In the new movie The Avengers (which is excellent: see my review for National Review Online here), Iron man’s alter-ego Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) perfects a renewable, clean energy source, and uses it to light up his company’s new Manhattan skyscraper.
In spite of this green street-cred, Stark is a hero designed—literally—to drive liberals crazy. Stan Lee, who co-created Iron Man in the 1960’s, has often reminisced to interviewers about his motives for creating Stark. After helping to create a string of popular heroes for Marvel Comics, including Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, Lee had decided to give himself a challenge, and asked himself: Who do young people (read: liberals) hate? The military, Lee thought right away (it was the 60’s, after all), and the wealthy. So for his next hero, Lee decided to create a millionaire industrialist who made weapons for the army, and then make him likable. Iron Man was born.
Now, Filmmakers who have brought Tony Stark to the big screen in a string of recent blockbusters—Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2012)—have made him even more unpalatable to liberals. After all, what other super-hero is regularly shown blasting terrorists out of their caves in Afghanistan, or working side-by-side with the United States Military?
Imagine how queasy greens must feel to see that this arch-capitalist be the one to invent renewable energy in the Marvel universe. And worse, he didn’t do it for the good of Mankind. He did for entirely selfish reasons, indeed, the most selfish reason: He built the first, miniature version of his energy source in the first Iron Man film in order to power his wounded heart, which had been shredded by enemy shrapnel.
More unforgivable from the environmentalists’ perspective, however, is that Stark did all of this without a Department of Energy grant. Unlike Solyndra, he needed no government incentives or funding. Unlike Solyndra, he succeeded. Now, in The Avengers, Stark uses this technology to power a gigantic monument to himself, a gleaming tower with “Stark” emblazoned in bright letters at its apex.
True, Stark and his exploits are fiction. But can there be any doubt that, if and when an actual, viable green tech is invented, that it will be by someone like Stark, a self-reliant, independent genius, as opposed to a pasty-faced D.O.E. bureaucrat? Can there be any doubt that it will be a capitalist, working for his or her own selfish ends, that will provide the breakthroughs that environmentalists insist the government must provide and/or subsidize?
And won’t that drive them crazy?