Back in college a friend and I were discussing an issue of Swamp Thing, a comic series about a scientist who was turned into a tortured monster by exposure to fire, chemicals, and immersion in a swamp. The theme of the series was nothing important; only humanity and what makes us human. He was writing a paper about it and we were making a couple Xerox copies in the library.
The librarian overheard our conversation. He asked what we were working on, and he said; “Waste of time. An utter waste of time” and walked away shaking his head. I wondered if he would have said the same thing about Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, a similar, though smaller treatment of the theme of humanity.
Believe it or not, some comic books are not about themes of intelligence or humanity or identity or anything like that; some are just for fun. Mostly that describes the series Iron Man, though it does have its philosophical moments. The basic idea is that a self-absorbed genius billionaire inventor and arms manufacturer is captured by hostile forces, and escapes by building himself a high-tech suit of armor. Inspired, he returns home to build a much better suit of armor and becomes a superhero.
Occasionally really great movies result from turning comics into movies, and this was one of those times. The story has been updated from Vietnam to Afghanistan, but all the characters were done exactly right. Robert Downy, Jr. made a perfectly reckless and obnoxious Tony Stark; you really don’t mind him being beaten up by terrorists. But of course you don’t mind him returning and kicking their asses, either. And the final battle between Iron Man and his brute-force evil counterpart was pure Marvel Comics, exciting and improbable and funny (but don’t look for scientific accuracy if you want to enjoy it). If you have ever read and enjoyed an Iron Man comic book, you’ll probably like this movie.
The movie was in the new Wehrenberg Galaxy-14 super-mega-monsterplex theater out by Farm & Fleet. I must say that Wehrenberg theaters has done a better job of building theaters than GKC; we were able to enter and leave easily, the theater itself was small and comfortable and we were within good viewing distance of the screen, the sound was excellent and yet we could not hear other theaters, and all the facilities were, if a bit glitzy, very nice. We often go see movies at the beautiful art-deco Normal theater downtown and I had gotten to hate multiplexes. But I didn’t mind this one.
Is this a “guy” movie? Well sure, but MrsDoF went with me and we had a lot of fun. Afterward we went to Carl’s Ice Cream for burgers and onion rings and talked about the movie – a good date.