Sunday, May 04, 2008

Iron Man - the movie

I've made a couple of posts about the history of Iron Man in comics. Now the movie is finally out. It's very good. It also manages to hit most of the high point of Iron Man's history.

The origin is almost exactly as it was in the comics. The location was moved to Afghanistan instead if Viet Nam and the enemy is a Taliban clone instead of Communists but it works even better this way. In the comic, his first suit was cast iron. In the movie is it wrought iron and it looks like something that someone made in a cave. There is a twist on it that but that doesn't come out for most of the movie.

Other elements - Tony's relationship with Pepper Potts. It's complicated. His driver, Happy Hogan, who never actually gets to drive him is there, too.

In the comic his pilot and best friend is Jim Rhodes who eventually takes over the armor for a while before getting his own suit. In the movie Rhodes looks at a prototype and says, "Maybe next time."

The armor developed over decades in the comic starting with the primitive cast iron suit. The next version iced up if he flew too high. This was represented in the movie with three generations of armor.

In the comic, Stane was a rival businessman who took over Stark International in a leveraged buy-out. In the comic he is a mentor and second largest stock-holder and, yes, he tries a corporate takeover.

BTW, Stane uses the term "iron monger" to describe their business. This is a term for munitions manufacturers.

For years Iron Man kept running out of power during fights. Since his life-support used the same power system, this could potentially kill him. They managed to include this in the movie, also.

Early on Stark discovers that the Taliban-clone has weapons from his company and launches an attack to destroy these munitions. This is an echo of the Armor Wars, a plotline where Stark discovers that Stane sold controller chips that he meant to keep secret. Stark went on a mission to shut down all suits of armor using this technology regardless of who had it (some of the technology was being used by the US government).

What about the politics? I saw one complaint that the movie lapses into Ralph Nader corporate responsibility. Yes, there is some talk of this but it is mainly in terms of keeping the technology out of the hands of terrorists. After being shot with one of his own missiles, Stark's message seems to be that if he can't keep it out of the hands of the US's enemies then he wasn't going to make it. But it never really went much beyond talk. Stark never came up with a new corporate plan.

I think that conservatives would agree that selling weapons to the Taliban is bad so this doesn't bother me.

And this is the first movie to feature an action hero taking on a Taliban-style enemy. That has to count for a lot.

Marvel has been saying that casting Robert Downey jr. was a triumph. I can't argue with that. He is to Iron Man what Johnny Depp is to PoTC. Word is that Downey is a huge Iron Man fan and loved playing the character and would be quite happy to keep making Iron Man movies through Iron Man 15.

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