Academic journal article CineAction

The Economics, Geopolitics and Ideology of an Imperial Film Commodity

Academic journal article CineAction

The Economics, Geopolitics and Ideology of an Imperial Film Commodity

Article excerpt

Iron Man (2008) is a Hollywood film produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures. Based on the Cold War-era Marvel comic by the same name, the film is about Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), a multi-millionaire engineer whose Stark Industries (inherited from his father) researches, develops and sells weapons technologies to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). In the opening scene, Stark is escorted to U.S.-occupied Afghanistan by a friendly DOD liaison, Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes (Terrence Howard). There, Stark demonstrates the killing power of a new commercialized weapon system (the "Jericho Missile") but is soon after ambushed and taken captive in a cave by a jihadist group called The Ten Rings. Stark is almost killed by IED shrapnel, which is lodged close to his heart. But Yinsen, Stark's fellow captive, saves him by grafting an electromagnet into Stark's chest to keep the shrapnel from reaching his heart. The terrorist leader Raza then forces Stark and Yinsen to make weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) for them from the cave. But instead of doing so, they engineer an electric generator (the arc reactor) and a weaponized armoured battle-suit, which Stark uses to escape. Yinsen is killed, but Stark fights his way to freedom and is then rescued by the DOD, which takes him back to the U.S. There, Stark announces that he will no longer sell WMDs, but Obadiah Stane, the manager of Stark Industries, advises him against this decision. To his dismay, Stark learns that the weapons Stark Industries sells are being used by the Ten Rings to kill peasant Afghanis and also, that Stane wants to cut him out of Stark Industries. Stark engineers a new weaponized armour suit, flies back to Afghanistan, kills the terrorists and saves the Afghani villagers. Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Stark's assistant, discovers that Stane supplied the Ten Rings with WMDs and also, hired the terrorist group to kill Stark. At the film's climax, Stark battles Stane (who dawns his own battle-suit) atop his Stark Industries and defeats him with a massive energy blast. The film ends with Stark revealing his super-hero identity to the press.

Iron Man was made in a world system in which the U.S. is the dominant imperial power. Since at least WWII, the U.S. state and U.S. corporations have struggled to rule markets across territories by building, promoting and policing a world system of states that share the U.S.'s core features: the capitalist mode of production, the liberal democratic state form, and the consumerist "way of life." The U.S. fights for "hegemony" in the world system through the incorporation of others, using strategies of coercion and ideological persuasion, brute force and consent building. In the early 21" century, the U.S. continues to be a dominant imperial power, economically, militarily and media-culturally. The U.S. economy is three times the size of the world's next largest, Japan. With only 4.6% of the world population, the U.S. accounts for about 27.5% of the world's total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Iron Man exists in a world in which U.S.-based corporations are backed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)--the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard--which controls more than half a million troops, is equipped with nearly half of the world's total weapons and has more than eight hundred and sixty five military bases in more than forty foreign countries. Iron Man is also part of globalizing Hollywood, major film companies that are located in Los Angeles, California, but have business operations that encircle the planet. Hollywood studios, distribution networks and exhibition platforms are largely controlled by six U.S.-based transnational media conglomerates (TNMCs): the Walt Disney Company, Comcast-NBC-Universal, News Corporation, Viacom, Time-Warner and Sony Entertainment of America. TNMC-controlled Hollywood exerts asymmetrical influence over the internal structure, ownership patterns, distribution and exhibition process and standards of film of other national film industries without proportionate reciprocation of influence by them. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.