Current events often lurk below the surface of fantastical films—it's no secret, for example, that Avatar reflected America's unsavory imperialism (/Pocohontas?) Early audiences of Iron Man 2 are noticing a slightly less predictable allegory: Jobs vs. Gates.
I'm not sure what it says about our collective imaginations when our escapist superhero epics are drawing inspiration from Silicon Valley bigwigs, but it seems like that might be the case, with at least one early viewer finding unmistakable parallels to the turn-of-the-millennium tech landscape in the upcoming film. In this reading, Stark is the Jobsian figure, and his nemesis, weapons manufacturer Justin Hammer, stands in for Bill Gates. Here's what a TechCrunch reader who was privy to an early screening had to say:
I just came from watching IM2, and the whole Stark=Jobs, Hammer=Gates is NOT subtle. The relationship as the public sees it, is right there. Hammer is Bill with better hair. And Tony Stark is………. the movie starts with him giving a keynote speech on a Stark expo. Should I say more? And RDJr's facial hair makes him resemble Jobs even more (it makes his face look slimmer). It's pretty cool and almost distractive.
You may be thinking, as I was, that those examples are not entirely (or even kind of) persuasive. Plenty of people speak at expos and plenty more have facial hair. But the case gets a little stronger with this bit from Newsarama about Sam Rockwell, the actor who plays Hammer:
Another newcomer to the set, Sam Rockwell, is portraying weapons manufacturer Justin Hammer. What little we saw of him in the trailer hints at a fast-talking sleaze ball. The actor says Hammer's relationship with Stark is similar to the rivalry between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
Hmm! So it would seem that the production team was at least aware of these parallels, even if Robert Downey Jr's facial hair is entirely his own. Does this mean that Iron Man 2 was written by Apple fan boys? Will Iron Man 2 replace that Ryan Phillipe hacker movie as having my favorite thinly-veiled Bill Gates depiction on film?! Is Whiplash Steve Ballmer!?!??!
Probably not (though feel free to continue this amusing allegory-extending exercise in the comments.) We'll have to wait until next week to see if the parallels are anywhere as strong as this early report suggests, and it seems likely that this is one of those cases where people will always convince themselves of something they want to be convinced of, like Paul McCartney being dead back in the 60s or 2pac being alive in the 90s. Regardless, I'm already looking forward to Iron Man 3 in which Hammer totally burns Stark by saying his new armor is only "OK." [TechCrunch]