By Kyle | May 5, 2010
Meet Tony Stark — Capitalist Tool. I liked “Iron Man,” and liked it even more the second time I saw it, but it didn’t overwhelm me. And I felt it was a little wishy-washy on questions of capitalism and patriotism.
Not so with “Iron Man 2,” in which Tony Stark is a Randian hero who all but goes Galt when seemingly the only force that could ever defeat him — the U.S. government — begins to make the outrageous demand that his Iron Man technology is somehow public property. Because … well, it’s really important. And everyone knows that when it comes to important stuff, only the government can be trusted to handle it.
Stark makes the argument that the opposite is the case. He says he has made national defense a triumph by privatizing it (!). Yes, he actually uses the word privatize, and though I part with pure libertarians about this subject (no, I don’t think cops and the military should be privatized), to hear a superhero outlining such a bold stance is a tonic to say the least. (As I write virtually every time the subject is a superhero movie, these things are so predictable that I can barely pay attention to the latest by-the-numbers plot.) Moreover, Tony is unapologetic about getting rich (he’s simply smarter than the competition), openly mocks the senators who are grilling him about his alleged selfishness and warns the government about handpicking winners in the weapons business (such as Sam Rockwell, who plays a rival industrialist who, though this is never explicitly mentioned, has obviously won Pentagon contracts by buying off lawmakers). He notes that evil-axis-dwellers such as the Iranians and the Norks are five to ten years from developing Iron Man technology, and that the cocky-but-inept Rockwell character is “more like 20” years away. In a very Howard Roark/Galt-ish moment, Stark chastises the government that it cannot take away his private property.
“Iron Man 2,” which contains a sight gag at the expense of Barack Obama (I doubt liberals, who are humor-deaf when it comes to the One will even notice how openly their hero is being mocked) and even makes fun of Christiane Amanpour (there is also a Bill O’Reilly joke thrown in for the liberals) is a full-throated cheer for capitalism, entrepreneurship and individualism. What a joy (and a laugh) it is to realize that now both of Hollywood’s biggest superhero franchises are striking a robust conservative stance.