(Part 24 Of An Ongoing Series)
While you’re snoozing in your widdle jammies, back in Washington we’re wide awake and worried! Why? Because everyone wants what we have, Hogarth! Everyone! You think this metal man is fun, but who built it? The Russians? The Chinese? Martians? Canadians? I don’t care! All I know is we didn’t build it, and that’s reason enough to assume the worst and blow it to kingdom come!
Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald)
The Iron Giant chews up the scrap metal from a whole heap of 20th Century Americana: Superman, King Kong, E.T., Disney heart, Looney Tunes cheek, Cold War Space Race paranoia. And instead of simply regurgitating or otherwise excreting what it has ingested, The Iron Giant seems to absorb it all on its way to becoming a tender yet unstoppably bitchin’ war machine of a movie.
The movie’s not just 1999 because of how freshly it wraps up the past century in Gold & Silver Age comic book wrapping paper, but also for how it points to the century ahead. Part of it represents the high water-mark of hand-drawn Hollywood features, right before CGI rose to domination. Yet it also integrates CGI, and rather seamlessly. Brad Bird’s pretty-much-flawless direction keeps finding novel ways to get the best of both worlds.
And then there’s the uncanny way it foreshadows the panicky war-hawking that came roaring back with a vengeance after 9/11, and which probably kept things fucked up a little longer than necessary. This is not to equate Al-Qaeda terrorists with the good-hearted, unintentionally dangerous Iron Giant himself; rather, it’s to point out that rash military aggression often makes enemies out of those who might normally be friends.
More on that stuff when we talk about Three Kings. For now I’ll just add that The Iron Giant rules and it annihilates me every time. Souls don’t die… You are who you choose to be: Superman.