The Man in the Iron Mask

With the onset of allergy season, I’ve finally been persuaded that Durkon was right.

Anyway – so there was this Iron Man movie that just came out, and, like, it was really good.

But it very much got me thinking about the character. I mean, I’ve never really liked Iron Man. I’m not even talking about whatever nonsense is going on with his current situation and the entire Civil War storyline – I’ve simply never found the character interesting.

Discussing it with my friends, I claimed that he simply wasn’t an iconic superhero the way others were – and I know that term is something of a meaningless buzzword, but what I meant was that there was almost no identity to Iron Man himself. Tony Stark had character, sure – he had all manner of flaws, and thus plenty of opportunity for character development and progress and redemption.

But Iron Man was just… an armored suit. Just some guy with a fancy piece of technology – indistinguishable from any number of nameless soldiers in power armor. Tony Stark wearing the armor was no real different than Tony Stark without it, whereas other hero/secret identity relationships were complex and intriguing. Superman vs Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne vs Batman, Spiderman vs Peter Parker.

While there are also some that have no real seperation from their costumed selves, that is usually because their secret identities are almost meaningless behind their superhero nature. The X-Men are primarily defined by being mutants, sometimes on the run, sometimes fighting for their people – but Cyclops is Cyclops, and Scott Summers simply happens to be another name that character sometimes uses. B

But Iron Man is just a metal soldier. Iron Man isn’t Tony Stark – it is just a suit of armor Tony wears. And there is no real personality behind that mask, no new persona.

Or, at least, that is how I previously viewed things.

As mentioned before – the Iron Man movie was really, really good. It had fantastic acting, a great balance between character development and action scenes, and some damn fine humor worked into the mix. Great graphics, solid pacing, etc, etc.

And after seeing it, I came to realize that Iron Man was iconic, in certain ways. Was, in fact, almost the perfect superhero icon for the modern age. The businessman, the industrialist, the playboy – that is Tony Stark.

But the inventor? That’s Iron Man.

Iron Man is about imagination, and pushing the limits of technology. And, of course, about doing good  with that technology. It is not just about wearing some power armor, but wearing the absolute best power armor that the human mind can build. About doing so through trial and error, and eventually getting to feel the raw enjoyment of success, the thrill of flight, the sense of accomplishment.

Iron Man is the suit of armor – but also everything that went into making that. And realizing that suddenly made the character interesting and appealing.

I have to rate the Iron Man movie as the best superhero movie I’ve seen. Because making a movie about character I already like – that’s easy. But making one that takes a character I’m indifferent towards, and propels them into one of my favorite characters?

That’s a whole lot more impressive to pull off.

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2 responses

  1. I completely agree. Marvel pulled off a brilliantly perfect popcorn movie on their first go.

  2. “I have to rate the Iron Man movie as the best superhero movie I’ve seen. Because making a movie about character I already like – that’s easy. But making one that takes a character I’m indifferent towards, and propels them into one of my favorite characters?

    That’s a whole lot more impressive to pull off.”

    I think you hit the nail on the head for me with that comment right there. That’s exactly how I came away from it. Great movie.

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