Abstract: Isn’t Technology Marvel-ous? Iron Man, Vietnam, and the Military Industrial Complex

Will Cooley

Abstract

On January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his farewell address.  In it, he cautioned that Americans must guard against the “unwarranted influence” of the military-industrial complex as a threat to liberties and democracy.  Yet two years later, Marvel Comics introduced Iron Man, a superhero that personified the military-industrial complex.  In the comics, Tony Stark, an engineer and industrialist, uses his Iron Man suit to battle an assortment of villains, including many Communists.  Iron Man not only echoed a cultural belief in might and technology, but also helped produce this confidence by giving readers an example of the power and necessity of the military-industrial complex.  The disastrous Vietnam War proved otherwise, but for the real-life Tony Starks the war was a profit-churning boon.