JIM DOOM: A few days ago, you left me a voicemail that said that “I just saw Iron Man, and not to spoil anything, but it’s my favorite movie of all time ever, and it’s the best thing that’s ever been created by mankind, even better than everything.”
Care to elaborate?
DOOM DELUISE: Certainly. Human beings, aka homo sapiens, evolved over many generations from monkeys. Since their development, they’ve come up with many amazing inventions, creations, works of art, etc. The wheel stands out as a good one, for example. The movie, “Iron Man,” starring Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark, is, to date, the greatest accomplishment humans have achieved.
JIM DOOM: By “elaborate,” I meant something more like “Can you offer examples or explanations of what makes you think it’s so great,” as opposed to “Can you just restate ‘the best thing ever in the history of humans’ with different words?”
DOOM DELUISE: Oh, my bad. In that case, I think the movie is probably one of the most, essentially, fun experiences one could possibly ask for from a two-hour movie-going experience. The writing, the acting, the effects, they all come together to form a tight, hilarious, exciting, thrilling movie that, in my opinion, is super solid.
JIM DOOM: I’ll take that.
How much have you read Iron Man comics?
DOOM DELUISE: I read about two dozen in the early 90s. I’ve only since read Iron Man when he’s been involved with big crossovers. No, he’s never been one of my regularly read titles, if that’s what you’re asking. How much have you read?
JIM DOOM: Very very little. I don’t think I bought a single Iron Man comic before it was relaunched in the past couple years. I wonder if being relatively unfamiliar with his history helped me enjoy it more, because I was completely open to whatever backstory they wanted to give him.
I don’t think this movie could’ve worked without the context of the military – industrial complex and war profiteers being so present in modern culture.
They managed to do a great job of making Iron Man a product of the story rather than creating some contrived situation to justify having a superhero fight bad guys.
And I think the absolute best thing about this movie, one of the biggest failings of most superhero movies, is that this film was not ashamed to be a superhero movie. There was no self-deprecatory, “Hey, we’re making a COMIC BOOK movie — isn’t this cute?” nudge-nudge wink-wink self-neutering that happens in so many comic book movies.
All of the humor came naturally through well-defined characters and never at the expense of the story.
I think that, more than anything, allowed this movie to work.
It gave the viewers permission to get emotionally invested in what was happening.
DOOM DELUISE: Most definitely. It also deftly was able to side-step another one of the biggest problems that has plagued previous comic book movies: It never took itself too seriously. When the chips were on the table, and the villain wanted Stark dead, we saw some emotions coming through, but, otherwise, you didn’t have very many scenes of Tony Stark brooding or staring off into the night sky while contemplating his place in the world.
Here, he’s a man of action, and when shit starts going down, he steps up his efforts to stop it.
JIM DOOM: I like that they not only got good actors for this, but they let them act. I think some of the best scenes in the movie were when Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow were just standing a few feet from each other and conversing.
DOOM DELUISE: I agree. And I think that Jeff Bridges owned his role as the Iron Monger.
That scene where his top scientist is telling him that they just don’t have the technology to create this gizmo, and he just screams, “Tony Stark built this in a cave using a bucket of scraps!” I was blown away.
JIM DOOM: Was there anything you didn’t like?
DOOM DELUISE: No.
JIM DOOM: I’m honestly trying to think if there was anything I didn’t like either. Maybe the final battle was a little anti-climactic, but what it was able to do was show that Tony was willing to let himself get killed if it meant stopping Stane.
One thing I was really impressed with was how tight and cohesive the story felt. Considering this was a Marvel movie and 4 writers were credited, I’m surprised it wasn’t more of a mess like Spider-Man 3.
DOOM DELUISE: I think that a lot of times, comic book movies get stuck trying to please the “fan boys” a bit too much. I never got that impression from this movie. This catered to the general movie-going population, by offering up a fun movie about a superhero in an iron costume. Sure, it threw in a couple little jokes (like with the allusion to War Machine) that were there for the fans of the comics, but I really couldn’t have cared less if this was “true to the source material.” They made a great movie, regardless of what they were building off of.
And I think a subtle but important difference is being respectful of the source material, as opposed to trying to be faithful to it.
I’m all for respecting it, but beyond that, just make a good movie, folks.
JIM DOOM: I feel like we don’t have much to talk about because we both liked it so much. It’s probably also worth adding that my wife was fully prepared to hate it and was just going along to one of my geek movies to be nice, but she loved it.
DOOM DELUISE: What was your favorite part of the movie? Favorite scene/line/character/whatever?
JIM DOOM: Mrs. Jim Doom asked me the same question after we left the theater, and I didn’t have a good answer. What I told her then was that my favorite thing about the movie was the consistency in Tony Stark’s character, the way he deflected everything with a wisecrack, whether he was dealing with friends, the media or robots. That relentless levity was key to making the gravity work.
DOOM DELUISE: That’s a really great point.
Mine’s much more simple. My favorite scene was when he and Rhodes were on his private jet, and he suggested they get drunk, and Rhodes was like, “It’s nine o’clock in the morning, no way am I drinking with you,” and then it cuts to them, super wasted, with the stewardesses dancing around provacatively. That cracked me up.
Or the scene, which speaks directly to what you mentioned, when Stark finally quits the wise-cracking with Pepper, and tells her that there are no more benefits, no more public appearances. It’s just the next mission.
Without him constantly cracking wise in the previous half of the movie, that scene would’ve been absurd.
JIM DOOM: Yep. Oh and another great thing, tiny but great, was how they saved that scene. She was going to quit, and I was like “Oh great, here’s some shallow comic book melodrama, just injected for melodrama’s sake, but if you think about it, it actually makes no sense for them to act this way.” But then what happened? Tony Stark points out how her behavior makes no sense. He represents what any audience member with a brain is thinking, and she changes her mind.
Movies like Ghost Rider are so weighed down with stupidity that you’re just supposed to ignore because it’s just a superhero movie — quit taking everything so seriously! But audiences don’t want to be insulted, they don’t want to root for idiots, and they just want to be able to get sucked into the entertainment.
DOOM DELUISE: Exactly. Also, not enough can be said about the last scene here. That press conference scene was the perfect ending, in my mind.
I don’t think it would’ve worked nearly as well, though, if you hadn’t had twenty years of moody superheroes tightly guarding their secret identities.
JIM DOOM: Oh yeah. I was disappointed that “Iron Man” the song hadn’t made it into the film yet, but then I was like “Okay, if they were saving it for that moment, I forgive them.”
Yeah, you’re definitely right. They really did a great job of showing how Tony Stark is totally unlike any big-screen superhero yet.
Did you by chance stick around for the surprise after the credits?
DOOM DELUISE: Yes, I did.
JIM DOOM: Shallow fanboy gimmick or a tease of something potentially great?
DOOM DELUISE: Well, it’s both. They’ve already announced an Iron Man 2 for 2010, as well as a Captain America movie, a Thor movie, an Ant-Man movie, and, the plan is eventually to make the Avengers happen.
With Marvel Productions now fully owning all their characters’ rights, I think we’re about to enter the golden age for superhero comic book movies.
JIM DOOM: I wouldn’t get too excited yet. It’s not like Spider-Man 3, Hulk and Ghost Rider didn’t follow some really good movies. Just because they did well here doesn’t mean they suddenly know how to do it right.
DOOM DELUISE: Yeah, but Iron Man is the first movie that was created by Marvel’s in-house studio. Spider-Man 3 had Sony’s fingerprints on it.
‘Course, the Incredible Hulk is the second in-house flick, and it looks terrible.
JIM DOOM: I don’t like the idea of a Captain America solo movie. I think his story needs to be told as the backbone of an Avengers movie, like in the first volume of the Ultimates.
DOOM DELUISE: I don’t like the idea of an Ant-Man movie.
And a Skrull!
JIM DOOM: I agree. They’ll probably play it for laughs. We’re getting off topic though. Any other thoughts on Iron Man or should we just end this love fest?
DOOM DELUISE: Iron Man isn’t the greatest movie of all time. I know that full well. But it is a whole hell of a lot of fun, and it was much more than I expected going into it. I will see it again, and I will eventually own this movie. I’m more than willing to look over whatever flaws it has, because what it offers is real simple: It offers fun. And who doesn’t like fun?
And that’s my final thought.