Friday, April 04, 2008

True Origins of Iron Man

There is a great story over on, titled We Are Iron Man, which attempts to trace the literary and comic book influences on the classic Black Sabbath song "Iron Man".

So what might a song whose themes were in all probability cobbled together from Iron Man's origin story and Ted Hughes's heady children's book mean?

During the Vietnam War era, and again today, those of us who aren't off fighting in a senseless war -- and who know that it's a senseless war -- gain cold comfort from the shrill middlebrow arguments we find in liberal magazines and on op-ed pages. But Black Sabbath’s vaguely antiwar dirge, whose lyrics aren't high-, middle-, or lowbrow, but hilobrow, and whose music is savage, relentless, and overwhelming, is cathartic. It forces listeners to experience man's inhumanity to man, to experience for a moment what it's like to be crippled and deformed by, say, explosive ordnance. Or by the everyday indignities, injustices, and absurdities of contemporary life. ...

Anyone who desires nothing so much as to prevent humankind from tearing itself to pieces, but who feels paralyzed, helpless, tongue-tied -- and therefore full of inarticulate rage, perhaps even a desire for revenge of some kind -- is an iron man.

We're all iron men.

I love how memes travel, and also how they sometimes spontaneously pop up in different areas and media. Joshua Glenn offers several theories as to what the possible connections are between the Marvel Comics superhero, the Ted Hughes children's book The Iron Giant, and the heavy metal anthem. Some of theories are pretty compelling, but he neglects the one I think is most likely, which is that certain archetypical figures just reappear in pop-culture from time to time. Perhaps all these creative individuals were operating under similar influences...

Anyway, I'm stoked about the new Iron Man movie coming out soon. The previews look awesome, Downey seems a perfect choice for jaded, worldly Tony Stark, and the use of the Black Sabbath song in the soundtrack and previews is a no-brainer, but it still makes me very happy!

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