Current events often lurk below the surface of fantastical films - it's no secret, for example, that Avatar reflected America's campaign in Iraq. 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 that seems to be exactly the case, with at least some early viewers finding unmistakable parallels in the upcoming film. In these readings, 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 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, to some extent, Iron Man 2 is inspired by the tech titans, even if Robert Downey Jr's facial hair is all of 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 favourite thinly veiled Bill Gates depiction on film?! Is Whiplash Steve Ballmer!?!??!
I don't know. We'll have to wait to see if the parallels are as strong as that early report suggests, but I'm already looking forward to Iron Man 3 in which Hammer says Starks' new armour is only "OK". [TechCrunch]