Kent Mansley is a federal government agent and the main antagonist of The Iron Giant.
Kent Mansley is a slender man, with fair skin, auburn hair and 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 collard shirt. While at the Hughes home and interrogating Hogarth about the location of the Giant, Mansley also wears a pair of yellow suit pants with a green blazer and red tie instead of his grey suit and crimson tie.
Although suave and well mannered on the outside, Kent Mansley is a paranoid and ruthless 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 expand his career by becoming 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. Like many villains, Mansley is relentless in his quest to seek his ultimate goals however, 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. His paranoia is also his greatest weakness however, 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 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 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.
Role in the film
Soon after the Iron Giant destroys the Rockwell electrical substation and its surrounding overhead power lines, while trying to consume the steel structures supporting the station, Federal Government Agent Kent Mansley is first seen in Rockwell the following morning. Earlier revealed to Dean, Earl Stutz called the government about the “invader from Mars” he experienced in his boat weeks earlier, as well as multiple strange occurrences around the town, prompting the government's action.
Immediately arriving in his official government vehicle on the site of the station to investigate, Kent exits his vehicle puffing on his pipe and surveys his surroundings with a steely-eyed, square-jawed gaze, while introducing himself as member of the "United States Government Burea of Unexplained Phenomena" to the head electrical foreman, Marv Loach. Relatively uninterested in Marve, Mansley swiftly leads the foreman through the forest wall, to the wrecked station, while Marv admits he is unsure of the causes inexplicable damage incurred at the station. Cables, fencing, and jagged fragments of metal litter the ground around the pulverized walls of the station, as workers and trucks swarm through the site, carefully retrieving the scattered pieces of rubble. The foreman personally believes the devastation could not have been the result of a storm, and the way the towers are twisted, its as if they were bitten off the structures by some kind of “enormous beast”. Mansley spurns the thought of such a possibility, however, as he records the foreman's words. He sarcastically suggesting the destruction is the result of an aggressive escaped gorilla, rather than some massive creature as Marv suggests. Marv questions Mansley's department as a result, but Mansley reveals very little of his position; only that he is the government's response to unordinary occurrence such as the one at hand. No sooner does he finish his explanation of his department, Mansley inquires as to whether any eyewitnesses were present at the time of the event, but unfortunately there are no know known witness. Marv is able to afford Mansley a crushed bb-gun handle recovered from the incident, however, with the markings “Hog- Hug-” from a dumpster on the site. Marv confidently proclaims that with the U.S. Government overseeing the case, there must be something lurking in Rockwell, but Mansley scoff at the idea again, before heading back toward his vehicle. Continuing to mock the foreman's belief as he approaches his vehicle, Mansley, seats himself in his car once more and places the bb-gun on the passenger only to discover, to his horror, that the passenger seat and roughly half his automobile has seemingly been ripped clean off. Terrified and panicked by the situation, the agent doubles back to the station, and quickly brings Marv to the site of his car. Unknown to Mansley, however, the rest of his automobile was taken by the hungry giant, the moment he left the vehicle to share his encounter with Marv, and the two are perplexed to find that his car has disappeared, leaving only a few parts and the bb-gun behind. Retrieving the small piece of evidence from the ground, Mansley takes the situation much more seriously, believing that there is a creature in the woods, and leaves the station.
Sometime after his visit to the power station, Mansley arrives at Rockwell City Hall. While there, Mansley proceeds to discuss the information from the night before with the mayor and his associates. According to Mansley a foreign object had been detected entering Earth's atmosphere off the coast of Rockwell, originally assumed to be a downed satellite or meteor. As a result of Earl Stutz' testimony and his own personal experience, Mansley believes that the crashed object is something very different than previously thought by the US Government. Mansley continuous to discuss details until the Mayor's office receives a phone call of a strange train crash nearby. Hearing the news, Mansley helps himself to the mayor's car, as his own has disappeared, and leaves immediately for the incident.
Not long after the Iron Giant is struck by a train, while attempting to repair the railroad tracks the very same night, Mansley visits the site of the train wreck to recover more evidence. Although there is once again little to no evidence of a machine or monster, one of The Engineers (suffering from a concussion) confesses that he saw what appeared to be a “giant metal man” on the tracks before the train’s impact. Mansley, concluding that the incident is linked to the power station, asks for the nearest telephone and is directed toward the Hughes Home.
Soon after the train wreck, while Hogarth is attempting to smuggle the Iron Giant’s hand out of his house without his mother finding out, Mansley arrives at the Hughes home to use their telephone. Initially, Hogarth slams the front door on him, believing he’d see the giant’s hand behind him, however, after realizing the hand is gone, he opens the door to Mansley begrudgingly. His mother, Annie Hughes, kindly lets him borrow their phone, with which he calls General Rogard. After a short argument to the disbelieving general, Mansley is forced to hunt for more evidence to prove to the general that the “giant metal monster” does exist. Mansley leaves the residence shortly after however, he turns around after realizing the bb-gun is Hogarth’s. After return, Hogarth starts acting strangely (continuing to hide the giant’s hand) which draws suspicion from Mansley. Finally leaving, Mansley assures Hogarth that they will see each other “real soon”.
The next morning, it is revealed that Mansley has rented out the room at Hogarth’s house, much to Hogarth’s displeasure. With Mansley always present, Mansley keeps constant watch over Hogarth as Kent asks a few questions until Hogarth tries to leave the house. Unfortunately for Hogarth, Annie suggests he take Mansley with him to see the city sites. While visiting Eddy’s Rexall, after Hogarth shows Kent how to make a landslide (a chocolate bar called coca-lax crumbled and mixed with an ice cream sundae), Mansley begins to speak of the Sputnik and his fears of the thing lurking in the woods and asks Hogarth if he feels safe. When Hogarth acts oblivious to Mansley’s obvious hint at the giant, Mansley explodes into a rage and corners Hogarth. However before he is able to interrogate Hogarth any further, he is forced to the bathroom by the coca-lax that Hogarth spiked his ice cream soda with, which gives Hogarth the opportunity to flee.
With Hogarth gone from his sights and coca-lax in his system, Mansley heads out into the forest surrounding Rockwell again to find more evidence of the giant's existence. Heading through the woods, Mansley talks with a farmer named Benny who shows him the half eaten end of his truck, a damaged silo next to his barn, and damaged trees on the west side of his property. Mansley takes notes on the destruction before his irritated bowels force him to use the farmers outhouse.
Traveling deeper into the woods, Mansley comes across the boulders and the uprooted tree that Giant had pulled from the ground, when Hogarth was trying to teach him words. Mansley also finds then bent shut off switch from the powerstation that the giant had presented to Hogarth in gratitude, before his bowels force him to use a pair of bushes. After a long and exhausting evening, Mansley strikes a camera hanging from a tree branch, the very camera Hogarth took in to the woods while searching for The Iron Giant.
Later that evening, Mansley uses the bathroom at the Hughes' residence as a dark room to hang the drying photos from Hogarth's camera. Turning over the pictures one by one, he comes across the picture Hogarth had taken of the metal panel he set on the tree stump in the woods to lure the giant. Flipping the next one, he uncovers the photograph Hogarth had taken of himself while waiting for the giant to appear. To his delight and shock, standing behind a smiling Hogarth is The Iron Giant. That night, while Hogarth is putting his bike in the shed near his home, Mansley traps Hogarth and prevents him from leaving its interior, informing him that his "mom is working late tonight". Quickly forcing him into a chair and turning on a large light, Mansley is finally able to interrogate Hogarth about the location of the Giant without any distractions. Hogarth originally acts oblivious to his question and still refuses to answer them, but is dumbfounded when Mansley reveals the photos from his camera. Now cornered, Mansley threatens to call in the US army to destroy the giant, but when Hogarth mocks him by asking what is stopping him, he lashes out and furiously inquires the Giant whereabouts.
Becoming more devious, Mansley tells Hogarth that he can't protect the Giant and anymore than his mother. Threatening to remove him from his mother's care, Hogarth eventually breaks down and confesses to Mansley that the Giant is at McCoppin Scrapyard. Pleased by receiving the information he's been searching for, Mansley tells Hogarth he won't have to worry about the incident they've just had because its only been a bad dream. He then uses a Choloform rag to knock Hogarth unconscious, and he puts him to bed.
Hogarth awakes later to the sound of Mansley speaking to General Rogard over the phone about the evidence he has uncovered. Trying to escape to warn Dean and the Giant, Hogarth runs into Mansley in the hallway, who is now done with the call. Rather coldly, he brags to Hogarth that the army will be arriving in the morning and forces Hogarth back into his room, where he discovers Mansley has nailed his window shut. Unable to leave the house to caution Dean, Kent plans to watch Hogarth until morning, and the two watch each other until around three in the morning. The next morning, however, Kent awakes in horror to see Hogarth out of his bed, and a dummy inside of his bed as it is revealed that Hogarth snuck out and warned Dean and the Giant. He quickly composes himself, though, as a rather irked Annie questions why the army is in their front yard. Kent suavely tells Annie to call him Kent, before he, Hogarth, Annie, and the army head off to McCoppin Scrap.
After the army arrives at McCoppin Scrapyard, Kent demands Dean to show him where the Giant is. Dean is undeterred which slightly concerns Mansley, and he becomes impatient when Dean stalls with a story in front of the door leading into the shed holding the Giant. Finally entering the shed with zeal and confidence, Mansley's face and composure quickly fall at the sight of the Giant, as it appears to be nothing more than a metal statue conceived by Dean. Infuriated, General Rogard harshly chastises Mansley outside the shed for wasting both his own time and the government's money for a worthless trip to Rockwell. Mansley is dismissed from his government position, and he leaves, defeated, with the rest of the troops before Annie leaves and Dean tells the Giant that the coast is clear.
While leaving Rockwell distraughtly with the military convoy, Mansley sees Dean and Hogarth travelling on Dean's motorcycle in the opposite direction. Suspicious of the pair, Mansley looks back toward Rockwell. To his surprise, he sees the Giant standing in the city and double takes, resulting him crashing his vehicle. Seizing his change, Mansley claims to the convoy and lies to them that the Giant is attacking the city. Now awestruck and fearful, General Rogard listens to Mansley, prompting the convoy to head back to Rockwell.
Striking the Giant squarely in the back with a rocket, the US military roles back into Rockwell to destroy the unsuspecting Giant, under Mansley and Rogard's orders. Forcing the giant to flee, Dean tries to explain to Mansley that the Giant only acts defensively and Hogarth is in his hands. Kent tells Dean he will take care of it, but instead lies to the General that the Giant has killed Hogarth, resulting in the President of the United States and the U.S. Air force getting involved.
Soon afterword, the Iron Giant is blown out of the sky, and an excited Kent and General Rogard head off to check if the Giant is alive. While the Giant is down mourning the presumed death of Hogarth, Mansley takes the opportunity to strike the Giant, and orders the military to open fire. Enraged by the continued assault, the Giant reverts into its heavily armed mode and attacks the military relentlessly. Unable to defeat the Giant using guns, tanks, or battleships, Kent suggest to the General that they can destroy the Giant by using a nuclear missile on the USS Nautilus. General Rogard asks why are they going to bomb themselves to destroy the Giant, however Kent thinks the Giant can be lured out of the town, then destroyed.
As the military is ordered to fall back and the missile is prepped to be launched, Hogarth (after regaining consciousness) brings the Giant back to his senses and realizes that they must show the military the Giant is not aggressive or destructive. Meanwhile, Annie tells them not to fire the missile, as her son is still alive, and Dean explains to General Rogard that the Giant is friendly and is only retaliating as a result of the military’s actions. Ever defiant, Mansley’s still asserts that the Giant must be destroyed and tells Rogard that Dean’s claim is a trick to avoid the missile’s launching. Seeing that Hogarth is still alive however, the Giant's innocence is proven and Rogard tells his men to stand down and the launch is aborted for good in order to not make the same mistake again. Kent, however, still assuming the Giant is a threat to the town, refuses to stand down and instead snatches the radio from Rogard and orders the USS Nautilus to launch the missile.
Shocked and infuriated, Rogard informs him that the missile is targeted to the Giant's current position, which will result not only in the Giant's death, but in the destruction of Rockwell and its entire populous, when the missile re-enters the orbit. Wishing to survive, Kent tells the General that they can duck and cover, but the General furiously tells him there is no way to survive the blast and tells him that they are all going to die for their country. Refusing to take responsibility for his actions or take note of the town's fate, Mansley tries to escape Rockwell in a military jeep in order to save himself, but the Giant stops him by blocking his path with one of its hands, enabling General Rogard and his soldiers to arrest Kent for his actions. Kent is never seen again after this, but he is presumably removed from his position permanently and imprisoned for his crimes and treachery after the Giant saves the city.
- No, Marv. Big things happen in big places. And the sooner I file my report, the sooner I can get back to them. [to himself, sarcastically] Enormous beast, yeah. [chuckles] The biggest thing in this town is probably the homecoming queen- [as he finishes saying "homecoming queen" he realizes his car is half eaten] OH, MY GOD! [he suddenly jumps out, freaked out]
- [first meeting Hogarth] Hey there, scout! Kent Mansley, I work for the government.
- HoGARTH? What an embarrassing name. Might as well call him Zeppo, or something like that. What kind of sick person would name a kid Hogar... [he does a double take at his thought and turns to the smashed BB-Gun with the inscribed words "HOG HUG"] Hog Hug. HOG HUG?! HOGARTH HUGHES!
- Kent Mansley may have an resemblance to Syndrome, another Brad Bird villain from the 2004 Disney/Pixar film The Incredibles (which will be released 5 years after The Iron Giant)
- Both have the same hair color and eyes.
- Both have devious plans where a robot is involved.
- Syndrome wants to send the Omidroid to terrorize Metro City, whereas Kent plans to destroy the Iron Giant at all costs.
- Both expose their plans in front of the main protagonists (Hogarth and Mr. Incredible).
- In the original script, Mansley was troubled by the pealing "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.
- In an alternate ending, Kent was told by the General Rogard that he was "under arrest... 'and all that that implies'" as a crack at his signature phrase.