This weekend, Iron Man opened up the box office with over $100 millions dollars in revenue, an indescribable amount of money for something I’ve never cared about more forcefully before in my life. The only thing positive to be said about this development is the fact that it prevented Made of Honor from opening up at number one, the mere existence of which is startling enough to me since I doubt very much it passed California’s strict emissions standards.
I’ve always been lukewarm towards comic books, and ever more so about movies based on comic books. My interest in comic books was pretty much limited into figuring out if paying $3.99 today for some confusingly-paced pseudo-philosophical half-baked storyline was going to be worth significantly more money in the near future as long as I shoved it in a non-acidic case and hid it in a crate in the attic to forget about for about three decades.
Comic book stories—at least the ones that sell—are primarily about superpowers, and each has to cook up either some absurdly original plot device to make it stand out or, if that seems a touch too hard, just make the superhero a scantily clad chick. I mean, seriously, the prevailing hero seems to be largely guys who got bit by lethargic roaches or are the reincarnated spirit of a moon jockey, or some scissor sister who is wearing as much spandex as she doesn’t have modesty. Add a healthy dose of childish hoogidy-boogidy and some scenes of incredibly graphic violence featuring green alien blood instead of the more standard red so it passes the strict Comic Book Code Of Making Sure The Comic Book Industry Never Seriously Competes With Any Other Form Of Modern Entertainment, and prepubescent teenagers and a rather alarming number of twenty and thirty years olds will lap it up.
Of course, I’m pretty much biased against anything that makes me work, and comic book stories make me work. If I am not already familiar with the background and concept of a superhero, I don’t want any part of it. I don’t want to have to go back and do homework about what kind of crime they fight or why they turned to superheroing as a career track just to enjoy it, even if that homework is digging out thirty year’s worth of overdramatic soap operas dressed up in macho costumes and laser beams so everybody seems a lot less gay than they otherwise would.
As far as I’m concerned, the alpha and omega of my comic book superhero world involves the following:
Superman: Invincible, afraid of kryptonite, deflects suspicion by being the exact opposite of the definition of a superhero: a journalist.
Batman: Creepy guy that lives in a cave, drives a kickass car. Also: Mr. Mom.
Wonder Woman: Hasn’t had a period since 1967.
Green Lantern: I know absolutely nothing about the Green Lantern, but I know for certain he’s eventually going to be co-opted by the environmentalists and help fight villains such as the Merck Corporation.
Captain America: Closet commie
Spiderman: spins web, suspiciously agile, dates someone who is in reality the abstract personification of marijuana as long don’t tell your parents about it.
The X-Men: Nothing much more different than what I’ve seen on Bourbon street at two in the afternoon.
Power Girl: An awesome set of DDs.
(Just to save everyone the time, don’t bother writing and telling me how much of the above information I’ve got wrong. I can bet safe money that there are scores of fans out there wringing their hands and foaming at the mouth, stating loudly to no one in particular, “Spider-Man should be properly spelled with a hyphen!” While I respect the integral facets of decade’s worth of creative effort, I can’t in all honesty…care.)
So enters Iron Man, a superhero I knew next to nothing about prior to the release of the film. And what I did know what pretty much the fact that I am aware of the fact that the words “iron” and “man” are common words but are rarely used in conjunction with each other. Knowing that Robert Downey, Jr. portrays him in the film, it added a touch of preconceived notions about his character. This just won’t do, of course, so despite my better judgment I looked up the story behind Iron Man, and from what I can tell the following sums it up:
-Anthony Stark who, in reality, is a wealthy industrialist who rather than manage his immense personal fortune goes out to fight crime in a big iron suit.
-His iron suit is really an allegory of Cold War weapons and the immense amount of responsibility that comes with wielding so much destructive power. Or an allegory about the role of technology and how it affects an individual’s identity. Or an allegory about the manifestation of bourgeoisie culture in modern times or some complete horseshit like that.
-He spends most of his time protecting his copyright status by disabling other villains who use his iron man suit without express written permission and paying standard royalty rates.
-Despite popular conception, he has not lost his mind, he is not blind, he can walk, and he is alive. These were never really in question.
-Is bipolar, regularly drives around Sunset Boulevard naked, and ingests ten kilos of pure cocaine a day (movie version only)
I’ll probably eventually see it, if not for only the fact that this is the sort of thing everyone eventually watches anyway. For me, I’m waiting for the most sought-after super power of all: Original Idea Coming Out Of Hollywood Man. Hmm. Maybe I should just ask for an iron suit that shoots laser beams instead. That seems more likely.