published Thursday, May 16th, 2013

In Tune: Iron Man or Iron-y Man? Does it matter?

I fully intended to spend this column crying foul over the "shameful" misrepresentation of Chattanooga's Internet speeds in "Iron Man 3." I even thought up a clever headline days in advance as I stewed in righteous indignation.

Once the ridiculous lines of the opening weekend finally abated and I managed to see the movie, however, I found myself wondering "What's the big deal?"

The controversial scene arises halfway through the film when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) tries to hack into a secure network from a Chattanooga news van only to find that the Internet connection is too slow.

Of course, this being "Iron Man," the problem is solved through a combination of comic-book magic and the intervention of the Norse gods -- or something. Minutes later, Stark puts Chattanooga in the rearview mirror of his sponsorship-deal-approved Audi and never looks back.

The issue, obviously, is that, had this scene actually taken place in the real Chattanooga instead of some trumped-up, facsimile in North Carolina, Stark presumably would have used our gigabit-capable fiber-optic network to hack in without issue.

Or so we grumpily assume.

Yes, the Internet here is stupid fast, but the van was on a remote network, which easily could have been on a slower connection. Not everyone is an EPB customer, and few people are willing to spring for full gigabit speeds. Personally, I make out just fine on an entry-level 50-megabits-per-second connection.

Marvel/Disney's seeming ignorance of our Internet prowess had many people, myself included, angrily knee-jerk Tweeting in all caps. The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce even wrote about the discrepancy in a news release that was picked up by national publications such as CNET, Forbes and PC Magazine.

Me? I chuckled at how low-impact the mistake was and enjoyed the rest of the film. I mean, what's the point of arguing realism and semantics in a movie that throws around words like repulsor beams and arc reactors without batting an eye?

Would it have been nice if Chattanooga's network had saved the day? Sure. Did we manage to eke some attention out of the error? Yep, though I hesitate to applaud whining to the rest of the country.

At the end of the day, Chattanooga is featured in a major blockbuster about one of my favorite comic characters. Accurate or not, that definitely makes my "cool" list.

Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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