Saturday, June 22, 2013

Iron Man 3 (Rhoades)

“Iron Man 3” Celebrates
His 50th Anniversary

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

I got an invitation from Danny Fingeroth, author of “Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us About Ourselves and Our Society.” A bunch of fanboys, geeks, and comic book creators were throwing a party headlined as “Iron Man (and The Avengers) at 50!”
Yep, Iron Man’s been flying around that long. He was created back in 1963 by Marvel’s Stan Lee, his brother Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack “The King” Kirby.
Having been the publisher of Marvel Comics back in the late ’90s, I hear from the old gang from time to time. Turns out, Danny was moderating a panel for the anniversary, a lineup that included Dennis O’Neil (longtime Iron Man writer), Keith DeCandido (editor of Iron Man prose novels), Marie Javins (author of the prose adaption of Iron Man: Extremis), and Stuart Moore (a writer of Iron Man comics), among others. Danny has written for Iron Man too.
Why all this excitement over a guy in a mechanical suit who isn’t real?
Because comic book superheroes are archetypes that tap into the hero we want to believe is within each of us. Iron Man, as I said in my textbook “Comic Books: How the Industry Works,” represents “The Last Man,” a weak-willed individual who seeks comfort and security. In the comics, Iron Man’s alter ego is Tony Stark, who was a rich playboy with a drinking problem. Until he invented a metal suit that allowed him to be a superhero.
So who better to cast in a blockbuster “Iron Man” movie than Robert Downey, Jr., himself a guy who overcame his substance abuse issues just like Tony Stark?
Yes, Robert Downey, Jr. was a much better choice than Nicholas Cage, the comic-book-collecting actor who lobbied us at Marvel for the role.
The “Iron Man” movie (2008) was a hit, grossing $585 million in worldwide box office. Its sequel “Iron Man 2” (2010) did even better, so far $624 million in worldwide sales.
This week “Iron Man 3” opened, as promised in my invitation to the superhero’s 50th anniversary party. Expect it to top the previous box office figures.
Again, Robert Downey, Jr. reprises his role as Iron Man/Tony Stark. This time around Iron Man takes on his nemesis The Mandarin after the supervillain destroys Stark’s palatial home using helicopter gunships.
Joining Iron Man is his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), his best pal Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheatle), and his head of security Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). We also meet Tony Stark’s old flame Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and crippled scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). And Tony Stark gets a sidekick, a precocious 10-year-old named Harley (Ty Simpkins).
In this storyline loosely based on the “Extremis” comic book arc written by Warren Ellis, The Mandarin kidnaps both the US President and Pepper Potts. That sets Iron Man’s circuits to sparking for vengeance.
This third installment in the “Iron Man” franchise (and the seventh installment in the now-called Marvel Cinematic Universe) is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema. It was directed by Shane Black (“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”), who took over the reins from Jon Favreau.
The folks at Marvel Studios  told Black, “We’ve done ‘The Avengers.’ We made a lot of money. But, let’s not do that again, right now. Let’s do something different.”
“They allowed for a different, stand-alone film,”  says Black, “where we got to be more character-centric and go back-to-basics with what Tony Stark would do next and what was left to tell of his story. To make it more of a thriller.”
And here it is. Happy 50th Anniversary, Iron Man.

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