Thursday, May 01, 2008

I Am Iron Man

Galley Friend B.W. sends along this WaPost piece on Iron Man. It's as much about the property as it is the movie. A couple thoughts:

The reporter makes the case that Iron Man is a second-tier hero, closer to Thor than Spider-Man. I'm not sure I buy that. In recent years, Iron Man has assumed a larger and larger role in the Marvel universe; being one of the two main protagonists in Civil War, being the center (we think) of Secret Invasion; being the center of the very popular Ultimates and having his own very well regarded Ultimate Iron Man. If anything, I'd argue that Iron Man has become Marvel's ubiquitous hero, sort of their Batman and Superman rolled into one.

I'm not quite sure why this is. In part, I think it's because the internet and nanotechnology have, as plot devices, radically transformed the character's powers in the comics. Iron Man can now have whatever powers or abilities a writer needs him to have in any given situation. This makes him easier to write and quite useful as a plot center. But I'd also argue that it makes him a little boring. Heroes need well-defined limits of their abilities in order to maintain dramatic tension.

(Of course, maybe this was all long-range planning on Marvel's part to puff the character up leading to the debut of their first solo movie effort as a studio?)

8 comments:

Toto said...

Iron Man was my fave here as a lad, but I agree about his second-tier status. I keep talking to people about "Iron Man" the movie and they don't know the source material - or what the heck an Iron Man is. That never happens with Spidey or Superman

James said...

I'd note, too, that several second tier -- and lower -- Marvel characters have had television shows. Both Thor and Submariner -- Submariner! -- were the star of cartoons in the late 1960s, early 1970s that I watched in reruns much later. Hulk was the star of a live-action television series in the late 1970s. And, heck, Ghost Rider has already had his own movie. Surely, Iron Man -- a staple since the early days of the Stan Lee era -- is more important in the pantheon than Ghost Rider?

DBrooks17 said...

Just to make a point, I had no idea until reading this post that Iron Man was a comic book character. I thought this was a new creation just for the movie. Knowing the character has a background, and a comic book one at that, makes me much less excited about seeing the movie.

Ralphie said...

I'm not too familiar with the character, but I'm fairly sure that he does whatever an iron can.

Jacob said...

dbrooks17–
You should still see the movie– it was pretty great. (I've never read the Iron Man comics... or really any comics).

jjv said...

I think the Incredible Hulk is in the first tier. I think Ghost Rider was a vanity project. The test ought to be, if you do not read comics do you know who the guy is? Only about 7 super heroes pass this test: Superman, Batman, Spiderman, The Hulk, The Flash, Captain America, Wonder Woman.

At one time (in the 40's, 50's and 60's Captain Marvel might have passed this test. Green Lantern, Aquaman and Wolverine are very close.

Akhnad said...

Is rip off of chraceter Iran Man.

patrick said...

Iron Man was practically flawless as a super hero flick; it drops pretty obvious hints that would indicate a sequel as well... i'm thinking the next one should be equally great