on May 6, 2008
I rarely see movies in the theater because it’s expensive and inconvenient compared to just renting. So I go to see a movie in a theater about once a year. This year it was to see Iron Man, and it was worth it. (Last year I went to see Transformers, and it wasn’t.)
I don’t usually talk about movies here because I have so little to add beyond the binary “I liked it” / “I hated it” sort of thing, and it’s pretty hard to expand that into a full post. I can do armchair tabletop game design, and I’ll analyze the everloving crap out of any videogame you put within arm’s reach, but I am simply a consumer of movies with no illusions of knowing what I’m talking about beyond my own preferences. But Iron Man was so enjoyable that I thought it deserved a few words…
I’m not really sure how the hardcore fans of Iron Man will receive the movie. I’ve never had more than a passing interest in the character, mostly as he crossed over into stories I do follow. I don’t know if they were true to the original characters or followed the established story. I will say that they met the most important goal of making an entertaining flick. We’re getting a lot of superhero movies these days, but about half of them (Hulk, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man 3) end up infuriating fans with their deviations from established canon while at the same time boring the general moviegoer senseless. I don’t know if superhero stories are harder to produce than other kinds of action movies, or if they are just such sure moneymakers that they don’t make the effort, but I’d love it if they could get the hit-to-miss ratio better than 1 in 2.
One thing I’ve noticed about superhero movies is that the worst ones seem to rush through the origin story. They introduce the powers early so we can hurry up and get on with our action movie. But doing this generally means skipping the most crucial parts of character development so they can work in more fighting, and we end up with a boring guy doing exciting stuff. Zero times a million is still zero, and the result ends up being insufferably dull. Iron Man takes its time with the origin, and the payoff is that Tony Stark is an interesting fellow.
One thing I will suggest is that if you see the movie, stay to the end of the credits because at the very end Samuel L. Jackson appears as Nick Fury. The theater was still half full by the time that happened, and there was a lot of applause when that came on screen.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.