This is something I’d usually put in a link roundup, but I really did enjoy reading it and wanted to give it a bit more prominence. Over at The Hooded Utilitarian, Betsy Phillips has written a great article comparing and contrasting the movie and comic character Iron Man, aka Tony Stark, and the character “Iron Man” found in the Black Sabbath song of the same name. Here’s a short excerpt from the article:
We have linked Iron Man so closely to “Iron Man” that it would, then, seem to be Tony Stark’s most secret identity—even though we’ve never seen it acknowledged in the Marvel Universe, we suspect he’s the lonely tin man slowly going crazy enough to destroy us all. He just doesn’t know it.
It’s kind of like fan fiction in which we’ve merged these two characters to see what would happen. But no stories have come out of this merger. Except that, clearly, the narrative of “Iron Man” itself is different, even though nothing changes, when it’s Stark who didn’t come back through the magnetic field the same guy he left Earth as.
Here’s what I wonder: Even now, is “Iron Man” so strange and terrifying that we link Iron Man and “Iron Man” not to improve Iron Man, but to give “Iron Man” some context, some way of being easily known and understood? Now, instead of asking, “What the hell happened? Who is this thing and why is it killing everyone?”, we get to pretend that it makes a certain kind of sense—“Oh, it’s Tony Stark! And he’s gone mad, finally.” If figuring out what’s happening makes a horror story less frightening and more manageable, I think the Iron Man/”Iron Man” merge is about making “Iron Man” less terrifying. It gives the song a context in which to understand it that the song itself refuses.
Simply put, the entire article is worth reading, and I suggest you check it out.
Plus, hey… it gives me an excuse to post this: