"Fusion is fifty years away, and always will be? I hate that joke. I'm really trying to get it out of the English language." Dennis Whyte, director of MIT's Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, and winner of the 2013 Nuclear Fusion prize, may get his wish, as his talk (1h38 YT) demonstrates. [more inside]
A Starkly Different Iron Man: Black, Female, And 15 Years Old [NPR.org] Her name is Riri Williams. She reverse-engineered her own version of the Iron Man battlesuit in her MIT dorm room, got kicked out, and struck out on her own to do the superhero thing. Clumsily at first, but she's learning fast. So fast she's impressing Tony Stark, who's questioning his status as the Marvel Universe's go-to, super-powered Campbell's soup can. Readers first met her in the March issue of Invincible Iron Man. [more inside]
Six years ago, the comic book adaptation Iron Man premiered in US theaters, kickstarting the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In 364 days is the premiere of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the MCU's eleventh completed film. To wallow in mild nostalgia, here's the original theatrical Iron Man trailer, plus Robert Downey Jr.'s screen test for the role. For another little blast from the past, this CNN Money article from May 2007 recounts Marvel's financial woes and checks out those ambitious Hollywood plans with a cautious eye. [more inside]
Undecided on election day? Sat through all the debates and still not sure who's right and who's wrong? What you're really looking for is an endorsment by people you can trust completely, you can look up to, true heroes? Well, J. Caleb Mozzocco has taken the trouble to interview a representative cross section of superheroes and is starting to see a pattern. [more inside]
"I asked [Bono] why, in his opinion, [Tony] Stark couldn’t be content with charitable work à la Bill Gates, shaping the world with his billions. "You have to understand these guys," was Bono's one-line reply. "Bill's software. Stark's all hardware." Vanity Fair profiles a year in the life of Tony Stark, and asks what the literal and figurative ascent of the inventor/playboy/superhero means for 21st Century geopolitics. Is Iron Man "the embodiment of an outdated American fantasy -- a self-made, unilateral, technological solution to hopelessly complex problems"? Or is he merely the improbable but logical outgrowth of one young man's vast wealth, careless hedonism, prodigious intellect, and strained familial and mentor relationships? Christine Everhart examines the political implications and personal motives of Stark's quest to beat swords into plowshares -- while profiting from the retrofits. [more inside]
...even after five agonizing years of the Iraq War, a summer blockbuster isn't prepared to say that not only is its action hero is corrupt, he's corrupt because America has become corrupt.
Iron Man, who represents an imperial America, can only win Pyrrhic victories. Spencer Ackerman of Tapped Online has a nice history of the Iron Man comics that reads the character's alcoholism, Civil-War overzealousness, and persistent blundering "into a hell of unintended consequences" as a symbol and subtle critique of American exceptionalism and what Jonathan Schell among others has called "impotent omnipotence".