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|“||Kent Mansley, I work for the Government.||„|
|~ Kent Mansley introducing himself.|
|“||LAUNCH THE MISSILE NOW!||„|
|~ Kent Mansley's mental breakdown as he orders a missile to destroy the Giant, so deluded by his paranoia that he did not notice it would kill the whole town with it.|
Kent Mansley is the main antagonist of Warner Brothers' 1999 animated feature film The Iron Giant. He is a paranoid federal government agent who was sent to investigate a gigantic iron robot coming from outer space and into Rockwell. However, he secretly plans to boost his career once he gains evidence of the Giant's existence.
Kent Mansley is a handsome, clean-cut, and generally good-looking man presumably in his mid thirties or forties. Well above the average height of other characters, he is thin and relatively large compared to Dean. He has fair skin and auburn hair with a very pronounced chin and light blue eyes. Throughout the film, he generally wears a grey suit with either a normal coat or dark grey trench coat and a dark grey fedora with a crimson tie and white collared shirt along with black leather shoes. While at the Hughes' home and interrogating Hogarth about the location of the Giant, Mansley wears a green blazer, with a red tie, the same white collared shirt and yellow slacks along with brown leather shoes instead of his grey suit, crimson tie and black leather shoes.
Although suave, respectful and well-mannered on the outside, Kent Mansley is a paranoid, cunning, self-centered and manipulative agent with a hunger to further his own career. Scripted as a lowly agent in Washington, Kent has spent most of his life as an unnoticed federal government agent working in a cubicle. With the possibility of a "monster" in Rockwell, Kent hopes to advance his career and become a hero by destroying the creature lurking in the woods of Maine. Through his charm and charisma alone, he is able to fool both Annie Hughes and General Rogard into trusting him, proving his power of manipulation. However, like many villains, Mansley is very relentless and harsh in his quest to seek his ultimate goals; contrastingly, he is also afraid. Mansley mainly exemplifies the era of Cold War fear over the creation of the Soviet Sputnik 1; he does not care who created the Giant or whether it is actually dangerous: it must be destroyed for the safety of humanity. However, his paranoia is also his greatest weakness, as his own foolishness causes him to launch a nuclear missile toward Rockwell and its citizens in his attempt to destroy the giant.
Mansley also appears to be rather aggressive, quarrelsome, cantankerous, argumentative and quite short-tempered as well. As time passes, Mansley's techniques become more vicious in desperation to find the giant. Mansley not only harasses Hogarth for his knowledge of the Giant but openly loses his temper and corners Hogarth on two separate occasions. After finding a photograph of the Iron Giant, Mansley even traps Hogarth in the shed by his home and interrogates him, while his mother is away at work. He even threatens to take Hogarth from his mother to pry the information he needs out of him, before cruelly knocking him out and trapping him in his room to prevent him from helping his friends. His cruelty is only rivaled by his cowardice though. Even after dooming the city of Rockwell, Mansley refuses to take note of the town's fate and tries to escape Rockwell in order to save himself, leaving the rest of the citizens to fend for themselves and likely perish.
Kent first appeared following an unidentified object that has landed near the city of Rockwell and fed through a power relay station. He heads over to investigate the incident himself, where he finds a broken BB gun, unaware of who it belongs to. He is later seen at a railroad crash, where two engineers explain that they saw a giant robot man (known as the Iron Giant) before the collision on the tracks. At first, Kent does not believe them, but is shocked to see his car chomped off (presumably by the Iron Giant himself).
Kent goes over to Annie Hughes' residence to use their phone, where he explains his discovery to General Rogard. However, Rogard doesn't believe him, but suggests to Kent that he get some evidence first before hanging up. Eventually, Kent learns that the BB gun actually belongs to Annie's son Hogarth (the protagonist of the film), so he decides to rent a room in the Hughes residence to keep a close eye on the boy, much to the latter's anger. Eventually, Kent manages to get hold of a picture of Hogarth and the Giant, so Kent interrogates Hogarth of the Giant's location, threatening to have him permanently removed from Annie's care if he refuses to oblige. Dejected, Hogarth confesses that the Giant is currently in the local junkyard owned by an old friend and beatnik artist named Dean McCoppin. Delighted by this, Kent chloroforms Hogarth and confines him to his room (even nailing his window shut to prevent him from escaping). He sends over the evidence to Rogard, who agrees to send in some soldiers to the junkyard tomorrow morning. Satisfied, Kent confines himself to his room, keeping a close eye on Hogarth all night. However, it is revealed that Hogarth snuck out and made a decoy in his room while Kent fell asleep.
The next day, Kent brings over Rogard and the soldiers to the junkyard to capture the Giant. However, Dean manages to have the Giant pose as an art sculpture to avoid attention, resulting an angry Rogard to berate Kent for wasting millions of dollars over a silly investigation. Rogard then tells Kent to pack up and leave for Washington to face dismissal. However, the town becomes aware of the Iron Giant's existence after he was forced to reveal himself to save two boys from falling from a balcony. Spotting the Giant walking through town before crashing his vehicle, Kent points him out to Rogard and the soldiers, lying to them that the Giant is attacking the town (though the citizens don't consider the Giant as a threat as they witnessed him rescuing the boys). This led the army to attack the Iron Giant with their gunfire, forcing the Giant to run off with Hogarth in his hands. However, the Giant is struck down by several aircraft, allowing Kent and the army to close in to his location. Upon seeing Hogarth having seemingly died from the gunfire and Kent ordering the soldiers to continue shooting, the Giant was forced to activate his self-defense mechanism to fight back. Kent even took the opportunity to lie to Rogard that the Giant killed Hogarth in order to authorize a missile launch to the robot's current position from a nearby submarine. Fortunately, Hogarth regains consciousness and arrives to calm the Giant to his normal state while Dean informs Rogard of the self-defense mechanism that the Giant can't control. The Giant then presents Hogarth to the army to prove that he's not a threat, making Rogard realize that Kent lied to him. However, Kent doesn't care and demands Rogard to launch the missile at the Giant, but Rogard refuses and instead orders his men to stand down, as he doesn't want to provoke the Giant into attacking them again.
Rogard then tries to call the submarine to abort the missile launch, but Kent (still believing that the Giant is a threat) refuses to back down and instead snatches Rogard's radio, ordering the submarine to fire the missile at once. As the missile is launched, Rogard angrily berates Kent, informing him that it will result not only the Giant's death, but also the destruction of Rockwell (since the Giant is still residing in the town, and the missile is locked on the Giant's current location). Kent turns to see the Giant standing five feet away from him and groans as he realizes his foolish mistake. He suggests that they can duck and cover in a fallout shelter, but the General furiously tells Kent that survival is impossible and that they are all going to die for their country. The cowardly Mansley refuses to take any regard in the town's fate and instead renounces his patriotism before trying to escape from Rockwell on a stolen jeep. Fortunately, Kent is stopped by the Giant, who then allows Rogard's soldiers to hold Kent before the Giant had to sacrifice himself to the missile in order to save Rockwell.
It is unknown what happened to Kent afterwards, but it is presumed that he was removed from his position permanently and was arrested and sent to prison for his crimes and treachery.
- Although it is never mentioned in the film, Mansley is said to work in a small windowless office on Capitol Hill and his desire to catch the Giant stems from his want to further his own career.
- In the original script, Mansley was troubled by the peeling "Bureau of Unexplained Phenomena" emblem on his car and had to fix it manually, illustrating the neglect and insignificance of his position in the eyes of the government.
- Originally, Mansley was supposed to meet Annie Hughes at the Chat n' Chew Diner after overhearing the waitress saying Hogarth had told the children that he went to the power plant the night of the incident.
- Kent appears to have been originally scripted to woo Annie Hughes more than he does in the film to appear as the perfect father figure, much to Hogarth's irritation.
- In an alternate ending, Kent was told by General Rogard that he was "under arrest... and all that that implies" as a crack at his signature phrase.
- Tommy Lee Jones, Alec Baldwin, the late Burt Reynolds, James Woods, Kevin Spacey, the late Patrick McGoohan, the late Dennis Hopper, and Patrick Stewart were all considered for the role of Kent Mansley before Christopher McDonald was cast.
- Though he is a government official, Kent Mansley isn't a military commander to the U.S. Army and doesn't use any weapons as a lethal force against the Giant; instead, he relies on the military and General Rogard to do the dirty work for him.