The first installment of the Iron Man franchise can be analyzed in the context of whether it either reaffirms or criticizes mainstream culture. Indeed, the film does a bit of both. The movie script itself as well as the underlying method and motives of the filmmakers and actors in terms of how the film is being marketed and portrayed potentially irrespective of what is being asserted directly in the movie itself will also be assessed.. Iron Man and films like it play a two-sided game of both glorifying and condemning ideas that are political and ideological in nature but often does so in a way that is not even-handed or is otherwise not grounded in reality.
Iron Man Observations
What is clear straight away with the interactions and the developments surrounding Tony Stark (Downey) and Obadiah is that the movie is making a statement about corporate greed and the practice of weaponry and arms sales around the world. Stark is taken hostage behind enemy lines in Afghanistan and is held there for several months. Upon his return, he insists that his company's days of selling weapons is over and they should instead focus on their brand of reactors call the "Arc." Obadiah is dealing weapons to insurgents under the table and Stark does not know this but this does not stop from imploring to Stark that the move is the wrong one and that the Arc reactors are just a publicity stunt and not a viable product. Despite Obadiah's reservations, even if Obadiah does not reveal what is motivating him, Stark insists that the move away from the weaponry is going forward and Stark focuses on developing his suits.
A reporter reveals what is going on with the weapon sales by Obadiah and when Stark confronts him, Obadiah makes it clear that he has no hesitation to sell weapons to both sides of a conflict even if one side of the conflict is actively and intentionally fighting against the United States in theaters around the world like Afghanistan. After Tony Stark is eventually successful against Obadiah, he is about to undergo a planned press conference, discards his notes and states openly and clearly that he is Iron Man and the crowed erupts.
In addition to the statement about greed overriding decency and the rules that international companies and weapon dealers must follow in general, the movie goes right after the idea of how people will gravitate towards. Another part of the greed noted above is that Obadiah openly steals the Iron Man technology to try and use it for his own wants and needs but he is ultimately vanquished. So, to summarize the plot, one has an open attack on corporate greed, the propensity for the media and the society to gravitate towards certain public figures and the general struggle between good and evil overall. There is also the concern and dynamic about how this whole plot is marketed to the public and what conclusions, right or wrong, the public might draw from the assertions and plot elements that are present in this movie.
Correlation to Sources
Some words of Joli Jenson can clearly be correlated to the film and its themes and methods. Jenson likened fans of entertainment and other starts to a type of pathology in that they would be depicted as borderline-lunatics and otherwise unreasonable people. In the case of the end sequence of Iron Man, this is not all bad as the person they are gravitating to is not a villain. After all, Tony Stark thwarted Obadiah and forsook his production and development of weapons even before he knew that Obadiah was dealing weapons to both sides of the conflict. Correlating the Jenson offering and the "fans" of Iron Man becomes even more ironic and intriguing when keeping in mind that Iron Man is a movie that was designed to draw fans who would buy the costumes, the posters and the movie tickets, let alone things like action figures and comic books. Iron Man and the wider Avengers franchises are far from being new and this is just the most modern adaptation. The Batman series, as a corollary example, has had several different leading men and has been "rebooted" several times. Spiderman is the same way (Jenson).
Jenson also makes mention of the media feeding the monster and making fans what they are in many ways. When the media itself is part of the crowd and part of the bastion of who is cheered and who is jeered, this can instill the person's authority and power more than that person could ever do on their own. Rarely, there will be cultural forces that will be actively resisted by the media and the media's efforts will be quashed but this is rarely the case. Instead, what is seen much more is events like that with Miley Cyrus. The media covers her depravity and debauchery as of late incessantly even though most people find her behavior disgusting and/or immoral (Jenson).
However, it is clear that there is much money to be made from pushing winners and losers, so that is why the media does it. Indeed, many media companies like Time Warner and Comcast are heavily involved in both news-maker outlets and publications as well as entertainment and fashion so they have the ability to have one outlet feed the other and vice versa. Such a glaring and unsafe conflict of interest will lead to the wrong people being glorified and the wrong people being made pariahs a lot of the time. However, the avarice and other pervasive problems in those industries dictate that the unethical processes will keep on going unabated (Fisje). Combine that with a generation of younger adults who have pathetically limited scopes and understanding of historical fact, and that makes the effects all the more worse (Friday).
The two suggested sources that involved Fight Club can also be correlated with this film. Fight Club was clearly a broadsides attack on consumerism and consumption of discretionary goods. In some ways, Iron Man took a similar arc but did so in a slightly different way. The film came out in 2008, about six to seven years into the conflict in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan conflict was wildly popular when it started but was much smaller by the time the first Iron Man movie came out. Both Fight Club and Iron Man attacked the underlying themes and ideas of two different things, but they both attacked things that were wildly advocated for at least at some point. Iron Man took the same general path as Stop-Loss and Redacted but did so in a much more subtle way and in a way that would be embraced by the public. Rather than come right out and say that the United States is unjust and evil, they instead focused on the particular parties that were causing the problems the most directly (Henderson)(Giroux, and Szeman).
Just like consumerism is usually embraced, implicitly or explicitly, by most people, most people do not believe or do not want to believe that their country is involved in evil deeds. Even if the Iron Man approach was more even-handed, it was perhaps still painting with too broad a brush and rather than center completely on the evil parts, they perhaps indicted people that did have good intentions. There are certainly instances in United States history where someone in the United States was obviously and intentionally dealing to the enemy but if that has happened in the real-world Afghanistan conflict, it has not be proven. Similarly, advocating acts of violence and destruction for the portion (not everyone) of society that is too consumer-centric (which is what Fight Club did and then some) is also a bit of an over-reach in terms of what is beign…