The Iron Giant

Work Title: The Iron Giant
Medium: Film
Episode Title:
Year: 1999
Writer(s): Hughes Ted
"Original" Writer: Yes Writer(s): McCanlies Tim
"Original" Writer: Writer(s): Bird Brad
"Original" Writer: Own work?: No


In October 1957, after the Russian satellite Sputnik is put into orbit, an enormous robot from outer space crashes into the ocean near Rockwell, Maine. The robot makes it inland and wanders into the forest. Nine-year-old Hogarth Hughes soon discovers the robot one night. The robot begins eating the powerlines of an electrical substation, then gets electrocuted. Hogarth shuts down the power, saving the robot, and returns home. Several days later, Hogarth makes it his mission to find the robot and take a picture. After hours of waiting, the robot surprises Hogarth, who soon befriends him. Suffering amnesia, the Iron Giant accompanies Hogarth wherever he goes. When they come across a railroad, the Giant starts eating the rails. Hearing an oncoming train, Hogarth tells the Giant to repair the tracks. As he does, the train collides, breaking him to pieces. The Giant's parts start to reassemble, and Hogarth hides the damaged robot in his house's barn, where the parts can repair themselves.

Later, after dinner with his widowed mother Annie, Hogarth reads comic books to the Giant. The Giant is impressed with Superman, but discovers the comic 'Atomo the Metal Menace'. Hogarth reassures the Giant, "You are who you choose to be". In the meantime, a U.S. government agent named Kent Mansley arrives, discovers possible evidence of the Giant and decides to make several leads. Finding Hogarth's BB gun near the substation, Mansley takes a room for rent at Hogarth's home and follows the boy around, hoping to learn more. Hogarth evades Mansley and takes the Giant to beatnik artist Dean McCoppin's junkyard. Hogarth soon has to discuss "death" with the Giant after they witness hunters shoot a stag in the forest. Paranoid about alien invasions, Mansley alerts the U.S. Army to the presence of the Giant. When he and General Shannon Rogard, backed by the Army, forces the investigation, Dean reveals the robot disguised as a work of scrap-metal art. Rogard admonishes Mansley and leaves. Later, Hogarth plays with the Giant using a toy gun, which automatically activates the Giant's deadly laser eyes. Dean saves Hogarth and commands the Giant to leave. Thinking that the giant never meant any harm, Hogarth runs after him. Dean realizes the Giant was only reacting defensively. He catches Hogarth with his motorbike as the Giant reaches the town.

In Rockwell, the Giant saves two boys from falling to their death, to the amazement of witnesses. The Army then sees the Giant, returns, and attacks. The Giant flees with Hogarth and flies away, but is shot down by an F-86 missile. After crashing, the Giant thinks the unconscious Hogarth is dead; he activates his energy weapons and battles the outmatched Army. Mansley lies to Rogard telling him that the robot killed Hogarth and suggests he can be destroyed out at sea with a nuclear bomb from the USS Nautilus. Hogarth wakes up, and reassures the Giant, causing him to deactivate his weapons. Dean says that the Giant never harmed anyone. Seeing Hogarth alive, Rogard has the Army stand down, but Mansley orders the missile-launch. Rogard reminds Mansley that the missile, currently targeted on the Giant, will also kill everyone in the city. Mansley disrespects their country and attempts to flee, but the Giant stops him, and the Army captures Mansley. Hogarth tells the Giant about Rockwell's impending demise and the Giant makes the decision to fly off, smiling to himself that he chooses to be Superman. The Giant collides with the missile, causing a massive explosion high in the atmosphere and saving the town. The townspeople are happy to have survived, but are saddened by the robot's sacrifice.

Sometime later, Annie and Dean have become close and Dean has built a statue in the park to honor the Giant. Hogarth receives a package from Rogard, a small bolt, the only piece of the Giant ever found. That night, Hogarth hears a familiar beeping coming from the bolt, which is trying to get out of the window. He opens the window to let the bolt out. Somewhere on the Langjökull Glacier in Iceland, parts of the Giant approach where his head rests, as he wakes up and smiles.

Era/Year of Portrayal: distant_past

Distinctive characteristics of the world in portrayal:

1957, cold war between Russia and USA. Everything that are not made in America are considered as dangerous objects.


  • Name of portrayed presence-evoking technology: Iron Giant
  • Description of the technology: A huge metallic battle robot that can read and understand humans. The robot read a comic book "Superman." The robot can moves without other external power sources. The Iron Giant is huge but does not aware the abilities that he can do. Learn the humans society from Hogarth and events that he experienced. The robot showed warm hearten behavior to humans.
  • Nature of task or activity: General talking and gestures
  • Performance of the Technology: The robot seems to be designed to be used for battle, but the robot completely does not have the mission to fight when it first discovered.
  • Description of creator(s): Neutral, but has some male characteristics after reading Superman
  • Major goal(s) of creator(s): Unknown
  • Description of users of technology: Children
  • Type(s) of presence experience in the portrayal: social_presence
  • Description of presence experience: People first scared The Iron Giant, became friends, and then appreciate the sacrifice that The Iron Giant made.
  • User awareness of technology during experience: Yes
  • Valence of experience: Children loved the interaction with The Iron Giant, but adults showed suspicions and discriminations
  • Specific responses: The Iron Giant sacrifice itself for humans' life. "You are who you choose to be"
Long-term consequences:

People appreciate the Iron Giant and have more open mind to others


Coder name: Hocheol Yang
Coder email:
Coder affiliation: Temple University