How can you tell it's not football season? We are talking about comic books. I have a feeling that the demographic for this is me and me alone but I'm doing this anyway because Ain't It Cool News won't post my reviews ever since I admitted that I liked the second Matrix movie better than the first.
Superhero movies hold a dear, dear place in my heart. As a kid I was really into Spiderman, but the complete mythos of the Marvel universe is something that always fascinated me. I ignore, mostly, the stupid fringe characters, and focus on the overall storylines of the major ones.
Individual comics never really interested me. It was the overall arc of the stories, the legends of the colorful and heroic characters that really turned my gears. Some of the stories, like the Fantastic Four vs. the Silver Surfer/Galactus, rank among the greatest fiction of the last 50 years. The fact that Tim Story perverted what should've been cinema gold still chaps my ass, even though I never saw it. That's just the kind of person I am.
Aside from the utterly epic Secret Wars series, I haven't read a comic in probably 15 years. Even so, I am still wildly protective on proper canon. When Spiderman revealed his secret identity to Mary Jane in the abortion that was Spiderman 2, I nearly stormed out in a big nerdy huff. That movie was bad enough, it didn't need to do that to ruin it.
I've always found great thrill, for whatever reason, in watching a properly executed storyline. I want to watch the comics I read as a kid played out exactly as they were in front of me. Yes, I know how it'll end, but any change angers the dork in me and I can't really enjoy the movie otherwise.
I go, though, to watch them jump and punch and use their powers in live action regardless of how the story plays out. When Nightcrawler was introduced in X-Men 2 I nearly wet myself in the theater. You cannot describe the visceral thrill of seeing a filmmaker get it exactly right. That hot "BAMF!" action made my week.
Even X-Men 3, which was awful, was still so much fun that I saw it twice. Yes, I paid to see a Brett Ratner movie. Twice.
This is the love/hate relationship I have with these movies. This is the love/hate relationship I have with Iron Man.
Initially, I really liked this movie. The first hour or so was the origin story which was followed faithfully. There were two changes that were made - the Vietnam War setting was changed to Afghanistan, which is fine and makes complete sense.
The other change made was the introduction of James "Rhody" Rhodes, played by Cuba Gooding Jr, Jr. Instead of following canon and making him an injured helicopter pilot, his relationship with Tony Stark was already established. I don't know why they did this, but whatever. It bugs me but I'm still in at this point.
Act 2 is the gradual softening of an iron heart, leading to the creation of an Iron Man. This is handled beautifully. The creation of the suit itself is the high point of the movie, hitting it's absolute zenith the first time you see Iron Man streak across the sky. If that doesn't leave goosebumps on your arm then this review is not for you.
His first combat is handled very well, too, although there was an unfortunate instance of jazz hands choreography that so burdened the Spiderman franchise. It's still a satisfying beat down that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The biggest problem with the movie is the ending. Not only does it veer from the comic book story, it is completely unfulfilling. It's like sleeping with me: a lot of excitement and build up followed by extreme disappointment 2 minutes later. I wanted to go in and see a little bit of Transformers in this movie. Basically, I wanted to see some robots punching each other in the face. Transformers delivered and then some (Optimus Prime putting his sword through Bonecrushers idiot face? Fucking A', man), but Iron Man does not.
Essentially this movie is the Hulk with a worse director and better VFX. It would be much more accurate to call the movie Tony Stark, since it's basically a character study of the man behind the suit, not a glorification of the most popular Avenger, which is probably what it should have been. It's a good movie, but my summer movie expectations are to see things whizzing around and punching other things in the face. I did not get that to a satisfactory degree and I'm disgruntled about it.
Super nerd section:
Quickly, we need to talk about the science. Oh, the science. Movies can bend the laws of psychics and thermodynamics, we all know and accept this. The bigger the spectacle and the hotter the temperature, the more bending we accept. But you can only push it so far.
The "heart" of the movie is the fictional ARC reactor, a source of limitless power that is the showpiece of Stark Industries. It functions, but since it's not cost effective it's deemed not practical enough for further research or use. Tony Stark, in captivity, creates a small version to stick in his chest to keep shrapnel from flowing into his heart and killing him.
This is fine. This is summer movie science and I love it all.
There is some pretty stupid stuff, however. An auto-translator that can instantly turn Arabic into perfect Queen's English? No, Hollywood, that is not acceptable. Iron Man going from Mach 1 to almost a complete stop and not splattering his brains on the inside of his mask? Ugh. A giant explosion that engulfs a maskless Iron Man but doesn't singe a single hair off of Tony Starks cynical head? Come on, that's Spielberg shit.
The biggest gaffe of all was an absolute slobberknocker of a reach: Pepper Pott's magic cell phone that somehow worked in an underground parking garage. Yeah fucking right, Favreau. It's one thing to have a mechanical super man flying around earth solving humanitarian crises, it is another entirely to pretend any technology you can dream up will enable you to call out from the inside of a buried concrete and iron box. Again, the fact that this bugs me makes me a dork. I know this.
The other supernerd complaint I have is their choice of villian. The Iron Monger is cool and all, but there are two main antagonists that were better choices, and would've been awesome to see. The problem with both Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man is that both characters are played by an ensemble cast of soviet-era villians, instead of an ensemble cast of American villians. They could've easily retconned this to Middle Eastern or Korean or something, though, just like they did the origin story. I felt a little gypped with the choice of bad guy, just like the lack of Venom in the first two Spiderman movies. I refuse to see the third, although I understand he's in it briefly.
Robert Downey Jr. is magnificent as Tony Stark. He's a huge fan of the series, and his default character is perfect for Stark. No one else could have played this part. Jeff Bridges and the underused Terrance Howard were perfectly acceptable, and I look forward to Howard donning the suit in part 2, and his alleged performance as War Machine. Gweneth Paltrow is fine, and a really good choice to play Potts. Not hot.
My own performance:
It's only fair right? Who am I to judge a movie while not offering up myself to be judged as well?
First off, my only clean shirt was the black, totally kick ass Venom shirt, with the huge white spider symbol on it. This is a bitchin' shirt that I wear proudly. Problem was that nobody wanted to go see it with me, so yeah, I was that guy. Alone, middle of the afternoon, wearing a comic book shirt to a comic book movie. To kill time I had a Nintendo DS handy.
Luckily, I was surrounded by that guys, so I didn't stand out too badly. Unluckily, I also wore my lady pants. In short, they are too tight, they are too low, and anytime I'm not standing perfectly erect my ass crack spills out like the high school slut that I am. But I keep them because I look fucking fantastic in them. They are my lady pants. Lady pants are not for mid-afternoon nerd movies, though, and they are too tight to sneak any candy in so I had to pay $3.50 for Skittles. Awful.
I had to pee in the middle, which is so rare that I was embarrassed for myself when I went. I am not a 50 year old man or 5 year old child and shouldn't have this issue. Not until years of medical neglect leaves my prostate swollen and useless. After admiring my jeans in the mirror I left to get back to the movie, meaning I had a date with those massive noise insulated doors. I initially went to grab the handle with my left hand before realizing that I was in an awkward position to do so, it would be much easier to use my dominant hand here. Since I was already extended, though, I ended up momentarily lurching forward with both arms raised looking like a (sexy) Frankenstein monster who was about to hug someone in front of him that only he could see. I was joined in the little foyer by a theater employee wearing a World of Warcraft undershirt who looked exactly like someone with a World of Warcraft shirt should look. I made him the coolest person in the room.
To the movie I give a solid but still disappointing B, to myself a resounding F-.