I watched Iron Man 3 (2013) with my son, and we both enjoyed it. While the original Iron Man (2008) and The Avengers (2012) were nuclear movies (see the earlier post here), Iron Man 3 surprised me by including oil as a prominent plot factor.
Two themes run throughout the movie: 1) addiction, and 2) the idea that we create our own demons.
Addiction takes many forms, including drug addiction and addiction to power. And characters regularly ruminate over the question of whether addicts can regulate their intake. The movie opens with Tony Stark discussing how he created his own demons, and the movie returns to that idea on multiple occasions later on.
Late in the movie, oil emerges as background context for the final showdown in the form of looming threats from a Middle Eastern terrorist mastermind. The movie suggests that we are addicted to oil and that our addiction has created demons in the form of political corruption, power plays, terrorism, geopolitical conflict, and global perceptions of what is good and evil.
The solution proposed? Technology.
This is not a surprise, as it’s the typical American answer. In fact, it’s echoed in our national policy. In his 2006 State of the Union Address, President Bush made the following comments:
“Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology.”
In the United States, the paradigm for handling our energy addiction is to replace oil with a less volatile, domestic resource. Essentially replacing a bad drug with a less toxic one. Research and development in technology always enable this transition.