Because I finished my first draft of Dead if I Do last week, I treated myself to a movie… out. The last movie I saw in a theatre was the second installment of Lord of the Rings, and the there were a couple things about the movie going experience that have changed in the intervening years. First of all, the seats are WAY better. My friend Sean M. Murphy and I went to the new Rosedale theatre and I have to say, stadium seating is very nice. The prices for concessions, however, blew my mind. Four dollars for a bottle of water? Sean and I concluded it had to be angel p*ss to be worth that much. Also, there were a lot more commercials, although, secretly, that doesn’t bother me as much.
As for the movie itself, it didn’t take long for me to be happy with Iron Man. The moment we discover his computerized “butler” at Tony Stark’s Malibu mansion is named Jarvis (after, no doubt, the long-time real, live butler at the Avengers’ Mansion) I was pretty much sold. By the time the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. showed I was damn near giddy. The surprise scene at the end of the credits made me – and Sean can attest to this – actually scream out loud.
It’s clear that Marvel is the best creative team to have at the head of their movie franchise, because unlike the okay-but-vaguely-disappointing Fantastic Four films, it’s clear that the Marvel writers get that superhero stories aren’t just about the eye-candy special effects (though there were plenty to enjoy in Iron Man). Not to over do an Iron Man metaphor, but Marvel clearly gets the importance of giving their heroes heart, soul, and, frankly, personality.
Robert Downey, Jr. made a phenomenal Tony Stark. He managed to walk the line of smarmy, but likable. The humor (and brief moments of self-deprecation and vulnerability) did a lot to win me over. As I said on one of my other blogs, I was never a big fan of Iron Man before this movie. I read him in old Avengers, but never in his own title. I knew some of his origin story, but not very well. I tended to find him a rather vacuous placeholder/spear carrier in the Avengers, and, at worst, I pegged him as a military industrialist Capitalist running dog. (Funny aside: There’s a scene in one of the issues of Runaways where the young heroes are trying to find a villain to pound and they come across someone vandalizing a Stark Industries sign. They have a long discussion about Stark’s dubious role in any number of military actions and in the end make the case that vandalizing Stark Industries isn’t really much of a crime given how odious Stark’s business dealing are – funny. True.)
While reading the Civil War story line, I came to appreciate Iron Man in his pseudo-villainous role as the contractor (with Haliburton) for the Negative Zone prisons, etc. I couldn’t say I liked him, but I thought his arguments for the Superhero Registration Act had a certain kind of logic that made the Civil War have that much more resonance with today’s political climate.
With Downey, Jr. in the role, however, I started to get what all the fuss was about. If things proceed to an Iron Man 2 and Avengers movie, I could actually see myself caring about him. I might also understand how he comes to co-lead the Avengers with Captain America (which was something, as a on-again-off-again reader of the Avengers titles I could never truly grok.)
What I like, too, about Iron Man the movie is that it restored my faith in comic book to movie adaptations. I thought the writers were very good at giving readers unfamiliar to Iron Man a reason to love him, while also giving us long time fans a movie that was a ‘fans’ fan, lady’s fan, fan about town.’
It made me an Iron Fan.