On Iron Man

I’ve just seen the movie of Iron Man, which is just as good as everyone told me it was.  Jon Favreau, the director, is an actor who did a wonderful job on a kids’ movie called Zathura.  And he’s brought some lovely qualities to this latest Marvel superhero pic – zest, coupled with rich levels of irony, combined with out-and-out slapstick humour.  Robert Downey Jr. just doesn’t seem to be taking it all that seriously – and yet, he is just as driven and obsessive as the next guy who happens to have a double life as a superhero.  It’s that wonderful balancing act between spoof and serious-but-funny which I adore.

The movie has a dark political undercurrent, as this comic book character series always did.  Tony Stark is dying of a heart attack, he becomes an alcoholic; and, the killer punch, he made his fortune selling weapons of mass destruction. And this last  element from the original comic books now seems even more shocking and terrible in the context of today’s screwed-up world. 

Gwyneth Paltrow gives excellent support as Tony’s female sidekick – there’s a wonderful scene where she has to insert the electromagnet that is keeping him alive into a  HUGE GREAT HOLE in his chest. 

And Tony Stark kicks the whole superhero ethos on its big fat backside in one delightful moment, which I won’t spoil. 

The movie was preceded by a trailer for a spoof superhero movie in which a Tobey Maguire lookalike has the powers of a dragonfly. But the joy of Marvel is that you can’t spoof them – the humour is already there. 

Stan Lee makes his customary appearance, as Hugh Hefner, unless my ears deceived me.  What a great life that guy is having. He’s now surely one of the most powerful men in Hollywood (after sueing the studios to ensure he got his fair share of the gross – no one ever called Stan a sucker.) 

The Hulk is the next one out of the blocks – after the (for me) staggeringly disappointing Ang Lee version, it’ll be nice to see how Ed Norton shapes up.  I still yearn for a movie about the Hulk series (scripted by Peter David? who has an encyclopedic knowledge of these things?) in which the Hulk works as a Mob enforcer in Las Vegas, squeezed into a pin-striped suit.   

I saw this on the same night as the new Indiana Jones movie, which I also enjoyed, though a little less.  The queues for these movies, plus Sex and the City, were amazing.  And it’s a joy to see how many people enjoy their movies these days.

And yet…

It would be nice to see a couple of highly commerical movies that AREN’T based on old comic books or TV series.  Get Smart is coming soon – which I remember fondly, but was probably crap.  Hollywood is generating great movies; but they are getting timid.

A possible exception to this rule may be the movie of Wanted, based on Mark Millar’s daring and iconoclastic graphic novel of the same name.  I just hope they haven’t de-fanged it, or toned down its scatalogical and hilarious humour.

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