What You Think You’re Watching
A superhero movie based on the comic book character Iron Man. In this sequel, Tony Stark faces an enemy who has built his own version of the Iron Man suit, as well as a douchey rival weapons manufacturer.
Iron Man is the ultimate objectivist hero, fighting for private property rights against the vulturelike thieves known as “the government.” In other words, Ayn Rand’s wet dream.
In Rand’s 1,200-page love letter to capitalism, Atlas Shrugged, you have a protagonist named Francisco d’Anconia, a brilliant businessman who runs his inherited family business. D’Anconia deliberately maintains an image as a worthless playboy in order to avoid the growing culture of government theft depicted in Rand’s novel.
The protagonist of the Iron Man series is Tony Stark, a brilliant businessman who has also inherited his father’s business. Until the end of the first Iron Man film, Stark deliberately maintains an image as a worthless playboy in order to hide his superhero identity.
Then in Rand’s novel we have Hank Rearden, another protagonist who got super-rich by inventing a valuable metal alloy whose formula he continues to keep secret. The government, sensing the metal’s usefulness, tries to forcibly take the rights to Rearden’s alloy away from him.
Stark also gains massive amounts power by inventing, among other things, a gold-titanium alloy for use in the Iron Man suit, whose design he continues to keep a secret. The government, sensing its usefulness, tries to take the rights to Stark’s suit.
In Atlas Shrugged, Rearden is hauled into court for breaking government regulations relating to his steel company. He gives a wildly popular speech in court about his property rights, telling his accusers: “I am fighting for my property!” He humiliates his opponents by winning over the crowd and concludes by telling them: “I work for nothing but my own profit.”
In Iron Man 2, Stark is hauled into a Senate hearing, during which a senator demands he hand over his designs.
Stark responds by giving a wildly popular speech about his property rights, telling his accusers: “You want my property? You can’t have it!” He humiliates his opponents by winning over the crowd and concludes by telling them: “I will serve this great nation at the pleasure of myself.”
The bad guys, too, are uncannily similar. Atlas Shrugged’s government lobbyist cozies up to the government in lieu of actual talent. Iron Man 2’s main antagonist keeps trying to steal Stark’s work with the help of substantial government contracts. There’s also Iron Man’s other nemesis in the film, Ivan Vanko, who is Russian. You know what else comes from Russia? Communism, that’s what.
Plus, in a documentary on the DVD for the first film, Iron Man co-creator Stan Lee flat out says that he created a capitalist, commie-fighting, industrialist, weapon-manufacturing superhero as a way to deliberately antagonize hippie-leaning comic book fans. Anti-military sentiment was high back in the 60s, and Lee wanted to challenge himself by creating a character he could force them to like.