I Am (dramatic pause) ... Enviro Man

Important note: The following reveals “spoiler” information from the blockbuster movie Iron Man, another tediously derivative action film that’s indistinguishable from other recent action films, except for the fact that it is just SO COOL! —The Editors

At a surprising moment in Iron Man, the principal character breaks the unwritten rule of superheroes and reveals his secret identity. For much of the movie he had fought evil concealed in a form-fitting metal suit, which, if nothing else, was an advertisement for the need for talcum powder when flying at supersonic speeds in metal long underwear.

Then, at the end of the film, he stands before the gathered media and just blurts out, “I’m Iron Man.” The actor is Robert Downey Jr., who in real life has considerable experience standing before various groups, usually consisting of police or judges, and blurting out, with conviction, “Those aren’t MY drugs,” or “I promise to do better, if paroled.”

The producers could have milked the secret identity thing for several sequels (after three episodes of Spider-Man, Peter Parker’s secret identity is known only by his girlfriend and roughly 2 billion of the rest of us). Instead, they chose to reveal Iron Man’s secret, apparently so he could ­ease the loneliness of working for the common good without recognition or reward.

I understand this need. Because I, too, have a secret identity and have traveled across our great land working tirelessly not only for humankind, but for the very future of the planet itself. And now the truth can be told.

I am Enviro Man.

Or, possibly, Environment Man, or maybe EnvironMent-O, although that sounds like a breath mint, so forget that. When it comes to choosing your superhero name you’ve got to come up with one before the public takes a look at you and misses the point entirely: “So, you’re like, Leotard Boy, or what?”

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Sojourners Magazine August 2008
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