Harry says there isn't a spot of rust on this IRON MAN!!!
How much awesome was tonight’s screening of IRON MAN at the Alamo Drafthouse South with Jet Pack Man? It was like freebasing pop tarts. Ridiculously Fucking Awesome Fun.
At 1:42pm – I called Tim League to ask when Jet Pack Man was going to be doing his test flight. Tim responded flatly and to the point with, “25 minutes!”
Approximately 35 seconds later Father Geek and I were peeling out of the drive-way on a frantic high speed run to see a man fly. You see… Jet Pack Man can fly for approximately just 33 seconds. That doesn’t sound long… and when you see it… it feels like a fucking blink as your mind tries to absorb it. But the idea of seeing a man fly… under the power of Hydrogen Peroxide… it was driving my every thought. Gone was the thought of Diabetes, House Construction and all my various liberal concerns… this was a flying man – using technology that James Bond used. I NEEDED TO SEE THIS!
We arrived in the parking lot at exactly 2pm. I was afraid it already happened… but lucky for me… Jet Pack Man was having problems with his Iron Man costume – and was about 20 minutes late. So I got a bit of sun. Vitamin D is your friend.
When he came out… the costume looked like the funniest FANBOY last minute stitched together costume made for a convention… Not SAN DIEGO COMIC CON… I’m talking about one of those Howard Johnson Conventions… the sort of costume that the second you see it… you begin giggling. And then when you see the drooping ass – it goes to actual laughter and head shaking.
Then… then he begins prepping the Jet Pack. Smoke begins appearing out the tubes… Then he begins strapping himself in… Suddenly… he is no longer a sad fanboy in a TAPED TOGETHER costume. No. Now he has a real functioning flight capable device. Suddenly the costume… when married to the actual Jet Pack represented… A MAN DRESSED AS IRON MAN THAT WAS ABOUT TO ACTUALLY FUCKING FLY!
Think about that. It’s ludicrous. It’s crazy. Technology that was developed for the Military in the Fifties & Sixties was today used to fly a man in custom made IRON MAN pajamas for a crowd of around 4-500. Children clutched their parents in awe… the image of a man flying as IRON MAN being burned into their minds – clouding the fragile line between reality and fantasy… I LOVE THAT!
After the awesome pre-show – came the second pre-show. The Alamo Drafthouse’s pre-show made up of classic Marvel Super Heroes IRON MAN vs. The Mandarin cartoons from the late sixties… Black Sabbath’s 70’s music video trippy as hell IRON MAN anthem… and folks – you could feel the energy in the room. Geeks buzzing with the fire to see a GREAT MARVEL FILM. The word on this film is spectacular. But when you see raves from THE NEW YORK TIMES and ROLLING STONE… can you really trust them? Sure – they know a good movie, but do they know a great IRON MAN movie?
That’s the key. In recent years we see parts of great superhero films – and then there’s about 30% or sometimes as much as 75% that isn’t quite up to snuff. But you hope there’s a learning curve. That the industry is beginning to understand comic books… but then there’s IRON MAN.
This is the very first time in film history that a Comic Book movie wasn’t made by a Hollywood Studio, but by a Comic Publisher that decided to make movies on their own properties. MARVEL COMICS made IRON MAN. Paramount has done a fantastic job selling the movie, but MARVEL COMICS developed it, paid for it and made the film.
They have made the very first 100% uncompromised perfect SUPERHERO movie.
The origin is updated, but forcefully so. It’s funny, but it never has a moment that doesn’t respect the material. It is IRON MAN.
How did this happen?
Simple – MARVEL just made the exact right decisions. They nailed the perfect director to do IRON MAN… Jon Favreau. Why was Jon perfect?
First, his sensibilities. Jon understands the chauvinistic alcoholic male & the classic PLAYBOY’s Gentleman sensibilities upon which Tony Stark belonged. We know that Tony is Howard Hughes – only way cooler. But was there any doubt that Favreau was going to make Tony Stark so money? Not for a second.
Then there’s the fact that Jon did the smartest thing imaginable. He cast a brilliantly dead on perfect actor to be TONY STARK. Robert Downey Jr has been one of film geek’s and critic’s favorite actors – but for years he’s had demons in bottles plaguing his off screen life. We all know these things – because the media world we live in shoves that crap down our throats with reckless abandon… but we also know that Robert has conquered those demons… screwed the cap back on that bottle and super-glued it shut and buried it somewhere.
And why was Downey perfect? Because since we knew that Marvel would never have the guts to have a womanizing lush as a superhero… it was ok… cuz just seeing Downey in the role – that would be the baggage that the audience would know about him. A shorthand in developing the character.
BUT WAIT A FUCKING SECOND!
Tony Stark is a womanizing Scotch swiller. He’s always got a drink in his hand, he’s a fully functional sensation junkie. Hot women, great scotch, fast cars, things that go boom better than anyone has made them go boom… and his own crash test dummy. Tony Stark is the single greatest translation from comic to screen. NOTE FUCKING PERFECT.
Not only that – he is in a Marvel Universe. SHIELD is here. Stane is here. The Mandarin is here. Pepper Potts is here, Happy Hogan is here and yes… Rhodes is here. It’s all there. All of it.
Even a fan-fucking-tastic nod to War Machine. A moment that will pop a geek’s boner even if it’s a clit.
So let’s get into it… What works?
Flatly – everything. Updating IRON MAN’s origins from Vietnam to Afghanistan… frankly it is perfect. Yinsen is wonderful. Shaun Toub just captured me. I didn’t miss the bamboo – and the 10 Rings organization was realized perfectly. The caves lent an atmosphere to the early proceedings. The creation of the Mark 1 armor and Tony’s relationship with Yensin were exquisite. As was the early flashback after Tony’s capture to set up pre-injured Stark. He wasn’t evil, he was naïve. He believed his own press. He believed he was providing weapons to make a safer America – not realizing that those weapons were being used around the world… and that his name… his father’s name… was being used to deliver death and maiming to the very men he thought he was innovating to protect. The realization changes the man completely. The torture, the near-death experience and his friend, Yensin – set him on a journey to be more than a playboy, more than a Merchant of Death. He seeks to be a hero – and who is he saving? His own soul. It’s classic stuff.
The film is tonally very much classic Iron Man. That sense of suave, the humor and the action… peppered with a romantic pinch that never gets in the way. Ms Paltrow is great as Pepper. She’s in on all of Tony’s secrets, she has intense feelings for Tony – but she also knows who he is. She’s let out the one night stands – and seen them off – all while he plays with his “toys” – he’s a big irresponsible boy – and in a way – she’s mother – all the while hoping that Tony grows up, but doesn’t want him hurt along the way.
Jeff Bridges is fantastic as Obadiah Stane. Just a great two faced sonuvabitch. Charming and a snake. He’s the reason that Tony has had the luxury to be the spoiled shit that he is. While Tony’s genius fuels all of Stark Industries, Stane is the Cardinal Richelieu behind it all. He’s the man pulling the strings. The man perverting the genius and exploiting it create an unstoppable cycle of worldwide violence that funds this empire.
Now – the key thing for an Iron Man movie… the number one question to be answered. How cool is the tech in the film?
It is all a joy. Even Paul Bettany’s voice of Jarvis works.
In the acting realm – there’s only one slight problem that I have. And I totally get why it is the way it is. It involves the character of Happy Hogan as played by Jon himself. I loved Hogan’s character in the old silver age books. I loved how he and Pepper flirted… and how Pepper only had eyes for Tony. I miss Hogan being Tony’s best friend – and yeah – I know that role is being filled by Terrence Howard’s Jim Rhodes… and sure that’s what modern IRON MAN fans want to see… but I just wanted more to that character. Who knows – that might have been the case – and as director – Jon cut his own character first, rather than lose scenes from others. Whatever the case… I wish that character was fleshed out.
The only other gripe I have is this… I wish the score had been epic. Instead it came off as Zimmer derivative action score stuff – Of course… IRON MAN is only IRON MAN at the end of the film – and when that name sticks – the second it is the accepted moniker – we hear the true theme – the theme we want – and the theme you want expanded in the next film – and yes… you’ll want the next film. You’ll want it immediately.
This film is hugely satisfying. Geeks hung around the front of the theater beaming about the movie non-stop. A large group of us hit a bar afterwards for booze like our hero had. We watched the Laker game and the IRON MAN spots – and relished our memories of this immensely entertaining film.
Marvel has just announced itself with this film. However, they have to be careful. To create their brand – and not squander it, they have to keep being smart with their writers, directors and properties. THOR is a homerun, if they can find a THOR. The script is the best hero comic script to date. I think some of us are really rooting for THE INCREDIBLE HULK later this summer. But one thing is for sure…
It’s official, Summer 2008 is here – and it is here to kick our ass with a beautiful iron boot.