Friday, October 26, 2012

Where Are You Going Mr. Iron Man?

Thematically, where is Iron Man at? The first film was about Tony Stark losing it all then building Iron Man to reclaim his life and then company. The second film was about Tony Stark on the verge of losing it all but reinvents his technology, saving his life and keeping his company. The trailer for the third seems to promise that Tony Stark will lose it all before inventing a new Iron Man suit to regain his place in the world.

TheMandarin… The villain for the third film. He’s a Chinese caricature with ten rings of power he found from a crashed space ship. Oh, the aliens looked like Dragons which doesn’t further reek of gross stereotyping. He’s mad at the world. I’ll give him credit for, after years of presumably getting his rings ripped from his fingers, inserting them into his spin. It looks fucking sick.

How does he fit in at all with any of Iron Man’s thematic territory? Tony Stark describes himself as a futurist. For all his high technology, the man is grounded with a human perspective. His character is an exploration of what uses mankind makes of its technology and how it will choose to evolve with that technology. Thus the view of the Iron Man suit as a weapons platform is a critique of mankind’s weaponization of all its tools and obsession with kill potential. As a hero, the enemies Iron Man fights embody the problems mankind faces as the power it gains from tech grants it incredible and far-reaching abilities. Iron Man will never be the hero who “patrols” some city streets to ferret out muggers. He’s much more “big picture”.

The only area where Tony Stark and Mandarin intersect is that both are very powerful individuals. I get Marvel is making a push to unify all their heroes, create a single coherent world, and apparently hate aliens as ugly, simple, interlopers. But this throwback to the golden age of comics is deeply uninteresting. Given the commanding presence comic movies are getting, why is Marvel wasting this space by showing the world that comics haven’t aged since the 60s? Or is this a reaction to the space carved out by Batman? In place of being grounded, dark, with character focused arcs Mavel is opting for the silly, colorful, “guess who the new badguy is!?” type of nonsense. Remember when Batman Forever, Spider-Man 3, and X-Men 3 ran comic movies into the ground? What bugs me is the first Iron Man film successfully rebooted into fertile conceptual space. It’s like Marvel is pissed at their own success.

And can an Iron Man movie move beyond a rehash of his origin? What does the Man of Tomorrow fight against? How does he change the world? What will the world look like with tech that transforms people into demi-gods? Iron Man is, at least the only one I can think of, the sole hero who could grapple with any questions of where humanity will go and what it will look like. Batman is too obsessed with his own issues to ever give a shit about anything beyond Gotham. Every other hero is a reaction to current problems. They’re the ones who patrol around. Because they don’t have anything better to do. Really, how disgustingly ineffectual is it to wander around a city hoping to happen upon a clear crime?

I’m sad all this beautiful potential is being squandered. Robert Downey Jr. is going to carry the film regardless. He is Tony Stark. I just wish the owners of these wonderful ideas actually knew what they had. 

Image Copywrite Marvel

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