Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tony Stark/Iron Man's atonement (Origins of Siege)

In today's Origins of Siege, there is a series of one-page origins of the key players, including Iron Man. Fred van Lente and Salvador Larroca do a fine job recapping Tony's story, and one phrase stuck out to me: after he disavows weapons production following his time in the Middle East, "Tony still felt he had much to atone for."

As it happens, one of the chapters in my upcoming edited book, Iron Man and Philosophy: Facing the Stark Reality (Wiley), is titled "Can Iron Man Atone for Tony Stark's Wrongs?", written by Christopher Robichaud. It begins:
As a genius superhero, a wealthy industrialist, a high-ranking government official—and, lest we forget, a man of considerable talent in having a good time—Tony Stark is seen as a paragon of American achievement and excellence. But there’s a private side to him, too, and it betrays a haunted man. On closer examination, Stark’s party-boy lifestyle reveals dispositions that border dangerously on self-destruction. His techno-geek savvy finds him much better at, and much more interested in, building gadgets than personal relationships—just ask Pepper Potts (among others). And his career in and out of his high-tech armor is a checkered one, at best. Whether it’s following the trail of shady arms deals done by Stark Industries, controlling the damage caused when Iron Man technology falls into the hands of villains, or confronting the national crisis of Captain America being assassinated under his watch, Tony Stark often finds himself trying to right the wrongs that he, inadvertently or not, helped bring about. Indeed, his ongoing campaign to address both the circumstances and the guilt stemming from his perceived failings is arguably the main motivation behind Stark’s exploits as the invincible Iron Man. No doubt, this is what makes him such a fascinating character in the Marvel Universe. So, are personal atonement and public redress achievable? Or are they outside the grasp of the invincible Iron Man?
Robichaud focuses on moral responsibility, blame, and forgiveness in this chapter, one of the best in a book that turned out even better than I'd dreamed.

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