[Off-topic, but sometimes I take requests. As my friend put it, I saw it in Chicago, so hey.]
Iron Man is interesting for two and a half reasons:
1. If we assume that superhero fiction derives from societal wish-fulfillment (cf. Hugo Hercules and urban transportation paranoia), which I think is a reasonable assumption, it’s pretty remarkable–I don’t think I’m spoiling too much by saying that the movie expresses America’s barely subconscious desire to geopolitically unfuck ourselves. Iron Man, the character, exists for two reasons: to kill all the bad guys and save all the civilians with the help of a special superhero PDA, and to go around blowing up all the weapons that we made that ended up in the hands of our enemies. As far as ifs and buts being fruits and nuts, it’s pretty depressing in that sense.
2. It’s not that fancy new weapons don’t have their uses. Iron Man’s late father, with whom he has a complicated relationship, was part of the Manhattan Project, a fact that’s emphasized so often in the movie it’s obvious that it Means Something. And that something parallels with the fate of Iron Man’s invention–you can do things for the plausible benefit of humanity with big-ass weapons, but you also pretty much have to accept that people you don’t like will get them and threaten to use them on you, because information and big-ass weapons want to be free. Which makes it harder to then blow up the people you need to blow up, because they have the science too. This seems to be a world-historically salient point. So, modestly contra J.R. Jones, I would say the ironies w/r/t our current wars are reasonably apparent.
2.5. See the free flow of information in 2.
Oh, right–it’s a good popcorn movie. Better than Tomb Raider, not as good as the Indiana Jones movies, not as politically engaging as Starship Troopers. Based on the Batman trailer I predict that it will be the second-best superhero movie this summer. I liked it better than Spiderman but YMMV.