Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Iron Man

Leon casino,

Pace yourself because there's a lot more coming down the pike than one superhero. In other words if you rush to see Iron Man because you think it'll be great you could be rushing to judgement. In a movie shot in late 1967 and early 1968, Le Gai Savoir, Jean-Luc Godard's "return to zero" film he has a pretty woman reading a poem in front of a wall adorned with large images of the following: Batman, the Hulk, and Spiderman. None of those mutated heroes were well known outside culture mongers and kids reading comics in that era. Flash forward about 40 years. Those iconic images are what sell current movies, in fact they're all present this summer if you replace Peter Parker with Tony Stark. Name a filmmaker working now with a film that has a single frame that identifies the zeitgeist of 2048.
No, films now aren't as heavy (there are always exceptions). Just as the Iron Man that had his genesis in the 60s was far more complex (drug addiction) than the "family friendly" version played by Robert Downey, Jr. in the film opening Friday. For today's Iron Man the deepest it gets is a kind of spiritual epiphany that allows him to justify killing people with his weapons. Industrialist Stark (Downey) could be a bastard combination of Shaw's Andrew Undershaft and pop spy Matt Helm the way he profits from arms and dispatches evil doers. Maybe in the sequel (Downey has signed for three) Stark donates his profits to Greenpeace.
Here is my main problem with Iron Man other than it's lack of cinematic hoopla (Where is Sam Raimi when you need him?) Other superbeings are legend (Thor) or atomic mutations (Spiderman, Hulk, Fantastic Four). The reality of their powers is more sci-fi than attached to the physics of our present world. But Iron Man lives in the world of real science and his powers are all inventions in a lab, or cave as the case may be. So when Iron Man files from Malibu to Afghanistan the reality is it took him a day to fly at jet speeds, yet the film makes it look as exhausting as driving down the street to the store. Iron Man makes a small ring out of the element palladium that he uses to power his suit. Fine, only the entire movie seems constructed out of voodoo science.
I didn't have a bad time at Iron Man, but the seen it done that attitude I left the theater with bemoans ever wanting to see this on DVD or care about sequels. Stan Lee turns up in a cameo where he's transformed into Hugh Hefner.


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