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Friday, May 17, 2013

Comic Book Iron Man Vs. Movie Iron Man in the Most One-Sided Fight Ever

(Having a blog devoted to my artist brand didn't work out, so I'm going back to what works; this blog, and writing about things bigger than me)




Overall, the comic version of Iron Man is one of the few superheroes who represents an adult morality, as opposed to an adolescent or even childish one. Tony is a complex man with enough power and influence that everything he does or doesn't do has massive ramifications, and he's fully aware of that fact. His goals are much greater than simply saving the world from villains, so his enemies tend to come across as petty characters despite their destructive capabilities, who are threatened by the fact that Tony can be fiscally successful without Ayn Rand-style opportunism. Even then he's often forced to make hard decisions and do morally ambiguous things, because he's responsible for so many people-- not just in the present, but in the future. Tony Stark's personal problems tend to similarly represent more complex emotional territory than most superheroes, since his fight to lead mankind away from their bad habits towards better choices is represented in his own struggles with addiction (be it alcohol, women, or even just the desire to control everything).

The movie version of Iron Man is less abstract because he's a much simpler and shallower character. He is an overgrown teenager whose activities all stem from what he wants, with the only cases of him actually doing anything altruistic are ultimately self-serving, such as the Stark Expo (which shows no actual inventions, just a vanity project with a lot of sound and fury), or the compulsive armor building (which is just a means of managing his own insecurities with just as much potential for ill as good). Note how all the times Tony actually goes into combat in the movie, it's either a matter of self-defense or vengeance (even in the first movie, he only goes after the terrorists in Yinsen's village). This might be interesting if he were not portrayed as the hero, but instead he's immediately forgiven for his sins because the films demand happy endings. 

If the comic is being rejected, it's being rejected in favor of a sugary Hollywood iteration who can easily overcome his problems to suit the three-act screenplay structure, so that they don't get in the way of the power fantasy that can't hold up to a world of abstractions.

4 comments:

  1. Ironically, the most selfless story with MCU Tony is the Avengers film, where he had no personal stake in the conflict when he entered it. (True, Loki targeted Stark Tower, but only after Stark had entered the picture. If Tony hadn't decided to show up in Berlin, the Chitari would still have been summoned to NYC, but not on top on Tony's property.)

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  2. and Tony was using Stark Tower as a testbed for his clean energy technologies, not a egotistical wank-fest like the Stark Expo. Then again, that movie was directed by Joss Whedon, so characters behaving in more nuanced ways is expected.

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  3. Wilson I believe a plot point of the Avengers was that Loki needed the power from the Arc reactor to start the device to open the portal. I could be wrong but I think they were drawing power from the tower before Tony shows up.

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