Man in the iron mask…

Saw Iron Man last night at midnight. I discovered that this is really a bad time for me to be going to movies at midnight.

That said, Iron Man was a very good film. The movie was an incredibly fun retelling of the standard Iron Man story (origin + a fight). It took itself seriously enough to not make you want to scream but was also able to be goofy without undermining the plot. The cast was great. Honestly nothing to complain about except nit-picking (like I could have done with less Pepper is in danger! Oh noes! They should have given her a bigger, more active role).

The whole James Bond as Bill Gates with a subscription to Heavy Metal worked well.

A couple of thoughts stood out.

1.) Iron Man really is just well meaning liberal American foreign policy. “Oh man, I’m going to create sweet weapons to defend my country!” “Oh noes! The terrorists got my sweet weapons and are killing innocents!” “Now I must create newer, fancier weapons to save everyone!” Bless you, Tony Stark. Bless you!

2.) I was amazed (and impressed) that with a character like Tony Stark, the filmmakers didn’t play up the whole horn dog aspect to his character. There were only maybe two scenes that explicitly played this up (including one very tame sex scene) and beyond that Tony’s sexually attitudes are played mostly for laughs and to show how pathetic he is. It was refreshing it was to see that sort of take on Stark-as-a-player in what is essentially the ultimate male wish fulfillment movie. Now if only they’d given Pepper more to do!

By the way, the “secret” end of this movie spoils the “secret” ending of the new Hulk movie.

UPDATE: Occasional Superheroine really sums it up:

What frustrates me about movies like “Iron Man” — despite the fact that I did enjoy it on many levels — is that there is no real female role-model for me to latch on to. Certainly I think Pepper Potts is an improvement on such cinematic comic book heroines as Mary Jane and Vicki Vale (and whoever the hell Katie Holmes played in “Batman Begins”). But, she is, in the end, an assistant — an “invaluable helpmeet” to be sure, but in the end just a glorified Miss Moneypenny.

Again this is nit-picky (though importantly so). But it would be nice if in the future such movies gave their female supporting characters (often leads suffer from this too! Paging Mary-Jane… paging Mary-Jane!)  something to do. Besides look pretty, be in danger, and push buttons.


8 Comments on “Man in the iron mask…”

  1. Tito says:

    To be fair, Katie Holmes tased Scarecrow in the face. Her uselessness was less a result of her character and more a result of the fact that she’s Katie Holmes.

    Now I’ve got to go convince my brother to go see this with me… despite the fact I think he still has a bitter taste of Tony Stark in his mouth leftover from Civil War.

  2. I believe tasering someone in the face is the same as “button pushing” but I won’t argue…

    You can tell your brother that movie Stark is the distilled version of pre-Civil War Iron Man.

  3. Brett says:

    Were we watching the same movie? Spoliders follow for the sake of argument:

    By my count Pepper saves Tony 3 different times as well as playing an instrumental role in defeating Iron Monger, all the while NOT getting kidnapped or doing the patented female-in-danger close-up scream. Her female sentimentality (if you can really even call it that as it was portrayed pretty well in-character) is also the only reason the final battle is even possible as she didn’t destroy the old mini-arc like Tony told her to and instead made it into the “Proof Tony Stark Has a Heart” thing. I’m not sure how much more progressive they could have made her character given that she had no super powers and (story-wise) was NOT really a leading character (even though she did have the lead female role). Just my 2 cents.

  4. I think your points are fair. But I think you take them too far. The final battle was pretty much premised on the whole save the girl bit; “I didn’t want to have to kill her Tony”.

    While Pepper did save the day in the end, she did so by pressing a button. Not exactly an active role. I would have wished they given her something to do based on the character’s wits and intelligence.

    Again, these complaints are mostly nit-picks. The movie was better than most (especially Spider-Man) when it comes to how it treats its female characters. But I still think it could have done better.

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. lisa says:

    I’m actually gonna say pepper saved the day–not by getting rid of the bad guy at the end by “pushing a button” but by…well. actually telling SHIELD about what was going on. even if the bad guy had beaten iron man–he’d have /still/ gone to jail, he’d still have been ruined, and there’s a good chance that SHIELD would have stepped in before stark kicked it and taken out Stane.

    for someone who isn’t a superhero, isn’t really a main character /and/ a woman in an action film….i think pepper did pretty good for herself. y’know. being all sensible and saving the day and making sure the bad guy /stayed/ put away….

    tony just punched things. and it was /his/ movie.

    she did better then he did–and the entire audiance /knew it/.

  6. Lisa: good points. I agree with, more or less. Pepper did get a solid showing in the film. Most of my comments are nit-picks. I just wanted Pepper to more.

    The only bit of your comment I would take issue with is you assertion that the audience knew that Pepper did better than Tony.

    My audience didn’t react at all to any of the Pepper scenes. 99.9% of the applause and cheering came during Tony scenes. Even the scenes were Pepper was set-up to steal the show she didn’t, with my audience.

    Thanks for commenting!

  7. Brett says:

    I’m no expert on nuclear reactors, but any time I’ve seen a guy have to do that in movies, it pretty went the same way Pepper did it. I think he chance to use her skills came when she managed to sneak the flash drive out right under Stanes nose without him realizing it until he went back to the PC she was working on after-the-fact. I can’t imagine I was the only one who thought she was gonna be captured right then and there when Obidiah first walked into the office. And then like Lisa said, there’s her dealing with shield pretty much entirely of her own initiative.

    I agree it would’ve been great to see her do more, but at 2 hours, it was already pretty long for a comic book movie. Maybe if there is an unrated or directors cut when the DVD comes out they will put more stuff back in. For example, I heard there was a 7 minute long yacht party in Dubai cut out from just before the second Afghanistan scene.

    My audience reacted to Pepper pretty favorably. They actually laughed out loud at the taking out the trash line and the scene where she walks in on Tony “its not the weirdest thing you’ve caught me doing”. She wasn’t really supposed to upstage Downey, so she really did the best she could in a supporting role, IMHO.

    I hear you though, and I think the filmmakers will too. You can bet she’ll have more screen time in the next one, but at least some of it will be the love-interest angle they started foreshadowing.

  8. Jack Beninble says:

    Yeah, aside from defeating Iron Monger, saving Stark’s life on multiple occasions and bringing Stane’s illicit arms trading to government attention, Pepper didn’t really do anything, right?

    I’m afraid I don’t agree with the “only pushing a button” argument either: what is flying a jet (or for that matter, the Iron Man armor) besides pushing a few buttons while placing your life in jeopardy – the very thing that Pepper did in overloading the reactor-thingie.

    In fact no character in the movie did MORE than Pepper except for Stark himself, and unless you’re going to strap Gwyneth in a can and call her Iron Maiden, that’s pretty much going to be unavoidable.

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