Bear with me a minute.
So to recapitulate my Iron Man argument really quickly: Shellhead is a critique of American imperialism. Starts off in a Cold War context. That gives rise to the inevitable Soviet attempts to build their own Iron Man — the somewhat inept Crimson Dynamo. The critique eventually gets rolling and subversive in the 70s, when Marvel introduces the “rot within” storylines, making Stark’s playboy lifestyle accelerate his decline and expose his proclivity for category errors and disastrous counterproductivity. Anyway. Like I say, this works a lot better in the Cold War context.
But what now? Now you’ve got a movie on its way, with Mickey Rourke evidently as a Russian scientist determined to out-gizmo Tony. So Tony gets Rhodey to War Machine up and they’ll inevitably overcome their obstacles. America fuck yeah.
Is that a movie I want to watch? … Well, yes it is, so my argument kind of collapses. But! A movie I’d prefer to watch would have a villain turning Tony’s cloudy reasoning and technological superiority against him. Iron Man’s enemy is The IED Network. The IED Network, a faceless cabal, uses a $26 off-the-shelf hack to neutralize Tony’s Repulsor Rays and then finds ways of sniping at him to compel irrational behavior, like blowing up parts of Los Angeles or turning his surveillance infrastructure on the civilian populace in the name of hunting down the culprit. Before long, the IED Network has leveraged its technological inferiority into an attack on Iron Man’s legitimacy, dividing Iron Man from the American citizenry that previously adored him. Will our hero be able to recover? Or will he and War Machine be viewed as threats to those they seek to protect?
Mickey Rourke could still be in the movie, I guess. I’d prefer the IED Network to be run by the Hydra, especially for the sexual tension between Tony and Madame Hydra, and for the ersatz ideology Hydra could present.