CPO: 09.04.08

I watched Iron Man this week, and damn if that isn’t a fun movie. It’s fast-paced, develops its characters, makes in-jokes that aren’t distracting to non-comics fans, and left me wanting more. The film raises questions about the accountability of weapons manufacturers, without preaching or providing easy answers. Thematically, it’s a coming-of-age story for the over 40 crowd, something oddly appropriate for modern times. Hell, I even enjoyed Gwyneth Paltrow in the flick, and that’s a first. She didn’t do that thing that made me want to hit her. Instead, she was vibrant and likeable as girl Friday, Pepper Potts.

Four-time Oscar nominee, the Dude, was surprisingly creepy as Obadiah Stane. You can never see Jeff Bridges acting, and I mean that in the good way. He’s very natural, even here, playing a comic book villain. We’ve seen what other Oscar nominees do with comics roles. I mean, they didn’t have to tear down the sets after they filmed The Punisher; John Travolta had eaten all of the scenery.

Enough has been written about the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as a damaged, hard-partying, womanizing, alcoholic millionaire-genius. Quirky and neurotic actors have seemingly usurped the summer blockbuster from the steroid-addled action heroes in a slow and gradual rate. They’re not always fortysomethings like Downey and Johnny Depp either (read as: Shia Lebeouf).

The movie made me realize something more important than that, though.

Terrorists are the new Nazis.

I think everybody can appreciate the utility of Nazis as movie villains. Nobody likes these guys. The are a common enemy to Anne Frank and Hellboy! They garner no sympathy from anybody. Spielberg can throw them in as bad guys for his Oscar bait like Schindler’s List or stuff like the Indiana Jones movies. In the ultimate bit of revenge, those who dehumanized have become dehumanized. Killing a Nazi in a movie is rarely (perhaps never) morally questionable.

The main problem with Nazis is this: World War 2 ended over 60 years ago. A bunch of octogenarians with swastikas isn’t quite so intimidating. And let’s face it, neo-Nazis will never be sexy or cool. Captain America could plow through those pansies like a nail through Bill Pullman’s scrotum.

But terrorists? Terrorists are scary; Terror is in their name! They’re sometimes tricky for Jack Bauer to kill.

They are great villains. Everybody hates them. The Republicans hate them because they are brown. The Democrats hate them because the Republicans are better at hating terrorists. The conservatives hate them because they are foreign. The Green party hates terrorists because the Green Party hates everything but grass and Phish. The liberals hate them because terrorists are often religious. The Libertarians hate terrorists because terrorists hate freedom. Muslims hate them because terrorism gives their religion a bad image. Brown people hate terrorists because terrorism makes it hard for them to get through airport security.

Even terrorists hate other terrorists. It’s great!

Whoa. The word terrorist looks really weird now.

I’ve written it too much. It keeps on turning into territory or terrier.
Terriers are my very favorite breed
they’re cute and cuddly, easy dogs to feed
they will bring you up whenever you are down
terriers average 20 pounds
when I walk around this terrier town
the only thing that makes me down
is when people put bandanas on their dog

Iron Man is a smart enough flick to have the terrorist be, for the most part, non-denominational. They’re not yelling about Allah or Mohamed. They’re imperialists! Imperialist terrorists, all sides of the political spectrum are bound to hate those.

It’s brilliant.