Yes, I’m a comic book nerd, and I’m mostly a DC girl despite how aggressively the company seems to be destroying their legacy and their brand these past few years. But this post isn’t about that. It’s about someone who honours all that is best in one of the most iconic characters in popular culture. One who was shaped to be one thing, but chose to be another. Chose to be kinder. To be a hero.
I’m talking about The Iron Giant. If you’ve never seen the 1999 animated movie (directed by the endlessly excellent Brad Bird), stop reading right now. Find the movie. Watch it. Cheer, cry, flail your hands about. Watch it again. Continue reading.
This movie hit the scene when animation was seriously rolling over to full CGI. The Iron Giant was mostly hand drawn, but according to IMDB this was the “first traditionally-animated feature to have a major character – the title character – who is fully computer-generated.” It was also the first animated movie to reduce this grown woman to ugly, wracking, heartbroken sobs while lying on a couch recovering from the flu.
I’m sure there’s a statue of limitations regarding spoilers on a 16 year old film, but I’m going to err on the side of caution. Nutshell: Space race is underway. America is paranoid. Sputnik is terrifying. Widower is doing her best to raise her sweet and science-minded son, who befriends a mysterious, enormous robot. Images to follow MAY BE SPOILERY.
The animation is lovely.
The design of the titular character is glorious.
The narrative beats are perfection.
At the heart of the story is the notion that we are who we choose to be. You may be shaped for a specific purpose, told you don’t have an option. You can follow that path. You can, without question, do as you’re told.
Or you can be more. You can be better. You can build rather than destroy.
You can be Superman.