Saturday, May 03, 2008

Cat Couldn't Scratch 'im

(illustration by Tom Gauld)

We just got out of Iron Man, the latest Marvel-adapted Stan Lee superhero origin flick. My excitement level for this film has been exactly zero; as has been with so many superheros, I've never really been a fan of the metal man. Seeing the trailer last week piqued my interest, but the film itself has definitely won me over. Tony Stark (and Robert Downey Jr, for that matter) is a better Man of Steel than Superman has been for decades.

It's pretty dadgum good, if I say so myself, and I do. I don't know about you, but I like watching a superhero flick where the protagonist doesn't whine, and one where he worries about something other than his girlfriend. Naturally, some aspects of the film are unrealistic, but the movie's such a completely solid experience that you should just chalk it up to action movie license and enjoy yourself. The hero's internal dilemma is a great deal more topical and interesting than the tantrums and sputterings of heroes who have worn out their welcome.

Two hundred and forty some-odd posts ago, I let off steam in a rant about some of X-Men 3's and Spider-Man 3's particularly problematic points. I think that the success of Iron Man comes down to it being free of the problems I had with those movies:

Why? Why can't the third films be as subtle, charming and delicious as the others? Why must everything be caffeinated and fed through the filter of the Summer Blockbuster, even where the previous movies have avoided this tendency? Spider-man 3 alone jacked the evil twin concept, undermined the original film by changing story for the sake of concocting character motivation and introduced characters from the rafters to reveal important plot points to the audience when the movie couldn't figure out how to do it on its own. Every character and villain had so many bloody motivations that the movie became a swirling roller-coaster and lost track of its human elements. Three - count 'em, THREE - villains, and not one of them ever seemed to be acting like a human being.

Iron Man, on the other hand, feels natural and mature. It's also nicely directed, from the guy that did Zathura - another blah-sounding but pleasing picture. Iron Man is also the funniest superhero movie since Hellboy. Go see it.

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