SECRET ORIGINS OF IRON MAN
PART SIX OF SIX
I, Robby Reed, creator of this web site and author of this article, did not like the IRON MAN movie. It wasn't horribly bad, but it was pretty bad. It suffers from "comic book movie" flaws so common that they have become unbearable cliches. These flaws mar virtually EVERY superhero movie. Everyone knows what they are. We can all list them. Apparently, the makers of this movie actually made such a list, but called it a screenplay.
First, I want to warn everyone up front that IRON MAN IS NOT FOR KIDS! Why? Because the movie contains sexual scenes, and brutal violence. Worst of all, though, in the beginning there are two scenes of graphic torture. Stark is half-drowned in one, and his assistant almost has a hot coal shoved down his throat in another. Theres other gross stuff, too. Why are such things necessary in what SHOULD be a movie for "kids of all ages"?
The filmmakers here seem secretly embarrassed to be making a comic book movie, and it's clear the big-name stars demanded lots of "face time" on screen. When there's no media around, I bet they all laugh at how stupid the whole "comic book" thing is.
This mindset usually results in using ANY excuse to keep the hero off the screen, so the "secret identity" scenes can give the actors face time, such as Toby Maguire's constant unmasking in the Spidey movies. Long story short: If you've seen the shots of Iron Man in full armor in the commercials, you've seen ALL there is to see. There ain't no more. Total armored screen time is about 20 minutes, and that's being generous.
Side Note: In the comics, it's long been said that "no one knows just how MANY gadgets Iron Man has in his armor." Well, in this movie at least, the answer is one. He flies, blasts, and has just ONE "gimmick-tech" type weapon. No stealth armor. No roller skates.
Seeing their work as "important," most filmmakers think the crap they produce is akin to the tablets of Moses, and issue loud angry protests against editing their genius. This results in bloated, overly long train wrecks that take a very, very long time to go nowhere, such as the first "Hulk" movie. The "Iron Man" movie is 126 minutes.
Virtually no one wants to see a superhero's origin story. We want the hero as the hero, not in training. Yet for some reason, it's an unwritten rule that such origins must take up at least a third of any superhero movie, they must be tedious, and they must also generate the movie's super-VILLAIN. It happens in EVERY comic book movie. We all know it's stupid. We all know it's predictable. If you told a director you were writing such a scene in a screenplay, he would laugh you out of town. But in the "Iron Man" movie, it is exactly what happens: Shellhead's origin leads to the creation of an "evil twin" bad guy called the "Iron Monger." Urgh. They did this stuff a million times better in the "Robocop" movies.
The performances: Paltrow is totally incidental here. Her character makes no sense, and could easily be done without. The filmmakers seem to think she's Lois Lane. The guy who plays Rhodey is very good, but he is given little to do. Jeff Bridges as Stane is good, but his scenes are very tedious, and completely unnecessary. As Shellhead, Robert Downey jr. is OK, but never at any second did I feel as though I liked him, or felt any sympathy towards him. He was fairly obnoxious throughout. The direction was servicable, if unstylized. All in all, the film is not fun, and is in fact grim and (dare I say it) mechanical.
So, another wasted opportunity. Millions of dollars and years of hard work by thousands of talented people produces a cookie-cutter screenplay with banal dialogue, and all the digital technology in the world can't bring it to life. If you have a few hours to waste, go see Iron Man. It would have made a great 90-minute movie. Unfortunately, it's 126 minutes. Maybe they should have transistorized it.
And now, the pictures...