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Iron Man 2

October 15, 2010

Yeah, I know I had several years to watch the first Iron Man movie, and it never happened.  By that time, the Batman franchise had made a comeback, there were like, three X-men movies kicking around, Spiderman  just wouldn't give it a rest, and these are all super heroes that I've heard of.  To me, Iron Man was just some other random idiot jumping on the super hero ship before it sailed.  So maybe if I had had nothing better to do for the last two years, I could have watched Iron Man One, and it would have improved the Iron Man Two experience.  I very much doubt it, but it's possible.

First of all, I didn't get the impression that I had missed anything relevant when I started this movie.  Superhero wears a high tech superhero suit, with the formidable consequence that the human to hero-suit USB port is giving him cancer or something.  Fair enough.  Throw in a villain (preferably an evil Russian stereotype! Check.) and you're ready to go.  I'm of the impression that, unless a sequel is the continuation of a "to be continued…" you shouldn't have to have seen the first one to enjoy the second.  The second still has to feature all the elements of a story: character building, world building, conflict establishing and resolving.  You don't get a free pass on any of these things just because you made a movie before with the same guy.  You have to do these things in a different way from the first, but you still have to do them.  Anyway, that's not the point.  Because IM2 did this just fine.  The problem was that Tony Stark just sucked.  I mean, he really sucked.  I get that he sucks on purpose, and that's part of his character, but you're still supposed to kind of like him anyway, but I didn't.  He reads like a text book sociopath, and this is where the whole sequel thing started to work against him.  Because if he's a sociopath in the beginning of the second movie, that means he indulged in the same behavior pattern for the entirety of the first film, which leaves me really wondering what sort of character arc that created for him.  But not wondering so much that I'm going to go watch it.

Now, I don't have a problem with sociopath characters.  What threw me off with Tony Stark was that I don't think his writers fully realized what they had done, so they didn't address it in any way.  Of course, it's far more likely that I don't realize what they did, because I only watched the first twenty minutes of the second movie, but that's never stopped me from damning anything before.  Tony Stark is introduced as a grandstanding thrill seeker.  His flashy entrance to his own Iron Man festival is meant to stand in contrast to the Secret Identity School of Heroism.  Fine.  He's charismatic, he's the media golden boy, he's got an answer for everything, and he makes those guys who think that absolute power corrupts absolutely look like a bunch of chumps.  So what if he's got a monopoly on unbeatable weapons of mass destruction?  He's a benevolent ruler.  Let it not be said that Iron Man rules with an Iron Fist.  Okay, whatever.  I'm even willing to roll with that.  He's obviously an egomaniac, but he did save the world or something in the first movie, so I'm assuming he has some redeeming qualities, and any second Favreau is going to present me with a reason to be sympathetic to this character.  We go to Stark's laboratory and find out he has Iron Man poisoning, and it's terminal.  Yawn.  Life is terminal.  Right now I have more sympathy for Evil Russian, Fueled by Rage, because he's freezing his ass off in the arctic north.  And I don't know who that dead dude was, but he was apparently Evil Russian's only friend, and he's pretty broken up about it.  He lives in a shanty that, going by the state of his hygiene, doesn't have any running water, and he's building an Evil Revenge Suit from scratch, with materials he had to buy off the black market, probably by pawning his dead friend's internal organs.  Meanwhile Tony Stark is sitting in his state of the art laboratory with his talking computer, ignoring the woman who keeps his company running and funding the goddamn lab, because she's upset that he's blowing through all the money she's making, and then selling off her art collection because it wasn't that important to him, and if it's not important to Tony Stark then he doesn't really give a shit, and he'd just as soon pawn your mother if it means he can buy more of the fancy champagne he uses to shut up women who erroneously believe that they shouldn't have to take his shit.  I mean, Tony Stark saved the goddamn world, he can do what he wants.

Right, like I was saying, this is the second movie?  Whatever the events of the first, they obviously failed to build any integrity in this character, which leads me to believe that integrity in this character is unbuildable.  And I'm supposed to like this guy?  I get that he's supposed to be infuriating.  I get that the news of his imminent demise led to an upsurge in thrill seeking behavior, though that this guy built a flying superhero suit in the first place indicates a pretty high level of thrill seeking anyway.  But it's, I don't know, a half hour into this film, and the hero has yet to exhibit one single redeeming quality?  He's entirely self centered, shows no inclination to be anything but, his personality is as malleable as it needs to be to charm the media, he repeatedly refers to women as objects, shows every indication of viewing everyone on earth in the same same way, but I'm supposed to look past all this and see…what, exactly?  His troubled soul?  His generous spirit?  I'll tell you what I did look past: the rest of the movie.  I skipped to the end, where he has saved the world yet again, overcome many dangers, toils, and snares, and emerged…a total asshole.  Yes, I know it's intentional!  Some people are assholes.  That doesn't mean we can't like them as people.  All I'm wondering is, after two full length films, what is there to like about this guy?  You know who's also an asshole?  Bruce Wayne.  You know who's also a bit far up himself?  Peter Parker.  Yet these characters manage to be sympathetic because they're conflicted over various things, like normal people.  They're conflicted over the morality of their choices.  They're conflicted over the difficulties of their double lives.  Tony Stark is conflicted over his own mortality, which is a non issue by the end of the movie, so apparently he didn't learn anything from it.  Therefore I conclude that he sucks.  Also, his climactic showdown with Evil Russian sucked too.  I saw the way he was defeated, and it was stupid.  The End.

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