Are you a fan of the Iron Man movies? I recently watched Iron Man 3, and found the latest installment in the series highly entertaining and somewhat thought-provoking. Since I do not wish to ruin or spoil it for those have not seen the movie, I will not get into the details. However, as a nerdy planner, I would like to share some thoughts and observations about the Iron man series from an urban planning perspective.
Tony Stark’s House
Isn’t Tony Stark’s house amazing? Its state-of-the-art design and prime location in Malibu make this residence an absolute dream home. “Dream” or “fantasy” may perhaps be the most appropriate word to describe the house because in reality, it cannot be built where it is shown in the movies. Stark’s huge mansion is set on Point Dume at the edge of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and was given the fictitious address of 10880 Malibu Point. While the interior shots of the home were filmed on real sets, the house itself is entirely fictional. Because Point Dume is a state park, construction on its cliffs is prohibited. The home was created as a 3D model and digitally placed on the rocks in post-production. Even if Point Dume is not protected lands, it is hard to imagine that the California Coastal Commission would grant a coastal development permit for the construction of such a large structure along the scenic coast. And even if the home was permitted, the City of Malibu probably would not issue a home occupancy permit or any type of permit for the heavy duty work Stark does in the basement, i.e. experimenting and building the Iron Man suits. Permits aside, if you are wondering how much the Stark mansion would be worth, Movoto Real Estate estimates its value at $117 million or $4,690 per square foot (see this listing).
Doesn’t Stark Expo sound and look a bit like Tomorrowland? Howard Stark, Tony’s father, even looks like Walt Disney! As we learned in Iron Man 2, Stark Expo 2010 was a convention held in Flushing Meadows, New York to demonstrate “better living through technology.” You can even check out a website with wonderful renderings of the Expo facilities here. The first Expo was organized in 1974 by Howard Stark who called it the “City of the Future.” The idea of a special event showcasing technology and futuristic ideas is fascinating, especially for a planner like me. While Stark Expo is a fictional event, Tomorrowland does exist and offers Innoventions which allow visitors to experience the latest technologies, with hands-on, interactive exhibits, games and shows. Since April 2013, Innoventions has been home to the Iron Man 3 Exhibit which allows guests to get a rare, up-close look at the sophisticated Iron Man suits of armor as they walk through an exact replica of Tony Stark’s Hall of Armor. Innoventions also offers a 5,000 square-foot home of the future and shows how the technology of today and tomorrow can seamlessly interconnect within the home, the surrounding community, and the whole world.
J.A.R.V.I.S. is Tony Stark’s artificially intelligent computer and is programmed to speak with a male voice in a British accent. Few people may know it, but it actually stands for “Just A Rather Very Intelligent System.” Don’t we all wish we have a J.A.R.V.I.S. in our lives? I was especially amazed at how it scanned and digitized the 3D model of the first Stark Expo. Can you imagine having such a powerful tool at the office and seeing how it can make our job as planners easier? Specifically, wouldn’t it be helpful to have J.A.R.V.I.S. scan maps submitted by applicants and then project them in 3D so that we can better visualize and analyze projects? After all, who wouldn’t want a highly intelligent, multifunctional system that employs a highly advanced user interface with holographic peripherals and voice input, and communicates data back to its user via speech audio, holographic displays and conventional LCD monitors?
Iron Man Suit
The Iron Man suit or armor is the fictional powered exoskeleton worn by Tony Stark when he assumes the superhero identity of Iron Man. Although Stark’s wide array of armors have many different abilities, they are alike in that they are made of incredibly strong materials bolstered by a force field. Every suit has a self-contained environment, assorted onboard weapons systems, enhanced strength, flight, and various communication tools and sensors (such as radar and radio). Furthermore, they typically have multiple power sources including a secondary solar energy collection function in the event that conventional recharging methods are unavailable. Older versions of the armor could also fold virtually flat, allowing Stark to store them in a briefcase. So, how does this suit relate to urban planning? Well, it really doesn’t. However, planners would probably find the armor helpful when they need to circumvent L.A. traffic to get to a meeting across town or when they are in need of protection from angry participants at community meetings. With the disrespect and verbal attacks planners are subject to at times, the Iron Man suit may come in handy.
The Iron Man films are fun and entertaining. As a planner, I just couldn’t help but make the nerdy and random observations and connections above between the movies and the field of planning.
Iron Man 3 theatrical poster from Wikipedia
Point Dume from Wikipedia
Tomorrowland from Wikipedia
Iron Man armor from Wikipedia