Thursday, September 04, 2008

Movies with MIT and my long lost twin brother

On my plane flights to and from Canada, I was lucky to have planes with on-demand movie screens built into the seat back. On the way up, I watched half of Iron Man. I was extremely curious about this movie because I recently learned that the fictional character Tony Stark graduated in my MIT class of 1987.

Tony Stark with Brass Rat
Image from Matt McGann's MIT Admission blog.

According to the Wikipedia bio:
Anthony Stark was born on Long Island, the son of Howard Stark, a wealthy industrialist and head of Stark Industries, and Maria Stark. Tony is a boy genius, entering MIT at the age of 15, and graduating at the top of his class.
Wait a minute! I'm from Long Island and entered MIT at the age of 16. Stark could be my long lost twin brother (OK, Irish twin)! Alas, in the movie he graduated at 17, which I find highly unlikely as even this girl genius needed the full four years to graduate. And no, that is not our class ring, as the profile of the MIT skyline was incorporated only in later years.

On the way back, I was looking forward to seeing the end of the movie, but it wasn't offered. So I did the next best thing and watched another movie about MIT, 21. The opening sequence of shots around the campus immediately took me back to the old days. But as soon as they went inside, it wasn't MIT at all. Or at least the MIT I remember. No 26-100 or 10-250 or all the old quaint classrooms with wooden pull-up desks in building 3 for Course 2. Just some generic college classrooms with Kevin Spacey as a professor.

Photo from 21
Image Peter Iovino—Columbia Pictures from The Tech.

I only watched half of this movie as well, so now I gotta watch the rest of both movies. It was great to finally see my twin brother and catch a glimpse of MIT again.

October 7, 2008 - edited to add:
I recently read in my alumni magazine that some of the original members of the MIT blackjack team appear in the film including Jeffrey Ma, '94, who is the real-life basis for the character Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess).
Jeff Ma '94, the inspiration for the main character in both the book and the movie, appears as a Las Vegas dealer, and Henry Houh '89 (who has five MIT degrees, including a PhD) plays a dealer in a card house in Boston's Chinatown. Albert M. Chan, SM '99, PhD '04, also makes a cameo appearance as a card dealer, and iRobot cofounder Colin Angle '89, SM '91, plays Professor Hanes, who calls out the winner of a robot competition.

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