Nov 05

The role of software and nerdiness in the Iron Man franchise

Category: Linux,Screenwriting   — Published by goeszen on November 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I've noticed that within the Iron Man films, particularly in part 1 and 2, our hero Tony Stark is rendered as having capabilities within electro-mechanical as well as software fields. And that's remarkable. Even at the first occasion where we witness Tony Stark's wizardry - remember the scene, in the cave - a bulky laptop is needed to boot the suit. Software has become an inherent aspect of technological aggregates. And a master of technology has to be a master of the physical as well as of the more airy, metaphysical, non-hardware aspects of an invention - that is: software.
In Iron Man part two, Tony Stark takes over the displays in a court hearing, for a split-seconds we see hacker geekery on screen in the form of an ASCII art rendition of a greeting of sorts, coming from one of his programs successfully sneaking in to the court system.

Since the Internet has become mainstream, pervading our daily life in every aspect imaginable, the concept of nerdy loners doing computers, or hackers and other outsiders from the computer science field, seems to have vanished. "Doing computers" is far more accepted than it used to be. The perception of technology, and of technologically adept people (ex Nerds) has changed. Using the Internet and using computers for everyday tasks, and the ability to do so, advanced to be assumed as common knowledge. Even being able to code is becoming more of a basic qualification! Kids in school receive encouragement to learn to code - just check out organisations like

And with that comes change in mainstream media. In films, the "computer expert" is allowed to be cool. The portrayal of computer nerds has changed. Although, these types are depicted as a bit eccentric or quirky at times, the general direction is that this is usually a sign of genius. John Connor in Terminator II - cool and tech savvy, hey, he's sort of a Messias. On the other hand, just remember the depiction of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Does this prove me wrong? Definitely he's rendered as this oLd skEwl hacker cliché type. But then there was the sociable Napster guy, an all around outgoing person. Zuckerberg just confirms the rule: Being a nerd is no more a result of "knowing computers" but more a result of "how a person is", as a personal trait of character in itself.

As such, it's no surprise that Tony Stark in the recent Disney/Marvel  films is a character of the new millennium: he can be confident, vain, cool and at the same time be the genius kid, eccentric at times, a selfmade DIY persona fluent in programming and savvy in mechanics. Sort of "Maker Movement"'s poster boy. The last time a computer savvy guy of that degree was cool on screen - and it was a bold move at that time - was Kevin Flynn in the original TRON.

Leave a Reply