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[personal profile] strange_aeons
The Incredible Hulk opened today, so I did the obvious thing and went to see Iron Man again. There are problems with this film. It is still awesome; I begin to suspect, on the basis of the acting, that it has supplanted Spider-Man as the best of the recent crop of comic book films, and while X-Men will probably always be my favorite (as distinguished from the best), this one is a close second.

I thoroughly enjoy the sequence near the beginning that employs horror film tropes to convey the shock- and horror-factors of the Mk. 1.

There's a moment right after the Iron Monger comes up through the asphalt outside Stark Industries that takes me right out of the film: Stane growls. It's totally effective, very savage, and it gives me a full-brain WTF, because putting on the Iron Monger armor isn't like turning into a wolf under the full moon. Stane is beside himself with power and rage, but he is a calculated, measured man and I don't buy him going all HULK SMASH just because he is now empowered to actually SMASH. Then Stane starts talking, and I realize that what I interpreted as a growl was just one of those noises Jeff Bridges makes all the time, as heard through the voice distortion that comes standard on all evil mecha. I don't know whether this is good or bad. On the one hand, both times I saw it -- and the second time, I was expecting it -- because of this moment, I spent half a second thinking someone, somewhere in the pipeline, had made a really poor characterization decision for the sake of a scary noise; on the other hand, it absolutely works as a scary noise, and I think it neatly underlines the difference in type and degree between polished Stane and the Iron Monger, and how alarming it must be for something like that to, you know, come at you out of the fucking blacktop.

When I say 'polished Stane' I mean it. For about a second and a half, he is the only person who has ever looked cool on a Segway. (Foreshadowing?) I would recommend this film for that novelty alone. Bridges does a really stellar job even when he's not on the Segway, and e.g. Stane yelling at the tech about the arc reactor is beautifully done, one of my favorite moments.

Speaking of the arc reactor, there's been some debate (I think in [ profile] james_nicoll's and [ profile] xiphias' journals -- and elsewhere, I'm sure, but that's where I read it) about Tony knocking together a tiny, not that expensive generator that could power everything, heatlessly, forever, and not immediately putting it into mass production, and whether this is, you know, superheroically acceptable. Hoarding the tech doesn't actually seem to be Stane's fault. Tony explicitly refuses to allow Stane's techs to look at it, and this is before he knows Stane's purposes are nefarious; earlier Stane pooh-poohs the full-sized reactor, but he seems to have nothing against the small one. Ethical implications aside, this is bad business. Silly bad. Gee, you're worried about your stock prices? How about becoming the number one energy supplier in the world? Would that help?

I've read very little about this film, and in most of it people refer to the Ten Rings as terrorists. They didn't seem to me to be terrorists the first time around, and they didn't seem to be terrorists this time around either. They're warlords. Baldy strongly implies an interest in ruling all of Asia. The Ten Rings are depicted terrorizing a village in the sense that they are scaring the shit out of the inhabitants, but their purpose is to round the people up and store ordnance in their houses; scaring the shit out of them is just a side effect, perhaps fringe benefit. There are people on Mars (in caves, with their eyes closed and their fingers in their ears) whose usage of terrorism has been deformed by the last seven years; the effect on me seems to have been a (probably contrarian) narrowing of my definition of the term, to include only ideology-driven acts for which the potential gain is only political or maybe financial. These guys want rulership and the implication is that they have no one ideology; that's different.

Is Robert Downey, Jr. always this nice to look at with not much clothing on or is this just because he's a superhero now? He has been largely clothed in everything else I've seen him in; the last thing was A Scanner Darkly, in which he plays a weaselly little fucker with zero physical presence who, ironically, is a cartoon, so a comparison is difficult. He is obviously in excellent shape, but he doesn't have the movie-perfect body younger superheroes played by younger people have had, and while I am basically not attracted to him, the effect is about a thousand times more like something I might want to touch. Also, the arc reactor in the chest is hot. It is. Cyborgs are sexy.

While I'm talking about the actors, this is the least tedious Gwyneth Paltrow has ever been, and certainly the best girlfriend role in any recent superhero film. Yes, Marvel, DC, it is possible for a girl who isn't wearing any spandex or leather to interact directly with the A plot in some capacity other than as a hostage. Does Paltrow always have freckles?

The undersuit has tabi feet. That is ... so, so cute.

The first time I saw this movie, when I saw Adi Granov's name in the credits I thrust my forefinger at the screen and declaimed, "A-ha!" I almost did it the second time, automatically, but I was with a friend who hasn't read a comic book in probably thirty years and doesn't care. The Mk. 2 is based fairly faithfully on Granov's armor designs, and I was thrilled when I learned of this (by means of a blurry photograph of an early poster, I seem to recall) because Granov is my favorite Iron Man artist, period. Sorry, Hitch. His art is not optimal for every application; there are frames in Extremis that don't work, they're too precisely rendered and the effect is inappropriately static. But by god, can he draw armor; and there is an intense humanness in the faces of his characters sometimes that makes it astonishing when, for example, the villain in Extremis kills a minor character. My god, why did he put so much into her face if she was just going to die in a couple of pages? Because it was there to be put in. In other news, he may have influenced some of the character design in the excrable Fantastic Four films also. I don't hold this against him. See more Granov here. I should start reading The Inhumans.

I love Ultimate Nick Fury with a passion and could not be more excited about the intimations of an Avengers film. Frankly, I'd pay to watch two hours of nothing but Sam Jackson barking orders at Tony and Cap. There doesn't even have to be a plot. I don't care if Hugh Jackman is in it. Just don't use the Under New Management Only Hitch Draws It arc, for the love of God. We've had more than enough of that now.

On the way out of the theater we passed a standing advertisement for another Downey film in which he is billed as 'Downey Jr.' and because I've been deeply immersed in the linguistiblagosphere recently this is fascinating to me. In my dialect, obviously, the Jr. is not part of his surname anymore than a Ph.D. would be (or is. I know essentially nothing about him), and does not fit next to the bare surnames of two other actors. Anyone have a dialect that disagrees with mine?

Tomorrow: Hulk. The run-up to this film has been surreal. I'm two or three Bacon degrees removed from Tim Roth, depending on how you count, in a way that occasionally results in me being forwarded little bottom-quoted notes from him with Deodato sketches attached. Above that is my father's girlfriend's friend's (I believe that's how it goes) clueless note about how my father might be interested, and above that is my father's keyboard-pounding fangasm, because he and I are very alike.

Date: 2008-06-14 11:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
...about Tony knocking together a tiny, not that expensive generator that could power everything, heatlessly, forever, and not immediately putting it into mass production...

TVTropes strikes again! Actually, this very example is discussed on that page. Hmm.

Date: 2008-06-14 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I like the specialized jargon way TVTropes uses aversion. That entertains me.

This has already been said in the journals I linked above (a month ago, when the film actually came out ...), but there's a tremendous amount of everyday-relevant widely-available Stark tech on the market in the Ultimate universe, and the films, especially this film, have been influenced so heavily by the Ultimate universe (Jackson! As! Nick! Fury!) that I fully expect to see some of that in the Iron Man sequel and/or the Avengers film. At the beginning of the Ultimate universe that brilliant douchebag Millar was writing nearly the entire thing, and this seems to me like he lifted it from The Authority, which he had a run on; the Authority are the antithesis of the superhero group that never enacts meaningful change on the setting.

Oh dear, I just remembered that Wanda and Pietro seem to be doin' it.