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The Shadow in “Iron Man”

by MoviesPlusBooks 7 months ago in superheroes · updated 7 months ago
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A brief look into the man behind the curtains

Obadiah Stane accepts Tony’s prize

Tony is receiving an Apogee award for his personal achievements and the success of his company, Stark Industries. This is a real award given to successful individuals, and the trophies they receive have a variety of interesting designs.

The trophy is a globe at the head of a column. The column seems to be made of two inverted pyramid-like objects intersecting. This object and the recognition that come with it are the reward for his unrivaled ingenuity.

His true prize, though, is the world itself— a world simultaneously defended by, and at the mercy of the advanced weapons systems built by his company.

This prize is not earned, however. It’s been handed to him by the passing of his father, Howard Stark.

Tinsel curtains

Before he accepts the award, Obadiah sits with a large audience and watches a tribute to Tony. His expression is not one of jealousy so much as one of patient irritation.

Tony is Stark Industries’ glittering wit and smile. He may be a genius, but his role at the corporation is closer to that of a merchant. He does, however, own the company, and has the final say on its direction.

He is volatile, and his values shift rapidly between his personal projects, his job, and his aloof, playboy lifestyle. There is potential still locked up inside him, making his final say concerning the direction of Stark Industries unpredictable.

Behind Tony’s thin veil of persona, Obadiah is running the show. His rigid grip on the world is threatened, however, by Tony’s sleeping kernel of transformation. Such a grip will be cemented if he could only unseat Tony from his throne.


The award ceremony is being held at Caesar’s Palace. On the podium, a gold seal with the head of Julius Caesar, the man whose life became the birth of the Roman Empire.

Stane stands behind the podium, like an emperor who is reclaiming a world that must belong to him. Behind him are sparkling curtains.

At this point, Stane has already organized Tony’s assassination.

The history of the Roman Empire has plenty of stories involving scheming and betrayal, as political rivals clamored to control Rome’s legions spread across Europe. While they had their differences, I’m sure Rome’s leaders all agreed that The Roman Empire’s role in the known world was to free it from the “darkness of barbarism”.

It was the assassination of Julius Caesar that led to the end of the Roman Republic, and the creation of the Roman Empire.

It’s interesting to note that Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, emphasizing the desire to control the awareness of time.

With Stark soon to be out of the picture, so too is the potential for any transformation. Stane will rest assured that the old, violent, crumbling attitude behind the present world’s “balance” can continue for at least another generation in the form of a constant threat of fire raining down on the population’s head.


The name “Stane” is rooted in “Stan”, an old English word meaning “place at the stones”. It may also be connected to an Old Norse name “Stein” meaning “stone”.

Obadiah means “Servant of God” in Hebrew, and (though no direct connection was found) calls to mind the word “obey”.

The Hebrew God is Yahweh, a “storm-and-warrior deity who leads the heavenly army against Israel’s enemies.”²

Yahweh is responsible for both creation, and destruction — two fundamentally opposing aspects of a divine Creator that were later pulled apart from their conceptual unity in Yahweh, and recast into to separate beings (God the creator and Satan the destroyer, or Christ and Antichrist) in more modern forms of Christianity.

It was Yahweh that sent the flood to wipe out a corrupt world in the Old Testament.

Stane is a servant of an old order. His demeanor doesn’t betray ambition or a search for fame and glory, but rather someone who’s on a mission.


Shadow is the yin aspect opposed to the yang aspect

Jungian analysis classes as ‘shadow’ all that which the subject refuses to recognize or admit… which dominates him or her, directly or indirectly, through traits of character… This shadow is projected in dreams in the shape of persons who are simply reflections of the unconscious self. The shadow is also displayed in impulsive and unpremeditated words or actions which suddenly reveal an aspect of the psyche. The shadow makes the subject more sensitive to certain individual or collective influences which arouse and reveal in him or her hidden tendencies. These are not necessarily harmful, but they run the risk of becoming so the longer they remain repressed in the shadow of the unconscious.

The Stark family crest can be spotted behind Tony on his private jet. Within the crest, a black, two-headed eagle that has a long history being associated with empire⁴. The two heads correlate with the image of Stark Industries, or even the Stark name itself, as being composed of a being and its shadow. According to the article, however, the symbol carries the notion of dominion over matter and spirit, or over “secular and religious matters”⁵.

Obadiah is not Tony Starks shadow, but rather that of his father. He is a dark manifestation of Howard Stark’s better intentions, and on a desperate mission to preserve the relevance of the old way of keeping the balance.

He pursues this objective in a calm, almost sleepy manner. There’s a hushed inevitability behind his actions as he seizes the Stark death machine from Tony distracted hands.

Tinsel: from the French word estenceler “cover with sparkles or stars”.³

Stane holds the world in his hand. In his mind, he is the world's protector, its guardian angel defending it from the tides of chaos. He shares this quality with Tony, who is on a twelve-hour flight to the desert to demonstrate the destructive power of his weapons.


The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols,



All images from


The War in “Iron Man”


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