Friday, May 02, 2008

Iron Man

I went to see Iron Man last night. This is the first time I've gone to see a big movie since...I'm not sure. I don't get out to movies as much these days, unfortunately. But that's the result of having to buy tickets after getting them free for six years.

The trailers were a mixed bag. A movie like Iron Man (probably the most anticipated blockbuster outside of Dark Knight and Crystal Skull) is supposed to have great trailers. You can usually count on seeing something new before any major release. That was almost the case here.

The first trailer was a brand new one for The Love Guru, which has the distinction of being the lamest-looking movie of the year. I groaned and gritted my teeth and waited for the wretched thing to end. Fortunately, any trailer following this one would have to be amazing, if only by comparison, right?

Unfortunately that next trailer was You Don't Mess With The Zohan. Terrible.

Then things picked up with Speed Racer. I'll see it on the Imax, and likely enjoy it. But I doubt it's going to blow me away.

Then there was the new Incredible Hulk trailer. This movie looks like it will be fun. It will also be kind of stupid. But then the Hulk is kind of a stupid character. I've never been a huge fan. I don't read the comics much, because they all pretty much amount to the same thing. When is the Hulk going to go off again, and how much damage will he create this time? It's hard to create a lot of character depth when your character's main feature is that he is really angry. Like, all the time.

That was followed by the new Dark Knight trailer which somehow makes me want to see the movie even more than I did before. I didn't know that was possible. Regardless of how much Heath Ledger's death casts a shadow over this movie, his performance is going to be simultaneously hilarious and creepy as all hell. Also, it's official: Two Face is in the movie, but I don't think that was really a secret at this point. There are two very brief shots in the trailer to look for. One is Harvey Dent just before he becomes Two Face, and the other is Two Face driving a car and holding a large revolver. But you only see him in profile from his good side, so you have to look carefully for the scars.
This is definitely my most anticipated movie of the summer.

The final preview, and second most anticipated movie, was Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It's basically just a longer version of the tv spot that's been online for awhile. It looks cool, I guess. I'm just being very reserved about this one. It's been a long, long time since George Lucas had his name attached to anything worthwhile. And I love the Indiana Jones movies, even the often-mocked Temple of Doom. I just don't want to be let down, so I'm not getting my hopes up. Some of the scenes look very computery, which may prevent the film from fitting in with the rest of the series. We'll See.

So it was cool to see new trailers for some really cool movies, but I was hoping to see something brand new. Oh well. The summer is just getting started.

On to the main feature!

I don't have too much to say about Iron Man. I've been behind the movie since it was first revealed who was attached to star and direct. And all of the hype leading up to the release sounded very promising. This is probably the least controversial comic book movie ever developed, as far as fan reactions. I'm kind of late coming to the Marvel universe as a reader, but it seemed like even the hardcore Iron Man fans were behind this one from the start.

Fortunately all of that support is payed back in full. Iron Man is one of the best comic book movie adaptations to come out. It is on par with Batman Begins, Spiderman I & II, and X2. In some ways it is better than all of those. It is perfectly cast, right down to the smallest role. All of the characters are set up very well, and you really want all of the characters to be expanded in the sequels. In other words there is no dead weight. Most comic book movies, no matter how good, contain some bloat. This is usually a result of just trying to cram as much of the comics' lengthy history into the story as possible. Iron Man isn't as popular of a title as something like X-Men, or Spiderman, so it's easier to trim the fat without losing much of the comic's essence.

The only real problem with the film, if you can even call it a problem, is that origin stories are never the best stories comic books have to offer. They are necessary, and sometimes very cool (and Iron Man's definitely is), but they lack the weight that the characters potentially have to offer. Scenes of novice super hero misfires can be very entertaining if handled right. That's something Spiderman did very well, and Iron Man has some equally funny moments. But ultimately we want to see these characters be super heroic. Iron Man has some great action moments in this movie, but it's really just a taste of what you know he's capable of. It keeps you wanting more, in the best way.

Robert Downey Jr. is awesome as Tony Stark. He is the funniest character in a comic book movie to date, and also has some very real issues. Iron Man is a great character, not because of the cool suit, but because of the person inside it. And you really care about him in this. It's also fun to see a billionaire super hero who actually really enjoys being a billionaire super hero. Batman is awesome, but why does Bruce Wayne have to be such a downer? Tony Stark has his problems, but he doesn't sit around moping all the time.

I really hope they start making the sequel as soon as possible. This film is a great setup for things to come.


Joe said...

Glad to hear this. We'll probably see it sometime this weekend.

I've been reading the Marvel "Civil War" saga lately to find out more about the Iron Man/Tony Stark character. I'd recommend it if you have time (I never get to read comic books, so I always just wait for a big multi-title event and download the whole kit and kaboodle. It takes me the first few issues to find out who everybody is and their backstories, but then I can lose myself in the storytelling.) That one in particular doesn't disappoint.

As soon as we get our couch to the new place, you're welcome to crash. Just give us a head's up first--a good hour or so in advance ought to do it.

Scott said...

I have read much of the Civil War. I never read much of Marvel before, but I liked what they did with this story, for the most part. Some of the books you can skip without missing much of anything. Captain America's, for example, is surprisingly disappointing considering how much his character plays into the overall story. Inextricably, Captain America is hardly in that one, and most of the book is given over to side plots with Winter Soldier (Cap's ex-sidekick, Bucky).

Here are the ones I own, and highly recommend, if you haven't read them yet:

The Road To Civil War - a good introduction to some of the main characters, and a little background into the politics of these characters.

Civil War - obviously the meat and potatoes.

Front Line - arguably the best story out of the bunch, following Speeball's tragic arch.

Wolverine - a really cool Wolverine story that ties up the loose ends around Nitro.

Young Avengers & Runaways - you can probably skip this one but I love the Runaways. In fact, if you're looking for more Marvel comics to read, Runaways is one of my favorites in recent memory.

Iron Man - really, really good.

The only problem with the books is that the timeline can be confusing, as many of the books are parallel stories. Apparently after the comics' initial run, they released the saga in linear form, but I have no idea if they'll come out in paperback form that way.