One of the few big-budget action films that was actually successful this summer is Iron Man Three which opened back in May. The film’s big box office returns gave Hollywood hope back in the good ol’ days of May before The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, and R.I.P.D all imploded on themselves like the USS Cygnus in 1979’s The Black Hole.
I’ve long been a big fan of the Iron Man film franchise if for no other reason than the fact that Tony Stark is a charming eccentric and individualist. Although Stark starts out in the original Iron Man as a merchant of death who builds weapons for the the U.S. government, his feelings toward the Feds soon turn ambivalent.
By Iron Man 2, Stark is openly defiant toward the U.S. government, and is especially contemptuous of the odious Senator Stern, well played by Garry Shandling. Others who seek to sell weapons to the Feds, such as Justin Hammer, are portrayed as truly awful human beings, while Tony Stark, who claims private ownership of the Iron Man technology, refuses to sell out to any government.
The themes of peace and property in Iron Man Three , on the other hand, are less built around conflict with the U.S. government, although the villain, played deliciously by Guy Pearce (see my review on Lawless for more on one of Pearce’s other great villain roles), is a weapons manufacturer and wannabe government contractor.
In one scene, an assistant to the villain expresses regret over her past of hocking weapons to the state, and Pepper of Stark Industries notes she once committed similarly immoral acts, noting her regret as well.
Other laudable themes include the subplot in which the Vice President of the U.S. is a criminal, although, regrettably, the President is portrayed in the film as a generally honorable person, and Don Cheadle’s character, an Air Force officer, is a heroic figure who pilots a government-owned version of the Iron Man suit mockingly referred to by Stark as “The Iron Patriot.”
Score: While Iron Man Three is a thoroughly entertaining film, The Rothbard Scale only scores the prevalence of libertarian themes in a movie. While Iron Man 2 probably earned three (out of 4) Rothbard Heads, I give Iron Man Three 2.5 Rothbard Heads (above average) for its generally contemptuous attitude toward the federal government as well as Stark’s heroic individualism.
12:14 am on July 24, 2013