...even after five agonizing years of the Iraq War, a summer blockbuster isn't prepared to say that not only is its action hero is corrupt, he's corrupt because America has become corrupt.
May 16, 2008 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Iron Man, who represents an imperial America, can only win Pyrrhic victories. Spencer Ackerman of Tapped Online has a nice history of the Iron Man comics that reads the character's alcoholism, Civil-War overzealousness, and persistent blundering "into a hell of unintended consequences" as a symbol and subtle critique of American exceptionalism and what Jonathan Schell among others has called "impotent omnipotence".
posted by gerryblog (123 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
IRON MAN SMASH!
posted by kbanas at 1:10 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Poor old Iron Man. He’s got a great movie, in which superheroes and supervillains HIT EACH OTHER, and very little time is spent on angst (I’m looking at you Superman) or organizing weddings (Fantastic Four), but it’s quite clearly based on his alternate universe Ultimates self*, and his Marvel Universe self got turned into a total dick during Civil War. It’s enough to turn him back to drink…

*Not the Orson Scott Card series though, which was about some kid, went on forever without doing much or having much to do with Iron Man, and which I dropped pretty quickly.
posted by Artw at 1:17 PM on May 16, 2008


My plate of beans, have you overthought it?

Iron Man is a comic book. From Marvel. And while Marvel comic books do make some effort to be relevant, the idea that one mag going back decades would represent any kind of sustained metaphor, much less one as controversial as this, is just plain silly and suggests a lack of understanding of how comics work. I'm no authority on the subject, but sheesh. Ackerman is finding a message where none exists.
posted by adamrice at 1:23 PM on May 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't know about all that stuff in those links, but I was pretty damn surprised when one of my least favorite comic book characters was featured in (warning: controversial statement ahead) the single best movie ever made about a comic book character.
posted by ND¢ at 1:25 PM on May 16, 2008 [11 favorites]


Reading all this and not being familiar with the enterprise I think I need to order a copy of Iron Man For Dummies.
posted by crapmatic at 1:25 PM on May 16, 2008


Oh, and I love the Chinese-language comment spam on that Ackerman's post.
posted by adamrice at 1:25 PM on May 16, 2008


am the only one who noticed the movie was crap?

As usual for a studio film, they were afraid to come down on either side, so the US military is wonderful and the villain is private industry. But not Boeing, who the film is basically a commercial for, but just one bad guy at pseudo-Boeing.

Which would be ok if the movie wasn't such a disorganized, unfunny, uninteresting mess, and if the hero wasn't such an asshole that I sincerely hoped the terrorists would torture and kill him.

This movie made me realize my overarching problem with most big-budget contemporary movies (the indie ones suck for entirely different reasons): the studios aren't even bothering to try to make good movies anymore. They don't have to. iron man comes on screen, the comic book nerds go "wooo!" Doesn't matter if it's a shit character in a shit story with a shit performance by phoning-it-in Robert Downey (who even admits it in interviews). None of that matters, because hey, it's Iron Man! In a movie!

Right now I'm dreading going to Indiana Jones 4, because I know what will happen. Indy will come on the screen, or they'll show the hat, or the whip. And people will go wild, because they see something they recognize. Why bother even trying to create something good when you can just refer to something that was good once?
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:29 PM on May 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


adamrice: I'm a grad student, and in Literature no less, so overthinking plates of beans is sort of my bread and butter. Still, I'm curious why you feel as though it's absurd on its face to think that Iron Man could be a sustained metaphor for something in the real world. Why couldn't it be the case -- and, really, wouldn't we expect it to be the case -- that a comic book revolving around an alcoholic defense-industry billionaire who uses advanced military technology to become a flawed superhero might be making some comment on the role and use of American military might in the world at large?
posted by gerryblog at 1:30 PM on May 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


He's certainly putting a bit too much weight on the movies shoulders, and pretty much admits as much in the article. And lets face it, if Downey was staring mournfully into the camera being all subtexty and emo for half the movie because the world is a bad place it would suck, and we've got enough superhero movies that do that.

Also, a new movie based on drunk Iron Man or War Machine would be awesome, and it looks like they're set up for that.
posted by Artw at 1:31 PM on May 16, 2008


the single best movie ever made about a comic book character

If we;re talking Superhero movies I don't disagree, though the first two Supermen and the first two Spidermen give it a run for it's money. And maybe Batman 2.
posted by Artw at 1:32 PM on May 16, 2008


I thought the film DID address the current shituation in Afghaniraq. If it wasn't anti-imperialistic, it was anti-military-industrial-complex.
SPOILER ALERT!!
SPOILER ALERT!!
In the film, Iron Man fights Arab "terrorists" who are being supplied and supported by a corrupt American defense industry bent on increasing profits by fomenting terror and fear.
posted by whatgorilla at 1:35 PM on May 16, 2008


(And no, The Incredibles doesn't count)
posted by Artw at 1:35 PM on May 16, 2008


I will grant that the first Superman and Spiderman movies are up there, but would argue that Iron Man is superior, but the only way "And maybe Batman 2." makes sense is if you only count Batman and Batman Begins as actual Batman movies and have suppressed the memories of all the other ones and you actually mean Batman Begins. Otherwise your statement makes no sense. Danny De Vito?

Also, yeah The Incredibles doesn't count.
posted by ND¢ at 1:37 PM on May 16, 2008


Why is it Superman, Spiderman, Batman etc., but Iron Man? Why not Ironman? WTF?
posted by ND¢ at 1:38 PM on May 16, 2008


Note: I thought Iron Man was the second-best superhero film, right behind "Batman Begins". After the age of 13 I've pretty much hated all these superhero films--but then, I'm gen-x, so I hate everything that's not ironic or, y'know a sustained metaphor critiquing capitalism, apple pie, etc.
posted by whatgorilla at 1:39 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't rate Batman Begins all that highly, TBH. Sure, nice Scarecrow and nice origins stuff, but the fight scenes are basically the equivalent of one of those cartoon clouds with fist and obfuscated swears sticking out, and the plot doesn’t really stand up to much scrutiny at all.
posted by Artw at 1:46 PM on May 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


ND¢ - It's actually Spider-Man. Otherwise DC sues them.
posted by Artw at 1:47 PM on May 16, 2008


Iron Man is a comic book.

The fact that it's a comic book doesn't make it inherently less interesting or meaningful. The Old Man And The Sea is a novel, but so are all the Harlequin Romances; whatever their individual merit, the format is just the box the art ships in.

I'd even be willing to say Ackermann doesn't go far enough in is claim, or acknowledge the earliest roots of his argument at least. The very earliest history of the Iron Man character describes the armor, built in collaboration with a Chinese scientist, covering his chest following a serious injury to his heart. The armor protects him from further injury with a nod to the fact that once it goes on, it can't ever come all the way off again.

So what are the authors talking about, there? Failed relationships? The dangers of a military-industrial complex? The perils of international trade? Christ, I don't know, but there's lots of possibilities.

Not to say there's not a lot of bad and irrelevant comics out there, but like a lot of stories supposedly aimed at kids, there's plenty to be found in good comic books for adults willing to look; if you can't find some subversive symbolism in there, believe me, it's not because it's not there.
posted by mhoye at 1:51 PM on May 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I never noticed that it is Spider-Man. Huh. That is funny. Maybe that is why spellcheck was telling me that Spiderman was wrong.
posted by ND¢ at 1:53 PM on May 16, 2008


You could read it like that, though you could read it a whole bunch of other ways too. That's one of the fun things about these long running iconic characters.
posted by Artw at 1:55 PM on May 16, 2008


One of the very cool things about the Iron Man movie was the fact that he actually put his "powers" to geopolitical use, rather than running off to beat up a gang of muggers.

I've often thought that the recent spate of superhero movies reflects the political mood, in much the same way that movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers had a subtext about Communism. Consider the moral of the story in Spiderman I and The Incredibles: you can't hide your power/exceptionalism under a rock, but must instead exercise it wisely ("With great power comes great responsibility"). Can you see the parallels to our situation as the current lone "superpower?" Batman Begins, even moreso with questions about whether you can fight fear (terror) with fear (and let's not forget Ras A Ghul's (sp?) blatant terrorist plot). But Iron Man? Sheeeeit, he just flies his ass over to Afghanistan and aggressively confronts his own blowback. No beating around the Bush, here.
posted by Edgewise at 1:57 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


ND¢ - I'm having trouble digging up a cite for this, but as I understand it at some point DC laid claim on [noun]man, so Marvel characters were all [noun] man and [noun]-man. I've no idea if they still try to push that particular point, because theres probably a whole bunch of non-DC [noun]men out there now.
posted by Artw at 2:00 PM on May 16, 2008


Uh... The Incredibles does very much count.

The very existence of The Incredibles makes the Fantastic Four movies look even more like shit than they already do. The only good thing about the recent FF movies is Michael Chiklis, and cuz of the pathetic scripts, he's completely under appreciated and poorly utilized. What a pathetic waste. All that money and time and resources and the previous buried failures, and they still couldn't get it right.

It's Fantastic Four, for crying out loud. How can you possibly fuck that up? Well, watching the last two movies there's apparently a thousand ways. First, you hire a beautiful and vain actor to play Doctor Doom and then give him face time. It's Doctor Doom! He's got a mask for a reason! You don't give him face time!!

Iron Man? Is that out finally? After all the hubbub and the talk. I still haven't seen it. I don't believe the hype. The last Hulk movie left a very bad taste in my mouth. I think it was arsenic. So forgive me if I didn't line up with the rest of you on opening day of the walking tin can.

In the comic books of my youth, Iron Man was about as charismatic as an ATM machine that's out of order. Tony Stark has never been all that interesting, unless you like the blatant metaphor of a guy drinking himself into his own beer can. Sheesh. I'd rather have to watch Ghost Rider again. At least that made me laugh.

Wake me up when they get serious about Doctor Strange. Of course, odds are they'll cast Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp and I'll be forced to bang my head against a wall repeatedly until I'm a bloody stump. I still haven't forgiven Hollywood for casting Keanu Reeves as Constantine. The ripe bastards. I hope someone got kicked to the curb over that one.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:00 PM on May 16, 2008


Wake me up when they get serious about Doctor Strange.

It's too late, man, Vincent Price is gone.
posted by mhoye at 2:02 PM on May 16, 2008


I wonder if Christopher Lees heart could take it...
posted by Artw at 2:04 PM on May 16, 2008


I see Morgan Freeman in that role.
posted by ND¢ at 2:05 PM on May 16, 2008


What does Steven Rattazzi actually look like?
posted by Artw at 2:05 PM on May 16, 2008


Vincent Price is gone.

Maybe they could do a Dr. Orpheus movie instead. Because I would totally go see that.

I HAD TACO BELLLLLLLL FOR LUNCH!
posted by middleclasstool at 2:09 PM on May 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dr. Strange needs to be a bit of a shit, can Morgan Freeman do that?
posted by Artw at 2:09 PM on May 16, 2008


Joe Clark was kind of an asshole at times. As was the pimp.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:10 PM on May 16, 2008


Oh wait Morgan Freeman is already Lucius Fox, so that wouldn't work. I don't think that you can be two different people in two different comic book movies.
posted by ND¢ at 2:10 PM on May 16, 2008


I don't see how Downey's performance can possibly be faulted. Stark is supposed to be a drunken, womanizing asshole. Any actual acting Downey did could only have taken him further from the character.
posted by agentofselection at 2:11 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


in the film, Iron Man fights Arab "terrorists" who are being supplied and supported by a corrupt American defense industry bent on increasing profits by fomenting terror and fear.

I dunno how "Arab" they were; there was at least one reference to the mishmash of languages in the camp (from Urdu to Hungarian, I believe) and more often than not the terrorists were actually speaking Hindi.
posted by heeeraldo at 2:11 PM on May 16, 2008


Maybe that is why spellcheck was telling me that Spiderman was wrong.

Spiderman isn't wrong. Murray Spiderman is a good boy, and a doctor. Why can't you be more like him?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:14 PM on May 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


Tony Stark/Iron Man is a twisted reflection of Dr. Doom. In place of Doom's petulant genius who tragically falls in part from his oedipal leanings, Stark's more self-focusing, though this aspect is as much of a liability to him as it is to others he encounters. While Doom tends to lash out at others, Stark abused himself through his drinking binges and the flagrant regard he had for others' goodwill. As a villain, Doom is intended to be hated and pitied by comics readers, as a means of drawing them to the character. Stark, on the other hand, bears the pangs of self-loathing and despair; the manner in which he deals with his feelings is what defines him as a hero to his audience.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:14 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh wait, Jon Favreau was both Franklin 'Foggy' Nelson and Harold 'Happy' Hogan, so Morgan Freeman is back on to play Doctor Strange.
posted by ND¢ at 2:17 PM on May 16, 2008


Thor ftw.
posted by Sailormom at 2:18 PM on May 16, 2008


I don't see how Downey's performance can possibly be faulted. Stark is supposed to be a drunken, womanizing asshole. Any actual acting Downey did could only have taken him further from the character.

He's perfect to the point that when I sent my brother in law a link to that Demon In a Bottle cover he thought it was some kind of photoshop trickery based on Downey taking the role.
posted by Artw at 2:18 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


There are many flaws in the Iron Man movie, that bother me greatly because they do not match up with the original story that I grew up loving. First of all, they got the origin all wrong. The movie shows Tony Stark getting blown up by a bomb, while on an arms sales trip. It is well known, though, that he was actually turned to steel in the great magnetic field. Also missing was the pivotal time-travel sequence, for the future of mankind. The film portrays Iron Man as a heroic figure, but in the original story he kills the people he once saved. In the film, he is a charismatic playboy type who lots of women want. In the original story, however, nobody wants him. The costume was all wrong too. His boots in the movie seem to be made of some lightweight metal alloy. In the original story, they are heavy boots. I believe they are, in fact, made of lead.

Also, what's all this about a comic book?
posted by Cookiebastard at 2:19 PM on May 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


THOU DOST MOCK THOR?
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on May 16, 2008


Murray Spiderman is a good boy, and a doctor.

Dude, do you remember the old TV series? When they'd go to commercial? And the announcer pronounced it like a Jewish surname, would say something like "We'll be right back with more of the adventures of Spidermun?"

Because I do.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:19 PM on May 16, 2008


Still, I'm curious why you feel as though it's absurd on its face to think that Iron Man could be a sustained metaphor for something in the real world.

The comic-book business doesn't work like that. I'm not sure how many different writers have worked on Iron Man since the mag's inception, but it's a lot. Let's say 20. Plus some number of editors. Probably fewer.

Editors throw a sort of stasis field over the mags that they edit—it's their job to preserve some kind of grand vision for the title character and how he fits in with the other titles published by that house. Writers have their own ideas of what to do with the character, and the two of them duke it out. The editor always wins if there's a serious disagreement on the overall direction of the title. With all these different voices, I don't see how it would be possible to really sustain any kind of underlying message.

Iron Man dates back to the 60s at which time it exemplified anti-communism, and not in an ironic way. Obviously any political message in it has changed since then. I've got a hundred or so Iron Man comic books in the attic from back in the 80s. I haven't read them since then, but IIRC, there really wasn't any strong political undercurrent in any of those books. It was just Iron Man fighting gonzo bad guys.
posted by adamrice at 2:20 PM on May 16, 2008


am the only one who noticed the movie was crap? ... the studios aren't even bothering to try to make good movies anymore.

drjimmy: needless to say, your opinion on Iron Man is not one shared by very many people, including the nation's top film critics who were overwhelming positive about IRON MAN. And these are not people who are, generally speaking, positively predisposed towards comic book movies.

IRON MAN is regarded by most people as a very good movie. Rightly so, I think.
posted by Justinian at 2:20 PM on May 16, 2008


Editors throw a sort of stasis field over the mags that they edit—it's their job to preserve some kind of grand vision for the title character and how he fits in with the other titles published by that house.

Sure, but over time, for sheer marketability's sake, if a character doesn't shift with the culture, he'll die on the vine. Witness the many Batmans we've seen over the last sixty years, for instance. I agree that it's not intentional on Marvel or any comic publisher's part, but the literature reflects the culture it thrives in.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:24 PM on May 16, 2008


Also, dude, a metaphor doesn't have to be on purpose.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:27 PM on May 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


MetaFilter: alcoholism, Civil-War general overzealousness, and persistent blundering into a hell of unintended consequences.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:28 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


"But the real world does not contain magic suits that kill the bad guys without harming the civilians and let the good guy fly away without a scratch on him."

Sadly true.
posted by homunculus at 2:30 PM on May 16, 2008


That American Prospect article is very good. One of the best critiques I've seen which takes into account the comics, the movie, drama and politics.
posted by ...possums at 2:31 PM on May 16, 2008


Pretty much. So a Miller Batman and a Morrison Batman are both perfectly valid interpretations of the character (and, er, an Adam West Batman, I guess). Likewise you could have an Iron Man the way Ackerman sees him and a big screen Action Movie Iron Man and they are both fit withion the bounds of the character.

Talking of Miller, WTF is this Spirit movie they are trailering at the moment? It loosk like fucking Sin City 2. Wil Eisner must be doing several thousand RPM in his grave right now.
posted by Artw at 2:32 PM on May 16, 2008


Metafilter: a hell of unintended consequences
posted by localroger at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2008


WTF is this Spirit movie they are trailering at the moment?

Seriously. The trailer had me wincing a bit. Putting Miller in charge of adapting that property worries the hell out of me, and I'm not at all well versed in the Spirit, so I don't really have a fanboy dog in the fight..
posted by middleclasstool at 2:50 PM on May 16, 2008


Miller clearly loves Eisner, and Sin City clearly owes a debt to The Spirit. I’m pretty certain that making a Sin City version of The Spirit is not the way to repay that debt.
posted by Artw at 2:53 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Iron Man earned 105 million dollars opening weekend, and the Monday after (May 5) Marvel stock (MVL) rose by more than 9%.

Why? Because Iron Man is the first movie Marvel produced itself.

Iron Man represents the dawn of a new era at Marvel, one in which it produces its own movies in-house, instead of farming them out to other studios for a licensing fee. The difference in profit potential is like the difference between a 99-pound weakling and a superhero.

To give you an idea, consider that the Spider-Man movies, produced by Sony Pictures, typically deliver $15 million to $25 million in box-office revenues to Marvel, plus a bit more in DVD sales and TV licensing. Iron Man, over the course of the film's revenue-generating life, roughly seven years, could deliver $300 million in revenues (including the take from DVDs and television), figures Stifel Nicolaus analyst Drew Crum. That, he says, would translate into earnings of roughly $1.10 per share. "That's meaningful, and that's only one of several films slated over the next few years," says Crum.

What's more, under the old model, Marvel would have to fork over 15% to 25% of its share of merchandising sales to its studio partners. Now, Marvel can keep every T-shirt, toy or trading card tie-in to itself.

And Iron Man's no fluke. The average box office take for previous PG- and PG13-rated films involving Marvel characters has been north of $200 million. Next up from Marvel's studio: The Incredible Hulk, to be released in June; followed by Iron Man 2 and Thor, due out in 2010; and Captain America and The Avengers (a consortium of superheroes including Iron Man and Hulk), slated for 2011.


From Kiplinger
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 2:53 PM on May 16, 2008


Iron Man dates back to the 60s at which time it exemplified anti-communism, and not in an ironic way. Obviously any political message in it has changed since then. I've got a hundred or so Iron Man comic books in the attic from back in the 80s. I haven't read them since then, but IIRC, there really wasn't any strong political undercurrent in any of those books. It was just Iron Man fighting gonzo bad guys.

It seems that you didn't read the article, which points out that Iron Man began as anti-communist, and didn't change until the 70's. So the parts you remember well agree with the article, and if you didn't notice any subtext to half-remembered comics you haven't read in 25 years, well, that's no surprise.

But it's fun to have opinions, isn't it?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:54 PM on May 16, 2008


Thanks for posting this gerryblog. It looks interesting & I plan on reading it tonight. Unlike some, and I know it's not everyone's bag, I looove overthinking comicbooks. Glad to see I have some company.

I haven't seen Iron Man yet, tho' I'm hoping to soon. I don't have any high expectations really but I know Downey can be a decent actor when he wants to be so hopefully it will be fun (at the very least).

My favorite superhero movie thus far is still X-Men 2. I watch the opening scene on a regular basis for inspiration & amazement.

By the way, my open bounty on Brett Ratner for the travesty that was X3 still stands.

(Actually, if anyone wanted to muss Bryan Singer up a bit for walking out on X3 to put out Superblah Returns, that'd be good too.)
posted by jammy at 2:57 PM on May 16, 2008


Miller clearly loves Eisner, and Sin City clearly owes a debt to The Spirit.

I'm pretty sure there's a book of conversations between them...ah, yes. Might be worth a read. But I don't know that Miller will be able to keep his issues with women, gays, and nationalism out of it. That's the part that really worries me.

Next up from Marvel's studio: The Incredible Hulk, to be released in June; followed by Iron Man 2 and Thor, due out in 2010; and Captain America and The Avengers (a consortium of superheroes including Iron Man and Hulk), slated for 2011.

Here's the full, surprisingly long list of what they've got in store. Though I'll be surprised if all of those get made.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:59 PM on May 16, 2008


I will only accept that Iron Man represents imperial America, if we can agree that Aquaman is a clear example of our fears of Communism. It's so obvious when you see that Black Jack is just a stand in for Lenin.
posted by quin at 3:02 PM on May 16, 2008


Also, dude, a metaphor doesn't have to be on purpose.


Thank you. All those comments about authorial intent were getting to me.
posted by voltairemodern at 3:11 PM on May 16, 2008


I'm kind of digging the way that The Avengers seems to be at the core of this, and that all the films seem to be ones that could set it up, with "The First Avenger: Captain America"* being a pretty heavy nod to that. I'm not even that much of an Avengers fan, my inner nerd just likes that kind of thing. I guess theres a danger of some of them being Sci-Fi original feature style filler, but Iron Man is a good start.

* I'm betting this will not be a heartfelt critique of America as a global power either.
posted by Artw at 3:15 PM on May 16, 2008


Why in the world is Marvel making an Ant-Man movie? I know they need continuity for The Avengers movie, but....Ant-Man? Really? Who read Ant-Man?

I'd rather see Power Man and Iron Fist than Ant-Man.

/derail
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:21 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


BitterOldPunk - Double check who's making it. I'm seeing that one for sure.
posted by Artw at 3:23 PM on May 16, 2008


Superman. Batman 2(Michael Keaton), Conan. Iron man was too choppy. Great acting, bad camera work and editing. Jeff Bridges was wasted. Without the actors, the movie would have been one of the worst, like Elektra. I want to see a New Mutant movie. Warlock was one of the coolest characters I've seen.
posted by Flex1970 at 3:31 PM on May 16, 2008


Jeff Bridges was wasted is totally a set up line for a Downey joke. TBH I thought he was suprisingly good in that role.

I want to see a New Mutant movie.

The horror, the horror...
posted by Artw at 3:45 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Incredibles is the best superhero movie ever made. All superhero movies should be more like the Incredibles. All the things that make superheroes great? The Incredibles nails them. The little giggle Dash gives when he looks down and sees that he's running on top of the water? Just that one moment captures the joy of superpowers better than anything else on film. Only the scene in the first Spider-Man where he learns to web swing comes close. Tony Stark's first flight in the Iron Man suit is also pretty good.

And will we ever see another female superhero character who is even remotely as strong, smart, and competent as Helen Parr?

The rest of the top 5 superhero movies evar are, in no particular order: Superman 2, Spider-Man 2, X-Men 2, and Iron Man.

And Buffy the Vampire Slayer best captures the feel of a good series of superhero comics.
posted by straight at 3:49 PM on May 16, 2008


Parody, animated, doesn't count.
posted by Artw at 3:51 PM on May 16, 2008


Well I have one consolation that helps me sleep at night. Hollywood will never make a movie about the "Firestorm the Nuclear Man."

I mean the one that was created by Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom. Hollywood has made movies named Firestorm, and there was the villain "Nuclear Man" in that horrendous Superman sequel. However, the concept of a college student and a professor merging into a superhero and Martin Stein is just a voice inside Ronnie Raymond's head? Hollywood will never wrap their mind around that one. The arch nemesis being a woman so cold she freezes you with a kiss? Hollywood won't touch that. Is that actual fire coming out of his head or is it just an illusion? Again, Hollywood would fuck that up royally.

Now, they might try to create a movie out of the crapola that's being passed off currently as a re-awakening of the superhero. I hear it's some guy named Jason and Ronnie's ex-girlfriend. That's cool. Whatever. I don't care if they do that. Ronnie Raymond was killed off and that chapter of the Firestorm story is closed forever. I mean, he's no Clark Kent. They're not gonna bother bringing him back to life.

The Ronnie Raymond version of Firestorm was successful enough in some circles, but not enough to ever be worth the resources that would be required to even attempt it, much less actually do it right, and some argue that Firestorm was the dumbest superhero ever, and they are more than welcome to their opinion.

For me? Firestorm kicked major ass and was a lot of fun. There will never be a movie. So my enjoyment of that comic book series need never be ruined or tainted by corporate establishment telling me how it should look and sound in motion. That slice of my childhood will forever remain intact.

Unlike what George Lucas did to my memories of Star Wars... not that I'm bitter.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:59 PM on May 16, 2008


Firestorm is no Rebis.
posted by Artw at 4:07 PM on May 16, 2008


Artw, that's like comparing napalms to nougat. *smirk*
posted by ZachsMind at 4:09 PM on May 16, 2008


FWIW Firestorms power inflation problem doesn't sound half as bad as Swamp Things.
posted by Artw at 4:13 PM on May 16, 2008


I'd rather see Power Man and Iron Fist...

fuck yeah.

On the other hand, I always cringe when I hear of Hollywood about to make a movie about anything I once found inspiring in pursuit of a cheap greasy buck. Look what happened to V for Vendetta. I do hope that the Watchmen doesn't receive the same shallow hackjob, but who am I kidding?

I generally think most movies cannot convey the depth & complexity that is necessary to deal with most comic book characters, simply because these characters have been developed over long & convoluted series of storylines & intersecting narratives. (Or, in the case of Alan Moore, a short series. But he's a genius.) This is the problem the plagues the Spiderman movies: the writers/directors trying to jam too damn much mythology into a couple hours.

A limited TV series would be a better choice for most of these stories/characters.

By the way, Hollywood: Leave Shang Chi alone. Fair warning.
posted by jammy at 4:20 PM on May 16, 2008


THOU DOST MOCK THOR?

Thor is the originator of my favorite line in all of comicdom. He's in the middle of a fight with a seemingly invincible villain (Ultron, I believe it was), and he lets loose the following gem:

"He doth shrug off my blows as though they were the lightest of summer rains."

Even as a child I knew that, holy shit, that's a whole lot of qualifiers. It's not enough that the villain is shrugging off Thor's best shots as though they were rain, nor even as though they were summer rain. No, they bounced off of the villain as though they were the very lightest of rains of the summer.

That's some good writing, right there.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:21 PM on May 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow, this is the most happiest MF thread I've read in months!

[gets popcorn, begins clicking through links, tries to sort through excitement generated by just the possibility of a really good Antman movie]
posted by humannaire at 4:26 PM on May 16, 2008


While I agree that as an homage, the Incredibles doesn't really count, before Iron Man came out I argued for it as my favorite superhero movie. Or, at the very least, a movie with superheroes in it, which seems like a bit of a foolish distinction. When you're talking about something that comes from a comic book, I really don't see why animation shouldn't count. Batman: The Animated Series is, for instance, my favorite screen rendition of the character, and along with Year One and the Dark Knight Returns one of my three favorite representations, period.

As far as the actual topic of the thread goes, despite the changing editors and writers that have been in control of the title over the years, I think the themes of empire and American military interference are present over the long decades of Iron Man's existence, even if inconsistently. That being said, I don't think those themes have necessarily impacted my enjoyment of the character, except providing some overarching background as he fights the Mandarin.

ps. I thought the bit at the end with Nick Fury was kind of lame. Am I the only one who is dubious about an Avenger's film? In addition, I don't see Samuel L. Jackson as anyone but himself any more, and yes I know it's based on the Ultimate version which is Samuel L. Jackson.
posted by Muttoneer at 4:32 PM on May 16, 2008


Also, IMO, Iron Man was pretty terrific, the finale was ordinary/too much like Spider-man 1, Bridges was wasted, the pro-war/might-makes-right-and-is-cool sentiment was too strong (I'd say an "11" on a scale of 1 to 10), and Downey was bang-on.

Agreed, one of the best made superhero movies yet. And since most superheroes seem like complete wankers to me now as an adult ("good versus evil"? Weak.), that's saying something.

I may have pointed it out before, but the 10-year old who was accompanied by rated it a 92. This from a person who gave Transformers an 88, and the last two Spider-man sequals low-60s.

Since he is a genius and can already write pretty solid HTML, plus he's actually 10, to me, that's really saying something.
posted by humannaire at 4:32 PM on May 16, 2008


Oh yeah, if Iron Man wasn't a US-approved commercial for the military, then what was up with the 15-minutes of ads for every branch of the service that ran prior to the film's screening?

It was like, "Wanna be Iron Man and fight the bad guys? Well, you can...as a marine!"
posted by humannaire at 4:35 PM on May 16, 2008


Artw, I think you have parody confused with homage.
posted by lekvar at 4:42 PM on May 16, 2008


I don't get all the critical acclaim for The Incredibles. It's the most formulaic and pedestrian Pixar movie (except maybe Cars, which I haven't seen). Once you know the general theme ("family has superpowers; government won't let them use them; they try to live a normal life"), there are zero surprises in store. The family bonding scenes wouldn't have been out of place on an episode of Coach, and all the parodic stuff about monologuing and the silliness of capes was tired. I don't really see what the movie has going for it other than cool animation.

Iron Man was definitely a great movie, though. Except for most of the scenes with Iron Man. They should have just called the movie Tony Stark. I could have watched Robert Downey Junior as a genius playboy asshole for the full two hours.
posted by painquale at 5:26 PM on May 16, 2008


The little giggle Dash gives when he looks down and sees that he's running on top of the water?

That's my favorite moment in the movie. Sends a chill up my spine.
posted by Edgewise at 5:28 PM on May 16, 2008


I'd rather see Power Man and Iron Fist than Ant-Man.

Your wish may come true.
posted by homunculus at 5:31 PM on May 16, 2008


homunculus: cool! I had no idea.

*crosses fingers, awaits film version of "A Man Called Nova"*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:37 PM on May 16, 2008


My favourite superhero is WHATEVER, MAN.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:47 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


brilliant post.

on a much, much smaller scale: did anyone else notice the weak home security system ironman had? there are a constant stream of intruders to his living room. wouldn't you expect anyone with that kind of technology in his basement and that kind of assistant to have at least a contract with brinks or some cameras?
posted by krautland at 5:57 PM on May 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


The great moments in comic-movies revive the gods in our soul.
The descent of Persephone as Batman takes the girl to the cave.
The ascent of Kali as Mystique kicks Wolverines ass.
"You are a god among ants."

They reflect the stages of life in a way that Joseph Campbell would've understood.
Recall Peter Parker spurting web-goo; such a nice boy.

Myths touch parts of ourselves we'd rather not see.
Who can deny the force of Magneto's arguments,
a Jew horribly abused by Nazi arrogance.
How much was that about the human spirit,
and how much about world politics?
The percentages needn't have been mapped out beforehand
for us to feel that a deep truth is being expressed.
posted by dragonsi55 at 6:13 PM on May 16, 2008


This article touched on my biggest gripe with a movie I otherwise enjoyed: despite occasional lip-service to the idea that war profiteering is a Bad Thing, it entirely portrayed the problem with weapons manufacturing as being the possibility that scary terrorists bent on world domination for no particular reason might get their hands on them. Oh no!

Not once was there a moment of reflection, in a movie that was supposed to be *about* a man reflecting on his role as a weapons manufacturer, that there might be some problems with these weapons being in the hands of the U.S. military. That some of those destroyed villages and dead innocents might be the accidental or intentional by-products of American force.

I didn't necessarily expect there to be a lot of that, but I was appalled that there was *nothing*. Not a single moment when a terrorist mentioned that hey, maybe he was a terrorist because of a dead relative. Not a word from the doctor in the beginning of the movie that ordinary people might be terrified of both sides. Not a hint from Stane that he considered selling weapons to both sides to be exactly the same; they gave him money and killed people with his weapons - what's the difference? It would have taken a sentence. There was nothing.

And given the nature of the movie, that omission pretty much had to be deliberate. That never crossed anyone's mind?

To me, that took a potentially powerful story and diminished it with a cowardly cop-out.
posted by kyrademon at 6:25 PM on May 16, 2008


krautland on a much, much smaller scale: did anyone else notice the weak home security system ironman had? there are a constant stream of intruders to his living room. wouldn't you expect anyone with that kind of technology in his basement and that kind of assistant to have at least a contract with brinks or some cameras?

I noticed that.

I also noticed that, in addition to a cool suit of armor, the man has an (almost) FREE ENERGY DEVICE! Which is, in other words, an (almost) perpetual motion machine. Which is, in other words, so, so much more important than anything Iron Man and a thousand like him could do, that the only thing comparable is the discovery of fire.

But I still loved the movie. :)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:11 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why is it Superman, Spiderman, Batman etc., but Iron Man? Why not Ironman? WTF?

Actually, it's Spider-Man (hyphenated). As for Superman and Batman. Maybe they're Jewish...
posted by autodidact at 7:26 PM on May 16, 2008


Oh, and put me down as one who is really really excited for an Ant Man movie. We haven't had a really good microscale effects movie since Innerspace in 1987!
posted by autodidact at 7:38 PM on May 16, 2008


My dad has an early (?) issue of Doll-Man.
The guy gets really tiny, or something.
He won't let me TOUCH the fucker, even though he's got it triple-sealed.
posted by Dizzy at 7:39 PM on May 16, 2008


I think Iron Man may or may not save his "My God, what has science wrought?" scene where he weeps over various burning villages for the second movie, if ever. My reading of various associated articles more or less suggests that Iron Man, as a personality, is pretty much "gung-ho America, the US can do no wrong!" for the vast majority of the time - almost as dedicated to keeping the status quo as that grinding goody two shoes Kal-El. And, well, I was okay with this film being mostly angst-free.

I liked Iron Man: no huge surprises, the special effects didn't try to overwhelm everything, and Downey's nonchalant, hand-in-the-cookie-jar "Be honest: this isn't the worst thing you've caught me doing" approach was kind of a relief after characters whose superpowers seem to match their overwhelming senses of responsibility and self-pity. I mean, really, what do you want out of a character who is a war profiteer? Nicholas Cage to step out of Lord of War and into the shiny suit, then spend the film getting all weepy about his estrangement from friends and family? "J.A.R.V.I.S., let's re-spec the suit so my SALTY TEARS don't cause so many short circuits when I'm flying around and finding some new, remote places to perch and brood upon!" Yeah, that'd be a fun flick.

And I say this as someone who hates being dragged to "Yay Films With Explosions" by an incendiary-loving friend who must see, on the opening night, any movie where stuff blows up REAL GOOD!
posted by adipocere at 8:06 PM on May 16, 2008


My reading of various associated articles more or less suggests that Iron Man, as a personality, is pretty much "gung-ho America, the US can do no wrong!" for the vast majority of the time - almost as dedicated to keeping the status quo as that grinding goody two shoes Kal-El. And, well, I was okay with this film being mostly angst-free.

As a comics nerd, I can confirm that this aspect of Tony Stark's character has been the defining aspect of the shared continuity of Marvel's core universe for most of the past three years. In 2006 there was a massive cross-title event called Civil War, where a faction of heroes led by Tony Stark decided to back a government initiative to require all superhumans to register their real identities with the government. It was a lot better than most big "events" of this sort. Somewhat ironically, Captain America was leader of the "resistance" faction who refused to co-operate with the government.

As part of Civil War, or resulting from it, Spider-Man revealed his secret identity, Tony Stark ended up as director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hulk got exiled into space, and Captain America got killed.
posted by autodidact at 8:16 PM on May 16, 2008


But really, what superhero hasn't been kiilled at one time or another?
posted by Justinian at 8:51 PM on May 16, 2008


In 2006 there was a massive cross-title event called Civil War, where a faction of heroes led by Tony Stark decided to back a government initiative to require all superhumans to register their real identities with the government.

Not to leap to his defense here, but it's worth noting that initially he opposed the idea of registration, even went to a Congressional hearing to make the case against it, but later switched sides when he saw what he perceived to be the inevitability of the measure and decided it would be better to side with the government, where he would have some measure of control over how far things went. His motivations were pragmatic, not jingoistic, and as I believe was noted either here or in another thread, after Cap's death he admitted that it "wasn't worth it."

I'm far from being an expert on the character, but I don't know him to be a "the US can do no wrong" sort of guy. Genius or no, you don't get to be a successful businessman of his caliber without at least a tinge of a Machiavellian streak. I don't see him following Uncle Sam into hell on nationalistic principle.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:14 PM on May 16, 2008


Hey guys the movie was CRAPPITY CRAP, Rottentomatoes should be ashamed with it almost 94%
posted by zouhair at 9:49 PM on May 16, 2008


We're all wrong.

The greatest super hero movie ever made was The Pumaman. It has a 9.6 out of ten stars over at the Internet Movie Database. If it's on dem dere interwebs it cain't possibly be wrong.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:58 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


It'd probably score higher if it didn't have those idiots yapping over the top of it.
posted by Artw at 10:05 PM on May 16, 2008


Not once was there a moment of reflection, in a movie that was supposed to be *about* a man reflecting on his role as a weapons manufacturer, that there might be some problems with these weapons being in the hands of the U.S. military. That some of those destroyed villages and dead innocents might be the accidental or intentional by-products of American force.

They try to walk both sides of the line on this one.

Stark is all "we're bad because we've been selling to both sides!" as if this is the only problem with the way he makes his money. This is pretty much consistent. Yet the Dude, er, bigger-suit-guy, goes off on these rants about how the biz will tip world power further and further into America's favour... well, if this is the bad guy's rant, it must be wrong, no? Sans double-dealing?

And of course the U.S. army itself is portrayed in practically angelic terms. "We haven't been able to move in -- they've been using human shields!" The suit was more realistic.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:52 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, fantastic superhero movie, though.

The Incredibles doesn't count. (yes, it's beyond-excellent)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:53 PM on May 16, 2008


Hey guys, check out this sweet CG clip of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Hulk fighting a giant robot: Marvel Entertainment CG
posted by autodidact at 10:56 PM on May 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


Joy, joy, joy. Here we are. Yet again. Watching the whole comic-fanboy V's movie crowd go at each other in some mastabatory frenzy of "they forgot X", "they totally misunderstood Y", "Man, they really fucked up Z - that's totally not what the whole mythos was about". Plus, we also have critics coming out of the woodwork and complaining about either too much or too little propaganda. Or something. You're entitled to your opinions. You can take them to your bunks for a time.

Iron Man was a movie. I liked it. It didn't make me sit through 50 minutes devoted entirely to tedious maunderings about the noble sacrifices of love and bravery (Spiderman, I'm looking at you) in what was apparently an attempt at "depth". Iron Man had a shallow guy getting a reality check of sorts and blowing up a pile of shit. It had revenge and kicking of arses. It was entertaining. And that's what I paid $15 for, frankly. If I want a message, I'll pick a church and get that for free.
posted by ninazer0 at 4:46 AM on May 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


BitterOldPunk, we apparently read & loved the some of the same comics...

A Man Called Nova ruled

(loved the one where he fought Megaman in the funhouse - super coolness)
posted by jammy at 5:22 AM on May 17, 2008


#They should have just called the movie 'Tony Stark'.

That'll be the title of the semi-prequel we'll be getting in 6 years time, when Robert Downey gets tired of the franchise and they get some new actor to take his place. Unfortunately, it'll also be some big emo production where the armor sits in the corner for most of the film while Stark comes to terms with the evolved 'duality' of his personality. Whether or not the introduce Stark's Extremis enhancements during Downey's tenure is anyone's guess.

I don't get all the critical acclaim for 'The Incredibles'.


The problem with The Incredibles was that Brad Bird invested it with lots of post-Watchmen meta-criticism that the live-action movies hadn't even begun to touch. After comics recovered from the speculation of the 90's folks like Warren Ellis published revisionist books that framed the JLA/Avengers groups as their own worst tyrrany -- "if people like that had powers, they'd try to take over the world..." -- that's what gave birth to Marvel's Civil War, though no Marvel characters (save the pro-registration Tony Stark of 2007) ever engaged in that kind of mania.

Most of the Hollywood movies are still in the '80's when it comes to a sophistication about the heroes' place in the world (cf. 'Fantastic Four I & II'). Quixotically, Marvel has officially reeled-in the hegemony of The Authority's manifest-destiny heroes. That the restriction of civil liberties in the Marvel U. corresponded with Bush-Cheney restraints in the real world is half an accident.
posted by vhsiv at 6:52 AM on May 17, 2008


Hey, autodidact, thanks for posting that clip. The Spidey on a cell phone thing was pretty funny.

And ninazer0, I'm so very sorry to hear that you're being cruelly forced to read this masturbatory frenzy. That sounds really rough.
posted by jammy at 7:17 AM on May 17, 2008


Meh, I'm a dedicated Batman film fan (in particular, the Michael Keaton and Christian Bale versions) and I don't read comic books so I didn't go into Iron Man with any expectations or pre-formed appreciation of the character. While I enjoyed the Iron Man movie's special effects and Gwyneth Paltrow's mousy girl performance (and without the fake British accent!), Tony Stark struck me as simply a misogynistic Bruce Wayne who's on a Ritalin and booze binge. Orphaned in youth? Check. Independently wealthy? Check. Isolated mansion on hill/cliff? Check. Bachelor playboy? Check. Butler/personal assistant who knows his secret identity? Check.

I'll be interested to see how long Robert Downey, Jr will play this out since Iron Man/Tony Stark seems to be a role he doesn't have to stretch much to perform. He's so much better than this but hey, who wouldn't want to be the star of a blockbuster which may prove to be a series of blockbusters?
posted by fuse theorem at 8:15 AM on May 17, 2008


I still remember learning to read because of comic books. Collecting returnable bottles and trading them in for cash. Good times. Iron man against the Crimson Dynamo. Bang! Smash!
The Incredible Hulk. Then as I got older and more mystical..I got into some more great stuff......
like Steve Ditko's Machine Man. I read that while listening to Tangerine Dream and tasting
chemicals. Wow man. Can U dig it!

I...am....Iron Man!
posted by doctorschlock at 8:37 AM on May 17, 2008


And on the subject of Downey, even "ani-painted," his performance in A Scanner Darkly shined through.
posted by humannaire at 8:42 AM on May 17, 2008


What the world really needs is a Those Annoying Post Bros. movie, dammit.
posted by waraw at 8:50 AM on May 17, 2008


And Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts? Grrroa-aoow!! Seriously, the role itself was lighter than Bridges' Obidiah Stane/Iron Monger character, but from her first scene Paltrow made it smolder.

Compare to the wet blanket that was Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane throughout the Spider-Man films. Mary Jane was Mary Jane before the films, and remains so after them, whereas Paltrow gives life to Pepper Potts, imparting henceforth ongoing relevance into a character who previously was, at best, a sidenote.

posted by humannaire at 8:56 AM on May 17, 2008


"kills the victums he once saved"
posted by clavdivs at 11:19 AM on May 17, 2008


"kills the people"
posted by clavdivs at 11:21 AM on May 17, 2008


Now that was fucking awesome, AutoDidact! Thanks!

Why can't they just make movies like that? We already know who these characters are. Why can't they just make a superhero movie about, say, the Avengers, and start the story with them already in costume saving the day - throw us into the action without origins and romantic subplots. If you wanna tug at the heartstrings of the audience, have the Hulk save a puppy. That's good.

If someone in the audience doesn't know who's who, tell them to pick up a damn comic before they enter the movie theater. Does everything have to be explained? I want a full length motion picture that does this for an hour and a half. I don't want a film that is critically acclaimed or a box office smash. I want a roller coaster. And I want them to come out more often than once every three years or so.

This ain't rocket science.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:43 AM on May 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


vhsiv: "The problem with The Incredibles was that Brad Bird invested it with lots of post-Watchmen meta-criticism that the live-action movies hadn't even begun to touch."

*scratches head*

That's a problem?

"After comics recovered from the speculation of the 90's folks like Warren Ellis published revisionist books that framed the JLA/Avengers groups as their own worst tyrrany -- "if people like that had powers, they'd try to take over the world..." -- that's what gave birth to Marvel's Civil War, though no Marvel characters (save the pro-registration Tony Stark of 2007) ever engaged in that kind of mania."

o.0

*scratches head again*

I still don't see how this is a problem.

I mean... sure okay the motion picture industry still hasn't caught up to the comic book industry regarding the depth and detail of these characters. In the Marvel universe they're still dealing with the whole Civil War fiasco and Speedball's become Penance. That's all pretty deep. Whereas, the motion picture industry has yet to even acknowledge Speedball's existence, much less make a movie about him. They can't ever make a movie about Penance because they'd first have to explain Speedball and how he was ...pretty pathetic actually. In fact the motion picture industry will NEVER catch up with the comics, nor should it.

In that aforementioned video which I've since learned originated from MarvelKids.com (there's a game there that pissed me off but you might enjoy), they put Hulk, Spidey, and BucketHead together cuz those three have recently made movies. Those kids are familiar with them. However, we know that current comic book continuity would not put these three on very friendly terms with one another. I doubt Peter Parker still has Tony Stark's phone number, and the Hulk recently tried to destroy the entire planet. But continuity sucks when you just want to have five minutes of fun.

Brad Bird and his team put into The Incredibles everything that would make The Incredibles AS incredible as he could possibly make it. The fact that included some "post-Watchmen meta-criticism" that other superhero movies can't juggle into their plots is only one of many aspects that make The Incredibles such an incredible film, and one that no one has a right to dismiss when we're talking about great super hero films. In my book, The Incredibles IS top on the list, precisely BECAUSE of what you consider to be a problem. That's it's strength. The Incredibles was supposed to be a kiddy family film, but it dealt with issues that Iron Man and Spider-Man 3 fell short of touching.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:22 PM on May 17, 2008


ZachsMind , the 'problem' is that pop-culture -- the comics vs. movies thing is out of joint -- some nominally adult thinking on the genre is stuck years behind some illiterate, snobby film-industry thinking that has outstripped it by almost an entire generation.

Back in the day, it was Christopher Reeve and the Superman franchise that were the only ones to get any respect. By and large, that's where the movie industry will remain -- in the '70's -- unless Zach Snyder pulls a triple with 'Watchmen' and pulls everyone into the post-Miller, post-Moore paradigm.

(Bryan Singer improved it some with his X-Men, but that ended when Fox was slow to approve his contract for X-men 3 and 4 -- yeah, Dark Phoenix was supposed to be a 2-parter. But Mr. Rothman balked and we got Brett Ratner, instead.)
posted by vhsiv at 1:52 PM on May 17, 2008


Vhsiv, sounds to me you're unhappy that square pegs don't fit in round holes.

Alan Moore has repeatedly been on record saying that he didn't make Watchmen to be cinematic. In fact, Watchmen proves the comic book to be a superior medium to motion pictures.

There are shots in Watchmen that you will not see repeated in the film, because the resources and time required to get that shot are far too cost ineffective. The fact each panel in the graphic novel is static allows each reader to dwell on each panel as long as they like before moving on to the next one - even stopping and 'rewinding' back a few pages or issues to review something again as their brain makes connections to words and images planted in the work to cause those kinds of doubletakes. You can't do that in the film medium. You're stuck forward at twenty-six frames a second, at least until the DVD comes out.

IF this is a problem, and I'm not willing to allow you that it is, it's a problem intrinsic to the cinematic medium, that may partly be resolved as DVD and other 'home viewing' technologies continue to allow film to 'catch up' as it were to the comic book. Instead, Hollywood often tries to bend the original source material to the will of the medium. As technology allows, I hope that in the future, the reverse will become the trend, and cinema will bend more to the will of the original source material.

Some will argue that most Stephen King films do not do justice to the novels. The film that I had going in my head when I read Firestarter did NOT star Drew Barrymore and George C Scott. Watching the film did not destroy my enjoyment of that novel, but I don't bow to the film as a superior retelling of what I had in my mind's eye.

Movies should not be superior to the original source material from where they 'borrow.' Frankly, film may just not be enough to properly convey some comic books. Ever. I'm okay with that.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:18 PM on May 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


even stopping and 'rewinding' back a few pages or issues to review something again as their brain makes connections to words and images planted in the work to cause those kinds of doubletakes.

So true - take Chapter V of The Watchmen, for example, the one focussed on Rorschach. I remember the dawning realization I experienced that the entire chapter was one huge Rorschach of layout, coloring & content - the first page mirroring the last & so on into the middle. Fucking brilliant.

I can't see how they would ever be able to do that in the medium of film.
posted by jammy at 6:58 AM on May 18, 2008


even "ani-painted,"

I believe the term is rotoscoped.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 9:27 AM on May 18, 2008


There are shots in, I think it's issue seven, where a reflection off a reflection becomes very significant in showing Nite Owl's paranoia about being watched, as his own goggles reflect in a mirror. It's possible to recreate that effect cinematically in camera, but it would be difficult and probably not worth the time and resources, as it's only a few seconds. Even if they tried it, it'll never be as cool on film as it is on the comics page.

Then there's the dream sequence where Nite Owl & Twilight Lady are kissing and become ground zero for a nuke. Again, you could generate it for film (probably using CGI) but you'll never match Gibbon's art.

Watchmen's gonna be a good movie, but it won't be the book. Nor should it. I hope it will be a glowing tribute to the book, but I wouldn't want it to be an improvement.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:56 AM on May 18, 2008


"...where Nite Owl & Twilight Lady.."

..oops. It was Silk Spectre, wasn't it? Now I gotta go pull my old copy out. I can't remember.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:06 AM on May 18, 2008


Iron Man rocked my fucking world and I would recommend watching it, if for no other reason, to spot Tom Morello’s cameo appearance.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:34 AM on May 19, 2008


If you wanna tug at the heartstrings of the audience, have the Hulk save a puppy. That's good.

If only MeFi had signatures. If only.
posted by ersatz at 1:48 PM on May 19, 2008


Torturing Iron Man: The Strange Reversals of a Pentagon Blockbuster
posted by homunculus at 5:16 PM on May 21, 2008


Welcome To The Summer Of White Guilt
posted by homunculus at 4:35 PM on June 8, 2008


Lot's of crappy emo angst ahoy!
posted by Artw at 4:45 PM on June 8, 2008


Iron Man's Repulsors Might Set on The Mandarin for Sequel
posted by homunculus at 5:17 PM on June 8, 2008


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