Coming Soon: Iron Man

UPDATE: While we’re still discussing Iron Man here at home, we’re also overflowing with end of the last year in high school for the last child at home. And there’s more: Prince Caspian has just come out and I haven’t seen it yet. But, I have heard that the screenwriters decided to change it in the interests of altering Susan’s part in the plot. And, when 21st Century screenwriters do that … well, I’m not optimistic that its going to be a change to advance the orthodoxy of sexual roles in the West.

So, I’m going to have to see Prince Caspian now, so I can compare/contrast it with the way Iron Man handles the roles of the sexes.

Stay tuned.

I’ve been looking around for someone else to say what I want to say, but haven’t had much sucess.  Lots of positive reviews, but the film’s most amazing features are either overlooked or where noticed (just barely) they elicit feminazi wisecracks.

Iron Man is just about the most honest statement about male and female and how they are supposed to relate that I have seen in any film in years.  Once Big Thangs this weekend are safely in the rear view mirror (including a dandy Daddy-Daughter Walz in a couple of hours ago; watch for pictures, maybe a video clip, of me and my baby walzing), I’ll try to pull together my thoughts on Iron Man for next week.

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8 Comments

Filed under Man, the glory of God

8 responses to “Coming Soon: Iron Man

  1. > I have heard that the screenwriters decided to change [Prince Caspian] in the interests of altering Susan’s part in the plot.

    I was wondering if C. S. Lewis actually portrayed her as such a warriorette. Being an archer is one thing (in the rear well out of sword reach), but getting into the thick of battle is another.

    > Iron Man is just about the most honest statement about male and female and how they are supposed to relate that I have seen in any film in years.

    I haven’t seen Iron Man yet, but I *did* see “The Birds” last night. (It was an instant-viewing freebee on Netflix. I’ve been curious to see it again after having seen it 40 years ago as a kid in the ’60s.) It is refreshingly pre-feminist. Rod Taylor’s character is continually rescuing his mother, kid sister and girlfriend from the birds while they scream and cower. He’s busy boarding up the windows, barricading doors. He’s keeping the fire lit to prevent use of the chimney. He’s getting pecked like crazy through the window when they begin to gain access to the house and he has to seal off their entrance. He rescues the girlfriend when she goes off by herself upstairs and is getting hopelessly pecked to death. He takes care of the body of the dead female schoolteacher in the front yard. He goes and gets the car so they can flee. Other men in town are doing the male-thing, too: firefighters police, etc. Meanwhile, there is one scene of a bunch of girls and women taking shelter in a hallway of the restaurant scared out of their wits. There are no manly women in this movie, though the schoolteacher did garden in pants. Yes, the women do rescue the kids from school when no man was around, and they do their share of self-preservation bird-swatting in the livingroom, but they usually eventually need a man to step in and save the day.

    So, I got more out of it than I expected!

    –Michael

  2. Seamus

    Decided to stop by your blog again today…incidentally I have just seen both films in question. My primary critique of gender roles in “Iron Man” stems from the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t wearing very sensible shoes. A matter of practicality more than theology, really.

    You’re not going to like Susan’s role in “Prince Caspian,” I can tell you that. Neither did I, although to be honest, for me her implausibility on the battlefield had less to do with her femininity and more to do with her age and obvious lack of physical training (same holds true for the other children, male and female). I don’t think Lewis envisioned it quite this way: the books spend much more time on character development and interaction and so much less on rampant battling. Plus they’re all so horrid to one another, definitely wasn’t nearly so much sibling squabbling in the book.

    Interested in reading your thoughts on the film.

    Regarding “The Birds,” though, and this raises an interesting point I think. Yes, you say, it’s good to see Rod Taylor looking out for women (and to a great extent I’m quite willing to agree). However, does this necessarily entail that we congratulate Tippi Hedren and company for incompetency?

    Sure, it’s admirable of Rod to volunteer for dangerous tasks. And, since they have a man around, I’m guessing you’ll say, it’s right for the women to step down and let him handle the tough stuff. But really, should we be pleased that the townswomen are “screaming,” “cowering,” “scared out of their wits”? Wouldn’t you concede that there’s such a thing as feminine courage? Even if, to you, that courage shouldn’t be expressed in seagull-swatting derring-do, is it to much to ask that the women show a little dignity, poise, and presence of mind? I would posit that most egalitarians and complementarians could agree that Suzanne Pleshette’s character (pants or no) shows a good deal more Godly virtue in a time of crisis than Tippi does, for example.

    I guess I’m saying that I would reconsider the idea that, because being brave, chivalric, and helpful are virtues for men, that being completely help-LESS is a virtue for women.

    Even from a complementarian standpoint (which I might be botching, in which case please let me know), it seems the idea is that the virtues for women are positive traits in the realms of family, nurturing, domesticity, etc., and vices for women are the corresponding negative traits of bad parenting, being unloving, failing at domestic duties, etc. Alternatively, for men the positive traits are bravery, chivalry, self-sacrifice etc. and the negative ones are cowardice, lack of a sense of duty, selfishness, etc.

    In your view, women shouldn’t strive to be (essentially) positive-traited “men,” and men shouldn’t strive to be positive-traited “women.” But I fail to see any logical or Scriptural basis for why we should therefore applaud qualities in women that are distinctly negative traits in men, or vice versa. Even by your own rationale, why wouldn’t you prefer that women remain completely neutral on the continuum of bravery-to-cowardice? Why should we try to judge a woman in “masculine” terms anyhow? Why is Tippi Hedren’s cowardice relevant whatsoever to her femininity, just because Rod Taylor’s bravery is relevant to his masculinity? Even if there is a black-and-white distinction between men and women, it does not follow that each must be the other’s diametrical opposite.

    By the same logic, say a man is incapable of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, or dusting furniture, or some other kind of failure to accomplish domestic tasks. While such a failing may not be a poor reflection of his masculinity, because this is conventionally a woman’s ability, does his IN-ability to do accomplish these tasks automatically brand him a “good man”? No, you should say, to be a good man he would have to have a positive man-trait, not just a negative woman-trait. Then why should we say that Tippi Hedren is a proper woman just because she has a negative man-trait? If you were to argue that Jessica Tandy is a good woman, your argument would be consistent, because at least she succeeded in organizing a birthday party during the film.

    In summary, just because someone is in distress doesn’t make them a damsel; in fact, often quite the opposite–if their distress is a woman’s only characteristic, she is only being defined according to masculine terms, and thus, is herself nothing more than a gender-cipher.

  3. Seamus

    By the way, many congratulations to Veronica and good luck to her at UT. What will she be studying?

  4. Michael McMillan

    Hi Seamus,

    Good to hear from you.

    > Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t wearing very sensible shoes.

    I hate when that happens.

    > You’re not going to like Susan’s role in “Prince Caspian,” I can tell you that.

    If you’re talking to me, I’d already seen it when I wrote before. At least she was dressed nicely. Modern heroic Hollywood women usually have less on than the men. Susan looked much better’n Kiera Knightly’s archer in “King Arthur.” I think her shoes were even practical.

    > her implausibility on the battlefield had less to do with her femininity and more to do with her age and obvious lack of physical training

    Agreed. That goes for sword-fighting mice, too.

    > Yes, you say, it’s good to see Rod Taylor looking out for women (and to a great extent I’m quite willing to agree).

    Instead of the men being the jerks or the women being the leaders.

    > However, does this necessarily entail that we congratulate Tippi Hedren and company for incompetency?

    You took what I said and flew the coop with it. I don’t remember calling Tippi incompetent, even if she did need rescuing from that phone booth.

    > But really, should we be pleased that the townswomen are “screaming,” “cowering,” “scared out of their wits”?

    Hey, it was supposed to be a horror movie. Someone had to do a little screaming. By the way, my wife and I went for a walk last evening and briefly shared the street with a tarantula also out for a stroll. My wife did the typical girl-thing, but the tarantula was on the other side of the street and wasn’t even after her! That’s what I mean. My wife is hardly incompetent.

    > Wouldn’t you concede that there’s such a thing as feminine courage?

    Yep– like I said, don’t read more into what I said than what I said.

    > …I would reconsider the idea that… being completely help-LESS is a virtue for women.

    No one said it was a virtue.

    > Even if, to you, that courage shouldn’t be expressed in seagull-swatting derring-do

    I’m the one that mentioned everyone was doing their share of bird-swatting in the living room, as it should have been. And I also mentioned Suzanne’s and Tippi’s bravery in getting the children out of the school. Suzanne supposedly died shoving the girl in the house. Tippi went upstairs by herself to investigate the noise while the others were sleeping. That doesn’t make them the least bit masculine. Mostly what I’m saying is that men were leading in a crisis. Feminism likes making the men look like the incompetents or perpetrators.

    > …is it to much to ask that the women show a little dignity, poise, and presence of mind?

    That’s right up my alley — I’m sick of the lack of female dignity and poise in our society.

    > Even by your own rationale, why wouldn’t you prefer that women remain completely neutral on the continuum of bravery-to-cowardice?

    I admire brave women. Corrie Ten Boom comes to mind. But they don’t have to hit the beach at Normandy on D-day to be brave. That’s judging them by a masculine standard.

    > Why should we try to judge a woman in “masculine” terms anyhow?

    That is a very good question to ask the feminists. Unless women are doing what men do, they’re apparently lacking something.

    > Even if there is a black-and-white distinction between men and women, it does not follow that each must be the other’s diametrical opposite.

    You’re the only one bringing that up.

    > If you were to argue that Jessica Tandy is a good woman, your argument would be consistent, because at least she succeeded in organizing a birthday party during the film.

    Actually, she turned out to be the weakest of the three main women in the movie, hiding behind her tough, stern facade. She was worried about being alone without her son, even without kamikaze seagulls around. And don’t think I admire such a trait.

    Thanks for your comments. Good to chat with another bird-watcher!

    –Michael

  5. Michael McMillan

    Seamus–

    The short version is: I’m glad it’s “Iron Man” and not “Iron Woman.” That does not mean I’m waiting for them to come out with “Jellyfish Woman.”

    –Michael

  6. Sorry, guys, but I’m still up to my armpits in getting Veronica off to school. We drive to Austin tomorrow, back Thursday.

    I have seen Prince Caspian, and pretty much agree with what’s said above. Susan was mostly silly, like the sword-weilding mouse. Except a sword-weilding mouse has a “normal” comic quality. Susan too had a comic quality, but it wasn’t supposed to come off that way, I’m sure.

    Plus, I was continually unsettled by Susan’s inescapable resemblance to Chelsea Clinton.

  7. Hi Fr.Bill,

    I pray you are having a safe drive back from Austin today.

    I am listening to Russell Moore’s plenary session at your conference a few years back – where he talks about Wonder Woman. I love the term he used about comic books, “Blood curdling masculinity”. Love it!

    I am wondering why we don’t have a Wonder Woman revival film? We have a new BatMan series, We have Iron Man and Hell Boy and yet another Incedible Hulk. Where are the girls?

    Kamilla

  8. Michael McMillan

    Regarding Prince Caspian’s big screen Susan in battle, here’s a good (2-part) article at CBMW:

    http://www.cbmw.org/Blog/Posts/C-S-Lewis-Prince-Caspian-and-Women-in-Combat-Part-1

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