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Western Animation: The Iron Giant

Directed by Brad Bird (who was one of the original directors of The Simpsons and would later move on to work for Pixar), The Iron Giant is a critically-acclaimed animated film from Warner Bros., based on Ted Hughes' novel The Iron Man (not to be confused with that one). It is about a giant robot (the eponymous Giant) who falls to Earth in 1957, and a boy named Hogarth who befriends him. Hogarth tries to hide the Giant from the public (particularly due to Cold War-era paranoia), especially a persistent government agent named Kent Mansley. But the Giant has a very mysterious past of his own, and if things get out, the Cold War may just go hot...

Despite earning overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, the movie was a failure at the box office, thanks mostly to the disastrous marketing of the film by Warner Bros. The studio later did a 180 and gave it a marketing blitz on home video instead, and the movie's gathered a large cult following since then. Much of its following also comes from Cartoon Network, which used to run the film in annual all-day marathons on Thanksgiving.

The movie was produced by Pete Townshend, who loved the original story and had previously done a Rock Opera based on it.

The Synopsis is here, but beware of spoilers.


This film contains examples of:

  • Absent Aliens: The aliens that built the Giant are never actually seen or mentioned, with the action focusing on the Giant's adventures on Earth.
  • Adapted Out: The film follows Ted Hughes' novel's first half and builds upon it. The latter half involves The Iron Giant and Hogarth attempting to deal with an enormous extraterrestrial, a Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon, who arrives on Earth because he's excited by man's war-song, and wants to join in.
  • Adorably Precocious Child: Hogarth.
  • Adult Fear: You had to work late, so you left your young son alone at home... with the man who just started renting a room from you yesterday. A man with ulterior motives.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: The Giant landed in Maine, a state not known for Humongous Mecha.
  • Alliterative Name: Hogarth Hughes.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: That educational film shown in Hogarth's class, telling people that they can survive a nuclear blast by ducking and covering their heads, is based on a real thing.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: The Giant is implied to have this, as he is capable of incredible destruction. A deleted scene implied that he probably had destroyed entire planets before his crash landing on Earth, well in contrast to his childlike and innocent persona in the film proper.
  • Amusing Injuries
    • At one point, Mansley is rear-ended in his car and slams his face into the windshield, making visible cracks. There isn't a mark on his face, and he comes out of the car screaming a couple of seconds later.
    • Also, when Annie and Mansley walk in on Hogarth "using the bathroom", Annie slams the door shut very quickly in embarrassment, smashing Mansley's face in between the frame and the door. Ouch.
  • An Aesop
    • "You are who you choose to be."
    • Also "unchecked paranoia is bad."
    • Also, "It's bad to kill. Guns kill."
  • Answer Cut: When Mr. Stutz says that he really did call the government and that they were sending someone to investigate, Dean asks, "Who in the hell would the government send?" Cut to the power plant where Kent Mansley gets out of his car.
  • Anti Anti Christ: A deleted scene in the film, as well as the nature of the Iron Giant's weapons, heavily implies that the Iron Giant was originally created to destroy planets, and that either he was just one out of a huge line of robots who were created for this purpose or had managed to destroy quite a large amount of planets prior to arriving on Earth. However, the Iron Giant eventually manages to reject going down/continuing down this path.
  • Arm Cannon: Among the Giant's plethora of weapons, also the first one he deploys when he goes ape-shit on the Army.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Mansley rhetorically asks Hogarth if he knows who built the Giant. "Is it the Russians? The Chinese? Martians? Canadians?"
  • Artistic License - Military: Several times Mansley barks orders at soldiers with the General present and the soldiers just follow those orders without checking with the superior officer. Yet the General never steps in and says he's in charge of the military aspects of the mission until it's too late. There is one point when the Giant is coming into the town (for once not shooting at anyone) and the soldiers ask the General for orders.
  • Artistic License - Nuclear Physics: "My Nuke Is Going Critical" version. When the Iron Giant intercepts and rams the nuclear missile fired by the Nautilus up in the ionosphere, it detonates. Nuclear weapons are specifically designed to fail to detonate if something goes wrong before they reach the target point. There should have been a much smaller, rocket-fuel explosion.
  • Ascended Extra: Hogarth Hughes only had a small role in the original book.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption
  • B-Movie: Hogarth watches a particularly hammy movie about killer brains. They even replicated the rather questionable acting abilities of the performers that typically appeared in such films.
  • Bad Bad Acting: In the B-Movie Hogarth was watching.
  • Badass Adorable: Despite being 50 feet tall and possibly even sent to pulverize Earth, the Giant's childlike naivete about the world makes him an endearing hero.
  • Bambification: The film makes a rather jarring transition from a lighthearted A Boy and His X story to an anti-weapons moral after Hogarth and the Giant discover the deer.
  • Batman in My Basement: Hogarth has a giant robot in his barn.
  • Beatnik: Dean, though he's portrayed more sympathetically than actual films of the 1950s would have shown him.
  • Berserk Button: Never ever point a gun at the Giant. It's also a somewhat bad idea to kill Hogarth. He might decide to knock off the pacifism and just start tearing your military a new asshole.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The ultimate example of why you should never, ever piss off the Gentle Giant.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Hogarth's nosebleed established for the audience that these characters are not Made of Iron. However, when a deer takes a lethal bullet wound, nary a drop of blood is seen. Similarly, the government agent's Amusing Injuries are all of a non-bleeding type.
  • Book Ends: The movie begins and ends with beeps. At the beginning, the beeps are courtesy of Sputnik. They were heard again later on at the very end, but it turns out they're coming from the Giant as he reassembles himself in Iceland.
  • A Boy and His X: Hogarth and the Giant.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": At one point, the Giant declares "I Superman!" and adorns his chest with a giant S. A minute later, he showcases the bad side of the Man of Steel with a case of Red Eyes, Take Warning. And then, at the end...
  • Butt Monkey: Mansley. He deserves every second of it though.
  • The Cameo: Former Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston appear as railroad workers early in the film, telling Mansley about the giant. Brad Bird even got Frank and Ollie themselves to voice their inksuit cameos!
  • Cassandra Truth
    • Earlier in the film, Hogarth's mother doesn't believe him when he tries to tell her about the robot. He later chooses to keep it a secret.
    • Mansley gets blown off by the general when he tries to phone him about the Giant's existence. Later, when he is finally capable of producing evidence, Hogarth and Dean get the one-up on him by disguising the Giant as one of Dean's pieces of metal art. Though Mansley is vindicated when, after being fired by the general for his supposed incompetence, the Giant appears in public in full view of the military convoy.
  • Centrifugal Farce: Hogarth and the Giant are playing test pilot with an old car. The Giant spins the car a little faster than Hogarth imagined.
  • Check Please: Invoked by Dean at the start of the film after he unleashes a squirrel on the diner.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Early in the film, Hogarth is trying to take a photo of the Giant, but gets bored while waiting for the Giant to appear. During a Time Passes Montage, one of the clips shown is a quick gag in which Hogarth cleaning the lens of his camera only to accidentally take a picture of himself. Later, Mansley discovers the camera and develops the photo that Hogarth accidentally took of himself, revealing the Giant looking over Hogarth's shoulder, thus finally giving Mansley photographic evidence that the Giant exists.
    • The "duck and cover" educational video is played as satire early, but Mansley takes the advice seriously after he has the missile launched on the town. The general lets him know there's no way to survive that.
  • Chest Blaster: A straight example.
  • Cold War: The entire film is couched in the paranoia and fear of the Cold War.
  • Conspicuous CGI: Very notably averted; the necessity of cost-effectively and realistically portraying a metal man led to the Giant being rendered in 3D. The animators went out of their way to add slight irregularities to the lines while rendering the Giant to make it fit in more, with spectacular results.
  • Covers Always Lie
    • The VHS and DVD cover for the film had Hogarth (in the Giant's hand) wearing a powder blue sweater, which he doesn't wear in the actual movie (he just wears a red-and-blue-striped sweater for most of the movie).
    • Averted with the 2004 Special Edition DVD, which has a completely different cover where more emphasis is placed on the Giant and Hogarth is depicted in the form of a silhouette.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The giant's Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Once his weapons are fully deployed, it becomes The War of the Worlds all over again for the military.
  • Curse Cut Short: As the two kids fall off their balcony.
  • Cute Giant: The title character himself. This would probably fall under What Measure Is a Non-Cute? as well.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dean.
    Dean: That's for sure.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Mansley launching the nuclear missle to kill the giant. See Nice Job Breaking It, Hero and Idiot Ball below.
  • Die or Fly: The Giant has this in spades.
  • Dieselpunk/Raygun Gothic: The Giant himself, is composed of both of these aesthetics.
  • Dirty Coward: Mansley, after dooming everyone in the town thanks to his own paranoia, tries to bolt out of town and leave his fellow citizens to die in favor of saving his own skin. He doesn't get far.
  • Disappeared Dad: The picture of Hogarth's father in a plane is intended to imply that his father was a pilot that died in the Korean War. The helmet and bomber jacket Hogarth puts on when he goes after the Giant in the beginning? Those are his father's.
  • Disaster Dominoes: "I wanna apologize to everyone in advance for this..."
  • Disney Death: One of the few times it was pulled off well.
  • Diving Save: Dean does this to protect Hogarth from the Giant who automatically responds to Hogarth's toy gun with Eye Beams.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Okay, everybody will admit that the Giant transforming into a killing machine with crazy alien weapons is totally badass, but you know... killing machine.
  • Dodge by Braking
  • Doesn't Like Guns: The Giant, who is also quick to show that he isn't one. Despite the fact that he is made of them.
  • The Door Slams You: Sort of. When Annie forces open the bathroom door on Hogarth after he had forced the Giant's hadn out of the window and was sitting on the toilet pretending to use itand shuts the door again seconds later, she slams Mansley's face in the door by accident.
  • Double Take: Mansley pulls this off when, while remarking that Hogarth is an embarrassing name, he has a sudden realization that the words "Hog... Hug..." on the shattered B.B. Gun stood for "Hogarth Hughes." And later when he sees the Giant [[in Rockwell, seconds before crashing his car.]]
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower: The President is seen, though only the top of his head, when the General was convinced to use the bomb.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: SUUUPERMAAAAN!
  • Empathic Environment: The film's mood becomes darker as the season makes the jump from Fall to Winter.
  • Eureka Moment: After stopping by Hogarth's house, Mansley drives away while commenting on his name. This leads him to realize who owned the mangled "Hog Hug" BB gun found at the wrecked power plant: Hogarth Hughes.
  • Everything's Nuttier With Squirrels: The variety that like to crawl up people's pants.
  • Extreme Omnivore: The Giant thrives on a diet entirely of metal. A lot of it. So Hogarth decides to hide him at a junkyard.
  • Eye Beams: The Giant has these, though they're only shown in one scene. It's when he automatically acts in self-defense from Hogarth's toy gun.
  • Face Death with Dignity: The soldiers, Rogard, and a fair portion of the townspeople are surprisingly chill about the fact that they're about to get nuked off the map. They've been told this day might be coming for years. Mansley, on the other hand, panics and tries to run.
  • Fair Weather Patriot: G-man Mansley. When the General says that they are going to die for their country, Mansley reacts with "Screw our country! I want to *live!*" and turns tail.
  • The Fifties
  • Foil: Dean is very unconventional and hip, while Mansley portrays the ideal manly man of the time - a hard-boiled detective type with a steel jaw. Dean is also a LOT faster on the uptake and more flexible than Mansley. Although he does make the mistake of trusting Mansley to do the right thing...
  • Foreshadowing
    • If you pay attention to Hogarth's Atomo comic, you'll notice that it bears a somewhat eerie resemblance to the Giant's combat mode in his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • Also, in the scene where the Giant discovers the dead deer, and notices the gun, he briefly gains red eyes while his "irises" narrow before snapping out of it. This is the first sign that the giant was actually a weapon.
    • And the part where Hogarth watches the movie with killer brains in it (see B-Movie above), towards the end the army are forced to defend against The Iron Giant which has become a monster with 3 brain like objects (along with other weapons) on it.
    • While on the phone with Mansley, General Rogard mentions that if he somehow got a photo of the Giant, then he could get some troops over. Guess what happens later in the film...
    • After the Giant almost vaporizes Hogarth, Dean calls the Giant 'a big gun that walks.' Considering what happens when the army has to retreat after the Giant starts to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge after he believes Hogarth is dead...
  • Four-Fingered Hands: The Giant only. But then, he IS an alien (and a robot).
  • General Ripper: Subverted with General Rogard. He has the appearance and mannerisms of your standard Cold War psychotic, but turns out to be a Reasonable Authority Figure who quite clearly distrusts Mansley and calls off the attack when it is finally revealed that the Giant only attacks defensively. Mansley, however, more than makes up for the expected psychotic tendencies.
  • Gentle Giant: The Movie
  • Giant Hands of Doom: Sort of: After the Giant's first on-screen repair function is displayed, it is later revealed that he didn't quite take into account all of his body parts. It turns out that the left hand sneaked into Hogarth's house, forcing the boy to create a lot of distractions to keep his mother and Mansley from seeing it before it can rejoin the Giant.
  • Giant Robot
  • Giant Robot Hands Save Lives: The titular robot races to catch a couple of kids who had fallen from a 3-4 story building in his metal robot hand. Though when he caught them his hand seemed to be barely a meter or two off the ground, so one wonders why he even bothered...
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: The Giant creates one when he does a cannonball into a lake, though it's mostly for laughs as no one is seriously harmed.
  • Go Out with a Smile
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Surprisingly averted. Then again, this isn't strictly a kid's movie.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Mansley. Subverted in that he barely did any actual fighting against the benign Giant, and when he did, he nearly killed them all.
  • Helping Hands: All parts of the Giant, even little tiny screws, can move by themselves, converging for repair and reassembly.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Giant does this to save Hogarth's entire town from a missile.
  • He's a Friend: "His name is Dean; we like Dean."
  • Hollywood New England: The film is set in coastal Maine. Don't look for any of the characters to sport anything approaching an actual Downeast accent, however.
  • Homage: This movie may be a big one to The Fifties, with pop-cultural references to the era looming behind every corner. There are music boxes with swing and jazz, there's Mansley, who is a dead ringer for Richard Feynman, there is Dean, a beatnik, named after James Dean, there is the town of Rockwell, named after Norman Rockwell, an obvious expy of John Wayne movies that General Rogard watches, just to name a few. That doesn't even include the meta!
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: Implied with Dean and Annie.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Giant being a sentient, non-piloted version.
  • Humanoid Aliens: Hinted at by the Giant's design and backstory; not shown.
  • I Am Not a Gun: Trope Namer.
    Giant: No Atomo... I, Superman.
  • Idiot Ball: Mansley plays around with it for the majority of the movie. It's the finale where he firmly grasps it by ordering the nuclear strike on the giant. While he's in the same town full of innocent civilians as said giant. Note that the general actually warned him only minutes before about this.
    Rogard: ...That missile is locked onto the giant's current position! WHERE'S THE GIANT, MANSLEY?!
    Mansley: *Looks up as though he'd actually forgotten, cringing and sucking air in through his teeth as he realizes just how utterly he done goofed.* ...We could duck in cover!
    Rogard: There's no way to survive this, you idiot!!!
  • In Name Only: The film has little-to-no resemblance with the original novel.
    • Not even that: they changed the name too.
  • Info Drop: The film makes no mention of what happened to Hogarth's dad, but during Hogarth's standoff with Kent, a picture of a fighter pilot is seen on his nightstand, and the audience is left to fill in the blanks.
  • Ink-Suit Actor
    • Dean is just an animated version of Harry Connick Jr. Seriously, there's no difference at all.
    • Same with Frank and Ollie's cameos.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Hogarth and Dean.
    • And technically Hogarth and the Giant. Although his amnesia makes his precise origins unknown, unless he's able to travel between stars quickly, he's likely very old. His ability to self-repair makes his true age even more impossible to accurately guess.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Hogarth's grades are high enough to skip a grade; he mentions that he gets bullied for it.
    • Dean as well, who appears to be considered a bit of a kook by the rest of the town for being a Beatnik artist.
  • Interrupted Cooldown Hug
  • Invisible President: Sort of. In a very brief scene after the giant is found out, two high-ranking officers enter the Oval Office, and address a man, who sits behind the president's desk to request authorization to make use of Navy and Air Force (you can take a look at it here). The man is sitting with the back towards the the camera, but has a visible bald patch on his oval-shaped head. Therefore it is very obviously President ''Ike'' Eisenhower, who actually was president during the time the film is set (1957), albeit the fact this movie is a clear case of Alternate History. He is the only real person in the whole movie.
  • Ironic Echo: Throughout the movie, Kent Mansley uses the phrase "and all that that implies." Later, after Hogarth outwits him by disguising Giant as one of Dean's pieces of art, Hogarth watches Mansley leave with the army and says, "Bye, Kent, and all that that implies."
  • Jerkass: Mansley
  • The Juggernaut: Tank shells, battleship guns, and even a nuclear missile can't destroy the Giant completely. All but the last are nothing but a Worf Barrage. If he had stuck to his original programming, he would be completely unstoppable. The missile would have only slowed him down.
  • Just Train Wrong: The locomotive that plows into the Giant looks very similar to a Norfolk & Western Class J, complete with maroon stripe, with a front end similar to a New York Central "Dreyfuss" Hudson. Two things wrong with that, aside from the locomotive not really existing. Neither of those railroads went to Maine, and both of those locomotives were used exclusively in passenger service.
  • Kid Hero: Hogarth, though he's a very likable variation in that while he acts like a normal kid (mischievous and fun-loving), he possesses a surprising level of emotional maturity.
    • It's mentioned in passing that part of the reason the other kids in his class consider him a "Poindexter" is because he was moved up a grade after constantly getting A's, suggesting this is why he's unusually perceptive for a nine-year-old.
  • Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films: "The Brain That Wouldn't Die!"
  • Large Ham: Mansley again.
  • The Last Horse Crosses The Finish Line: See the Eureka Moment example listed above.
  • Laxative Prank: "Landslide. It's new. Very new."
  • A Light in the Distance: In the Giant's first scene, a fisherman mistakes the lights of its eyes for a lighthouse. It's actually kind of spooky.
  • Lock and Load Montage: When Hogarth prepares his hunt for "invaders from Mars" at night.
  • Locked In The Bathroom: Hogarth hides the giant's lost hand in the bathroom from his mother and Kent. After he gets it out the window, he pretends to be in the toilet when Mom and Kent force open the door.
  • Male Gaze: Kent's first meeting Annie happens with him staring right at her hips and chest, due to her opening the front door fully, with him leaning on it.
  • Meaningful Echo
    • "You...stay. I...go. No following."
    • "You are...who you choose to be."
  • Meaningful Name: The town of Rockwell named after the idealistic artist of the period, the beatnik Dean looking slightly like James Dean, and the ever-so-manly Kent Mansley.
  • The Men in Black: Mansley. Originally portrayed as some faceless, bumbling bureaucrat with a poor worker-boss relationship. Later on, he turns into a very dangerous Man in Black with the power to disappear anyone at any time with no repercussions. Or so he would have Hogarth believe.
  • Misguided Missile
  • More Gun: The Giant.
  • Motor Mouth: Hogarth, twice - once in the scene where he has an espresso and the other when the Giant's hand flushes the toilet upstairs and he says: "Gottausethebathroom".
    "So she says 'No, you need a challenge.' Well, I'm challenged, all right, I'm challenged to hold on to my lunch money because of all the big mooses who wanna pound me because I'm a shrimpy dork who thinks he's smarter than them — but I don't think I'm smarter, I just do the stinkin' homework! If everyone just did the stinkin' homework then they could move up a grade and get pounded too — is there any more coffee?"
  • Mr. Fanservice: Dean, the handsome artistically inclined beatnik with the voice of Harry Connick Jr.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The Giant's reaction after realising he nearly vaporised Hogarth by accident.
  • Never Say "Die": Very bluntly averted, almost defied.
    Mansley: You mean... we're all going...
    Rogard: To die, Mansley. For our country.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: From a certain point of view since Mansely did have good intentions. But he panics and nearly brings nuclear death on the area. Rogard puts it bluntly...
    Rogard: That missile is targeted to the giant's current position! Where's the giant, Mansley?!
  • No Respect Guy: With huge helpings of Ted Baxter on Mansley's side. He deserves exactly the respect that he's given.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted to great effect, though still tastefully, when Hogarth gives Mansley a large dose of laxative.
  • Noodle Incident: "Do you remember the raccoon, Hogarth? (shudder) I remember the raccoon."
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Invoked derisively early on by Mansley when a local asks him if the sighting of the giant means that "something big" is happening. He soon changes his tune.
    Mansley: No, Marv. Big things happen in big places, and the sooner I file my report, the sooner I can get back to them.
    [later to himself]
    Mansley: The biggest thing in this town is probably the homecoming queen... OH MY GOD!!!
  • A Nuclear Error: The film's climax features the USS Nautilus launching a nuclear-armed ballistic missile; the Real Life Nautilus was incapable of doing so - it was a normal attack submarine (albeit the first powered by a nuclear reactor). The United States Navy did not have any ballistic missile submarines at all until the USS George Washington entered service in 1959, two years after the film is set. At the time, the USN's nuclear deterrent force were the guided missile submarines USS Tunny and USS Barbero, firing Regulus cruise missiles.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Mansley.
  • Oh Crap: The movie uses a lot of this.
    • At the beginning, Mr. Stutz realizing that what he thought was the lighthouse isn't the lighthouse at all.
    • Hogarth witnessing the Giant chewing up some metal towers, then reaching for the live ones...
    • When Mansley sees the Giant staring at him and not looking very happy.
    • Mansley, upon realizing that he's doomed himself and the town of Rockwell to a nuclear incineration.
    • When the giant snaps and starts popping tanks like popcorns, Mansley and the two soldiers in the jeep with him have a moment of complete slack-jawed horror.
    • Also, Dean's reaction when he discovers the Giant pigging out just as he was about to enter back into his house.
    • And then there's Hogarth's reaction when he notices the Giant about to vaporize him with Eye Beams while in defense mode after he aimed a toy gun at him.
    • A rare humorous one was right after the Giant cannonballed into a lake. Dean, who'd been studiously ignoring Hogarth and the Giant, looks up...and sees a mini-tsunami headed his way. Cue the Oh Crap.
  • One-Winged Angel: When the Iron Giant feels threatened, he turns into a much less humanoid war machine.
  • Organ Autonomy: Pieces of the giant will return to him when summoned.
  • Papa Wolf
    • Thinking of harming Hogarth within Giant's eyesight? You're in for it.
    • Dean's no slouch, either. His first reaction to seeing the Giant is to protect the kid. He also chews out the Giant after he (the Giant, not Dean) nearly vaporizes Hogarth by accident.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Annie does not seem to have the faintest clue that Hogarth unabashedly despises Mansley, and has been desperate to avoid him since he moved in. She goes so far to suggest Hogarth take Mansley around and show him the sights. Whether this is true obliviousness or just Annie wanting her son to accept they have to rent the spare room for money is not clear. As he starts to show his true colors, she quickly begins to dislike him.
  • Parental Substitute: Dean is a father-figure/mentor to Hogarth. Hogarth himself has a fatherly/big-brother relationship to the giant robot in the title, who has the mentality of a very young child.
  • Perma Stubble: Dean
  • Planet Killer: The deleted Dream Scene shows that the giant is supposed to be this. Even without the scene, the film itself, especially during the giant's rampage, heavily implies that this was what he really was.
  • Precision F-Strike: Mansley's hearty "Screw our country!"
    • General Rogard gets an even bigger one during the robot's rampage.
    General Rogard: All battleships fire at the robot! Now! Now, damnit, now!
  • Properly Paranoid: Mansley intends to track down and destroy the Iron Giant since he believes it to be a threat to America. He's ultimately right, as the Iron Giant is eventually revealed to be what is heavily implied to be a Planet Killer: his mistake was assuming that just because the Giant had that capacity, it would automatically use it.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: The Giant does this at the end after he is apparently destroyed, though it was foreshadowed earlier in the film when he re-assembles himself.
  • Quizzical Tilt: Giant does this a few times.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: General Rogard.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Mansley's planned fate according to General Rogard when Dean was initially able to trick the military into thinking that the giant was simply a harmless piece of artwork.
    Rogard: You'll be Chief Inspector of Subway Toilets by the time I'm through with you!
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Played terrifyingly straight.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation: This film came out at the tail end of it.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After the army begins attacking him, the Giant flees with Hogarth and tries to avoid giving in to his programming, but he gets shot down, and it looks like Hogarth has been killed. While grieving, the Giant gets shot again, and he snaps - willingly and fully giving in to his programming. He even roars when he transforms. That mechanical, inhuman scream of rage will make you shudder.
  • Rule of Symbolism: After the giant's saving of the town, the nuclear blast looks a lot like the star of Bethlehem.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: What Mansley says near the end of the film, learning that the nuke that he just launched at the Giant is also going to wipe him out along with everyone in the town.
    Mansley: Screw our country! I wanna live!
  • Shout-Out
    • The movie contains at least one nod to The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming - the two boys with the binoculars falling off the balcony is straight from the movie.
    • There are also numerous references to Superman.
    • Hogarth also mentions The Spirit as one of his comic books. Brad Bird is a huge Spirit fan (he also referenced the Spirit in The Incredibles).
    • "Hogarth? That's an embarrassing name. She might as well have called him Zeppo or something."
    • The Western that General Rogard was watching when Mansley was contacting him was the exact same one the Dalmatian puppies were watching in Disney's 101 Dalmatians.
    • The "scary movie" that Hogarth was watching was a shout out to the cheesy sci-fi movies of the fifties (more specifically, The Brain from Planet Arous).
    "No. Augh. Aaaaaaah."
    • Likewise, one of the weapons on the Iron Giant when he goes berserk in vengeance for the apparent death of Hogarth heavily resembles the cannons used by the Martian war machines in The War Of The Worlds 1953.
    • Hogarth's last name is Hughes, no doubt a nod to Ted Hughes, the author of the original book.
  • Shown Their Work
    • Especially regarding cars, architecture, pop culture, and clothing styles of the 1950's.
    • Hogarth's comic covers are all genuine (save for Atomo, who was made up for the film).
    • With the exception of the Nautilus' missile capability (see A Nuclear Error above), all the military hardware is period-appropriate. The soldiers carry M1 Garands, drive Patton tanks, and the jet planes in the Superman scene are F-86 Sabres.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Hogarth's mother is the only main female character in the film.
  • The Spook: The Giant. We never find out where he is from.
  • Squirrels in My Pants: By name, and preceded the official Trope Namer.
  • Starving Artist: Dean. At one point he grumbles that turning the scrap in his junkyard into art actually makes it worth less.
  • Stealth Pun: Dean directs the Giant to make a mobile (hanging children's toy) out of cars.
  • Suddenly Shouting: "This... is junk. What you currently have IN YOUR MOUTH IS ART!"
  • Technology Porn: When the Giant repairs itself, and when it is attacked by the Army and deploys its weapons.
  • Telescoping Robot: One of the straighter, and more haunting, examples.
  • That Poor Car
    • Invoked on-screen: Hogarth discovers Dean's junkyard, and decides the Iron Giant can have some food there. Unfortunately, one of the cars the Giant tries to eat hadn't had its alarm system removed yet, resulting in it going off when the Giant tries to eat it, and several failed attempts to silence it before the Giant eventually chucked it at the house as a last resort.
    • In some trailer spots, they make it seem as though the reason why Dean was getting Hogarth to flee is because the Iron Giant was about to unknowingly eat the alarm-rigged car.
  • There's No "B" in Movie: Hogarth watches one inspired by The Brain From Planet Arous. It was the 50s...
  • Three Star Badass: General Rogard stays absolutely in control during the battle with the Giant, at one point shooting at him with his pistol. Compare this to some of his more panicky subordinates, and especially Mansley.
  • Time-Compression Montage: While Hogarth is in the forest trying to get a picture of the Giant. One of the clips shown during the montage turns out to be a Chekhov's Gag.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailers make it seem as though Dean discovered the Giant, and tried to get Hogarth away from the Giant when he was about to eat an alarm-live car. In actuality, the Giant eating the alarm-live car occurred before Dean discovered the Giant, and even then it wasn't from the live alarm.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: One of the theatrical trailers spoils the Giant going into defense-mode.
  • Trans Atlantic Equivalent: The original novel was set in Britain. For The Iron Giant, the setting was transplanted to Maine.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Hogarth seemingly dies. Ladies and gentlemen, the Berserk Button has been pressed.
  • Up, Up and Away!: The Giant doesn't have to do this to fly, but Hogarth insists on it.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Mansley, who gets more and more freaked out as the situation develops, finally culminating in ordering the town to be nuked, then trying to run away.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Hogarth and the Giant question whether he has a soul.
    Hogarth: Things die. It's part of life. It's bad to kill. But it's not bad to die.
    Giant: You die?
    Hogarth: Well, yes, someday.
    Giant: I die?
    Hogarth: I don't know. You're made of metal, but you have feelings. And you think about things. And that means you have a soul. And souls don't die.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Kent Mansley with this line: "Hogarth? What an embarrassing name. Might as well call him Zeppo or something. What kind of sick person would name a kid Hoga- " Cue Eureka Moment.
  • Wing Pull: The Giant skids off a cliff and appears about to plummet into the ocean...until rockets in his feet automatically ignite.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Subverted, the Giant easily could be if he was not so docile.
  • You Just Told Me: How Annie tricks Dean into telling her Hogarth sneaks off to his junkyard every night.


ImmortalScience Fiction Animated FilmsInterstella 5555
The Hunchback of Notre DameThe Renaissance Age of AnimationThe King and I
Hong Kong PhooeyCreator/Cartoon NetworkJabberjaw
Saints RowThe FiftiesMoral Orel
InvictusCreator/Warner Bros.The Island
Inspector GadgetFilms of the 1990sJakob The Liar
Quest for CamelotAnnie AwardA Bug's Life
The Devil's ArithmeticNebula AwardThe Matrix
Oblivious AdoptionImageSource/Animated FilmsGentle Giant
Toy Story 3Hugo AwardChicken Run

alternative title(s): The Iron Giant; The Iron Giant
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