Some Trailer Trash
I. There must be something archetypal about the “man-machine.” Robots appear in Homer, believe it or not, in Hephaestus’ workshop (Illiad, Book XVIII). Comic books are filled with man-machines, from Robocop to Iron Man. Were I to speculate, I would say that the man-machine intrigues us because we know we are machines, yet we find this hard to accept. Sartre called it our “facticity,” if I recall correctly, and even though J.P.’s febrile brain was addled with amphetamines most of the time, I think he nailed this one (he also nailed inauthenticity). Now we have Robert Downey, Jr., as Iron Man. I love old Black Sabbath, but even a great theme song isn’t going to save this bucket of bolts from the scrap heap.
II. “Overcoming the monster” is another archetypal story, from Gilgamesh to Jaws to Alien. Beowulf is a decent retelling of the story, at least as Seamus Heaney re-writes the tale. Now Robert Zemeckis brings us Beowulf: The Comic Book Version with Angelina Jolie and Her Asymmetrical Nipple. This looks absolutely 1985. Check out Grendel, who looks a bit like Freddy Krueger after an acid peel that went terribly wrong. From Forest Gump to Forest Grendel? What’s going on, Bob?