If the nominations for the 35th Annual People’s Choice Awards are to be believed, 2008 is the year of the fascist action hero. The People’s Choice categories vary from year to year (in 2007, there was actually a trophy for “Favorite Threequel,” which went to Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End) and this year’s nominees reflect, to some extent, the limited multiplex options available to whomever it is who votes for these things. Still, it is disconcerting to see that The Dark Knight, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Iron Man will vie not only for the title of Favorite Action Movie, but also for Favorite Movie, full-stop.
Sound of the City has already said its piece w/r/t The Dark Knight; and as for Indiana Jones, suffice to say that in the categories of both Favorite Superhero and Favorite Male Action Star, Harrison Ford, who is still fighting the Cold War for crissakes, was squeezed out by Will Smith, as the vandalizing, dipsomaniacal Hancock. As for Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as billionaire war profiteer cum vigilante Tony Stark is undoubtedly one of the year’s finest. But this same performance was also a depiction of a civilian protagonist who, acting on no one’s authority but his own, twice during the film summarily executes a score of terrorists. Like The Dark Knight, Iron Man advocates a definition of justice that, I had thought, the people—although not, apparently, the ‘People’—had voted against last Tuesday.—Benjamin Strong