark. Howard was infamous for being a womanizer and inventor in his youth as we see in Marvel’s Agent Carter. But in his adult years his best accomplishment was co-founding S.H.I.E.L.D with Peggy Carter. When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is commissioned to give a weapons presentation to the US army in Afghanistan, he’s given a ride on enemy lines. This unit is led by his best friend Lt Col. James Rhodes (Terence Howard).

The journey ends badly when Stark’s vehicle is ambushed by the enemy. He just about survives with added complications…a shrapnel-filled chest and a car battery attached to his heart. Tony likes living with his lifestyle of one night stands and throwing his money into the American government. He likes making weapons for the government so they can invade impoverished countries. In order to carry on living, he comes up with a way to make the battery smaller whilst retaining the same function as the original battery. The first rendition of the Iron Man suit is clunky, but helps him escape the cave in Afghanistan. Once back on American soil, he begins work on the Iron Man suit but the man in charge of Stark Industries plans to take Tony’s company away from him, using it to further his own personal ambition.

Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark/Iron Man (Iron Man, Marvel Studios)

Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark/Iron Man
(Iron Man, Marvel Studios)

As far as pro-war propaganda movies go, this as original as it gets. It’s no American Sniper or Homeland. It’s an orignal kick-ass comic book movie. How should I put it? It’s very “MURICA!!!” Sure, the bad guys are militant extremists. They are Muslims as we see in the media consistently today, with the west’s campaign in The War On Terror (post 9/11). Unlike Homeland or American Sniper, the main villain is a white guy. An American business man called Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges). He was Howard’s friend and he has only ever tried to help Tony, up until Tony announced that Stark Industries would stop manufacturing weapons.

The setup explores the character’s background with this incredibly flawed man’s cocky, ostentatious, sarcastic and arrogant persona. Downey Jr’s Tony Stark creates the world’s most complex and devastating weaponry for the American military. Tony Stark is Bruce Wayne meets Howard Hughes (watch The Aviator). Tony inherited Stark Industries from his late father and runs the company with Stane. As I mentioned before, Tony is kidnapped. But his kidnappers want him to create the same weapons he created for the US Army but for them instead. Tony is being watched by Big Brother the entire time and miraculously creates some kind of armoured suit which he uses to escape. He makes it as far as the desert, not far from the cave he was marooned in. Soon after,  he’s rescued by an American rescue party.

Tony is taken hostage (Iron Man, Marvel Studios)

Tony (Downey Jr) is taken hostage
(Iron Man, Marvel Studios)

“I saw young Americans killed by the very weapons I created to defend them and protect them. And I saw that I had become part of a system that is comfortable with zero-accountability.” Tony comes back from his experience of real life, a reformed man. He has more to offer humanity than things that kill people. He announces his exit from the weapons business which puts Stane against him as well as the media, and he also tries to find a new project to focus on. He sees that the Iron Man suit could be something great if he applies himself to it as much as he does to his playboy image. Simultaneously, the terrorists, with the help of Stane, are concocting their own version of the suit with scraps of metal left in the desert by Tony on his escape. With his new suit, Tony goes to teach some Afghan terrorists a lesson as a costumed vigilante. This doesn’t go down well with US government. His Iron Man suit made some military-grade fighter jets look like toys.

Overall, the movie is on point. The only bad side to the movie is the final act. The final showdown between Iron Man and the big boss Stane is very rigid. It’s clunky and very stiff. It doesn’t flow well at all. Also, I think it was overly long. I don’t like Gwyneth Paltrow in that last scene or as Pepper at all. Normally, Marvel cast well but I think that’s a serious miscasting on their part. The cringe was strong with Pepper but I liked the introduction of SHIELD with Agent Colson (Clarke Gregg) and Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). As much as I despise the character of Tony Stark, I have to say Robert Downey Jr was born for that part. In Iron Man and every movie since where Iron Man has featured, he’s completely owned that character. We see Iron Man’s weaknesses but also his strength. The movie shows that a man who was once manipulated by capitalist ideals and western ideologies can be changed into someone better. A man who cares about people. Iron Man was the first stepping stone into the right direction on his path to enlightenment. Tony Stark may be a superhero, but that doesn’t make him a good human being as we see in Age Of Ultron and Civil War.

Obadiah Stane (Bridges) and Tony Stark (Downey Jr) (Iron Man, Marvel Studios)

Obadiah Stane (Bridges) and Tony Stark (Downey Jr)
(Iron Man, Marvel Studios)

In conclusion, this movie shows us the flaws of capitalism but that it can be used for greatness as well. Capitalism isn’t necessary a bad thing, but it’s not a good thing either as we see with people like Stane who got greedy with power. Tony wasn’t that great of person at the beginning of the movie. He’d use his money rashly but he soon changes his ways and takes the first steps on his path to redemption. He was one bad day from being Stane. All in all, a good movie about one of my least favourite Marvel characters.

One man’s evil doesn’t make you good