The Great Marvel Movie Catchup Part 2
Iron Man is probably the only film in the Great Marvel Movie Catchup that I have seen more than once (many of them I haven’t seen at all). I like it, it is fun, silly, and has some great characters – everything a comic book movie should be in my opinion. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but the actors manage to take their characters seriously without taking themselves too seriously at the same time if you see what I mean. That’s not to say there aren’t some problems with this film but it is enjoyable enough that you fail to notice them while you are dragged along for the ride.
I find that the film over plays the idea that Tony Stark is a playboy who doesn’t care about anything. It is definitely not a subtle film but then it is a comic book movie. Integral to the story is Tony’s revelation that weapons are bad which, seeing as he is an arms dealer like his father before him, really he has no excuse for not knowing. And the revelation is handled in a pretty cheesy fashion. Tony apparently believes that the weapons he makes could only be used for Truth, Justice and The American Way and could never be used to hurt innocents and when he finds out that they are being used by non-Americans to terrorise people he puts a stop to making weapons and sets out to eradicate injustice from the world, or something.
The most disappointing thing about this revelation is that it has to be a terrorist type organisation that illegally obtains his weapons and uses them for Evil that changes Tony’s mind rather than the probably much more devastating effects of indiscriminate but “legitimate” use of them by the people he does want to sell them to. OK so this is a comic book movie and not a serious discussion of the morality of the War Against Terror but it is disappointing that it is so one sided.
Tony remains reckless despite his revelation and determination to change. And it doesn’t take him long to start making weapons again. But since they are weapons that only he can use and he has appointed himself the sole arbiter of justice then I guess from his point of view they don’t count. These weapons he refuses to allow even the American government to use so maybe he is learning.
There are obviously some plot holes here too. The bad guys have a boat-load of Stark weapons but not the latest missile. So they snatch Tony and get him to make one for them. Instead he makes an armoured suit which allows him to escape from captivity. It should be obvious to the bad guys that Stark isn’t making them a missile. Not a single component of what he constructs bears a resemblance to a missile. Really he should have made them a crap one that looked the part as a distraction from what he was genuinely working on. In fact, if he had made a crap missile, he could have made the suit as a target drone for the missile to shoot at, hidden himself inside the drone and escaped when the missile failed to hit it!
Also, since the bad guys seem to have a direct line to Stark Industries sales department, why not just get some missiles delivered rather than make one out of scavenged parts? Then their master plan wouldn’t involve giving their weapons expert enemy a shit load of weapons to work with! Most of the stuff he makes his first suit from has no relevance to the missile he is supposed to be making out of those components so how did he convince his captors to give them to him?
Once Stark gets back to civilisation (America) and starts to work on the MKII Iron Man suit there are some pretty cool montages of creating and testing the suit parts which are both stylish and funny. Here’s where it is important that the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, by injecting some humour here it keeps the viewer engaged and makes the characters approachable in ways that wouldn’t happen if the scenes were played completely straight. We are also introduced to Stark’s robotic arm helpers who he constantly chastises for being stupid and clumsy which is ironic given that he presumably made and programmed them so any stupidity or clumsiness is really his fault.
Pepper Potts is a good supporting character and plays the straight role to Stark’s funny man very well. It is nice to watch the relationship between the two develop throughout this movie but it is often painful to watch Tony make so many basic mistakes. Pepper manages to avoid needing to be rescued by Tony and even manages to play a pivotal role in the climactic battle which is nice to see.
We also meet JARVIS, Stark’s AI computer system which is everything from administrator to engineer, covert operative and butler. Excellently voiced by Paul Bettany, JARVIS is a character in his own right and is on occasion brilliantly sarcastic.
Although this is the oldest film in the Marvel CU library, its effects stand up pretty well to the others. There is a lot of CGI in this film and while some of it is very noticeable, most blends in perfectly with the physical scenery. When you do notice an effects heavy scene it usually doesn’t matter since everything going on on the screen is so pretty anyway.
You get the impression that Tony Stark has mostly been a style over substance kind of guy. He has flashy cars and nice suits, an expensive mansion and a different beautiful woman every night but beneath the surface there is not much to see. To a certain extent the whole movie is an extension of Stark’s character. It is full of cool stuff like massive explosions and flying robot suits with lasers; It has beautiful scenery and excellent effects and animation but ultimately little substance. Again this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and about what you would expect from a film based on a comic book.
Stark’s fighting style is reminiscent of Captain America and Robocop in that he tends to just stand around letting the enemy shoot him and relying on the invulnerability of his suit to protect him. At least unlike Captain America Iron Man is invulnerable all over and doesn’t have to rely on the enemies repeatedly targeting his invulnerable shield! Speaking of which, if you look carefully you can see that very shield in Tony’s workshop. After all it was provided to Cap by Stark Snr.
It is unclear exactly what the device in Tony’s chest does. It is introduced as a magnet to keep shrapnel out of his heart powered by a car battery that he has to carry around with him. Tony replaces the power source with a ridiculously over powered miniature reactor which fits within the electromagnet device in his chest. The excessive output of the reactor is to allow him to use it to power his escape suit and subsequently the Iron Man suits. Later on though, Tony seems unable to live without the device almost as if it were a pacemaker or artificial heart. It seems perhaps that the magnet only just keeps the shrapnel out of his heart and as soon as it is disabled he immediately begins to die.
While Captain America feels like a stepping stone to The Avengers, iron man feels like its own film.