Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 147

his friend Clerval, and his wife Elizabeth. Frankenstein meets his own death while chasing the monster into the Arctic Circle. Pop culture versions of the Fantastic Machine prove just as darkly ambiguous. In the 2006 film The Illusionist, the stage magician Eisenheim, with his elaborately created illusions, wins his childhood sweetheart Sophie, the Duchess von Teschen, from her fiancé Prince Leopold, but only by framing Leopold for a murder he did not commit. In Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, Lady Eboshi enlists a leper colony to create a lighter, deadlier gun to defend the people of Iron Town. But she also uses her new gun to decapitate the Forest Spirit, the leader of the deities that protect the wilderness around the humans. In Haruki Murakami’s Hard- Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, the old scientist whom we first encounter in his underground workshop can give the human mind both supercomputing abilities and the fantastic inner world of the core consciousness. However, all of the subjects to whom he has given these powers have died, and the narrator, the last surviving subject, cannot avoid death either, despite the scientist’s efforts to save him. In the movie version of Iron Man, Tony Stark creates his first suit in an Afghanistan cave (the underground lair) to escape a band of terrorists (he flies away, like Daedalos and Weyland) and then builds a wardrobe of improved suits in his Malibu workshop (another underground lair). But he owns a company that churns out advanced weapons for the American military. Ironically, it is after demonstrating one of his missile systems in Afghanistan that he is wounded and captured by the terrorists, who are using his own weapons. At times, the ambiguity is displaced into humor. As told in the Odyssey, the story of how Hephaestos uses an invulnerable net to catch his wife, Aphrodite, in bed with the war god Ares ends with the Olympian gods laughing at the lovers. In recent popular culture, Nickelodeon character Jimmy Neutron, in several TV episodes and a full-length movie, devises inventions in his underground laboratory. When it comes time for Jimmy to put them to the test, though, they fail spectacularly. Another example is Hiccup, the protagonist of the movie How to Train Your Dragon, who invents a tail wing for Toothless, the injured dragon he eventually befriends. But at the beginning of the film, in his rush to use his bolas cannon to capture one of the dragons attacking his village, he causes widespread damage. Even in Iron Man, Tony Stark has several crashes while testing the new features of his suit. The Blacksmith as Secondary Character The storylines discussed above characterize the Blacksmith as the protagonist. The Blacksmith may also appear in a secondary role—frequently as the weapons master of another 147