Iron Man -- the movie

Aside from the fun explosions, Iron Man wanders blithely alongside a discussion of ego/fame and body modification. In the film, our hero mods his body to achieve what his mind desires (embedding a power supply, hacking on an exoskeleton). While it sure looks dangerous, he pulls it off with nary a comical crash.

So what's the difference between this and other dangerous body mods (read BulemiaMaintenance)?

For the longest time, we humans have modified other animals to tailor them to a function. With sometimes adverse effects (witness Eight Belles), we pushed them into molds of our design. It seems a foregone conclusion that we would do the same to ourselves (baseball and biking purists remain nevertheless aghast).

We can try to solve this from the tech side by making modification simpler and safer, but that ignores (just like Iron Man) the role that the ego plays, i.e. why do we want to change anyway?

Iron Man, already having money, seems to have done it for the sake of more fame ("I am Iron Man") and the power to undo his perceived previous wrongs. If we simply dropped the "righting old wrongs" part of the story, and he did it just for the fame, would we no longer cheer?

We will only see more of this as we find more ways to tweak our bodies; with society hurtling towards a modifiable future, where you stand will matter.

I don't know which movie you saw dude, but I watched a lot of ass-kicking and grinning like a retarded monkey. -- Nathan
yes, I too enjoyed the weapon tech. ;) -- Patrick.
Iron Man? I watched it for Pepper Potts.

Tony Stark wouldn't be quite as interesting if he just did it for fame, but part of his character I enjoyed was his sarcastic wit all along and his bluntness with the media at the end. Bruce Wayne hides in the shadows, but Tony tells them who he is. It was a nice change. -- Cal