The Iron Man / The Iron Giant by Ted Hughes (Paperback)
Now, This is just an opinion, please don’t start freaking out because this is a classic book… Hear me out!
The well-known USA animated movie, THE IRON GIANT was based off of a 1968 kids book called THE IRON MAN. It was renamed for the movie because “Iron Man” was already a superhero franchise in the USA. I saw the movie first, and it was one of those stories that stuck with me, and probably helped spur my love of contemporary science fiction today.
The original book by Ted Hughes was a cute story about a big robot that shows up and starts eating tractors. The townspeople, sick of losing their tractors trap him in a big hole. After he escapes, they lead him to a junkyard where the Iron Man is more than happy to sit around eating cars and other metal junk all day, every day. Then a space dragon the size of Australia shows up and the Iron Man needs to save earth (with an odd contest, not a fight). (Note: the book is only about 70 pages long with REALLY BIG type and pictures. I finished it in under half an hour)
While I do applaud Ted Hughes’s vision of a simple, non-violent story for kids, I have to admit that the adaption for film was a lot more fun. The introduction of the psycho FBI Agent and the government wanting to find and destroy the Iron Man added what I consider a much more realistic element. And while the relationship between Hogarth and the Iron Man is hinted at in the book, their friendship really comes alive in the movie. And that ending… wow, sooooo much more satisfying that a non-aggressive “who is stronger that who” contest at the end.
Hughes’s original book was about peaceful existence and tolerance for all. The move delved deeper. While still having a profound theme of tolerance for those who are not like you, it also really pushed friendship, and believing that you can overcome all odds to be who you want to be, rather than who everyone thinks you are.
For me, the movie touched on what I deal with as a person every day, where the original book seemed more of a political statement. Again, yes, I applaud the original author’s intent for peaceful existence for all; but in the end, I’d rather show a little realistic violence and learn a message that people of all ages can apply to everyday life.
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I love The Iron Giant! Brad Bird, the director, put together an amazing story. The family dynamic and forces judging from outside it really resonates. I’d note these are the same themes in his equally-awesome Incredibles.