A couple of people took me to task for my take on Iron Man 2. I like to think of myself as a simple man, but maybe that isn't true anymore.
Rethinking my expectations
I started reading comics as a kid. Batman, Green Lantern, The Hulk, and the X-men were some of my favorites. Growing up, superheroes were pure escapism. Granted some of the characters had family problems, personal problems, and even Batman lost a Robin, but the stories were all larger than life.
Superhero flicks are still larger than life, but they have more "realistic problems."
- Batman is a male Paris Hilton who fights crime.
- Peter Parker wouldn't know what to do with the girl if he got her.
- Tony Stark is rotting away from a self-inflicted disease + he is a male Paris Hilton who doesn't fight crime, he is bringing about world peace.
Holding out for a Hero!
Ok, everyone knows that I am a huge Bonnie Tyler fan, but every time I watch one of these movies, I hear her in the back of my head:
Where have all the good men gone And where are all the gods? Where's the street-wise Hercules To fight the rising odds? Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed? Late at night I toss and turn and dream of what I need
I need a hero I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night He's gotta be strong And he's gotta be fast And he's gotta be fresh from the fight I need a hero I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light He's gotta be sure And it's gotta be soon And he's gotta be larger than life
I want a superhero who is, well a hero. They don't have to be perfect, and well they can have basic human flaws, but at the end of the day, they need to be a hero!
Returning to Iron Man 2, I thought Whiplash made a good case against the Stark family, and Tony just acted like the spoiled brat Whiplash thought he was. I actually found myself wanting Whiplash to win. I can't stand whiny, self-important bitches, and that is all I saw in Tony. His womanizing turned me off, and his self-pity made me roll my eyes. He dug his own grave, and I was ready to see him lay in it.
Escapism and Realism
I think my biggest issue with the film is that I was really looking for some pure escapism from the movie. That is what I look for in a superhero movie.
I watch a superhero for action, mystery, and pure escapism. Watching a super hero struggle with illness was outside the realm of what I wanted to see, especially with people in my life actually struggling with various illnesses that do not have a magical deus ex machina serum. It felt like salt in the wound.
The illness reminded me of my real life, and the magic cure just upset me. I went to see a movie where a superhero and super-villain tangled with each other until the film climaxed in a super-mega-ultra battle.
The movie, like all (not so) superhero movies since Batman Begins, opened with scenes of stark realism... but it is a superhero movie!! Superheroes just aren't realistic, and films cannot serve two masters.
I am not sure exactly when escapism became a bad word, but my life is complicated enough. Sometimes I just want to walk into a dark cave and forget about my real life for a couple of hours. It might sound petty, but that is it.
I want a great, escapist spectacle from time to time, but more than anything, I want filmmakers to be honest with me and with their material. If the movie is not an action movie, don't tell me it is. If the movie is not a smart, well written think piece, be good with that. Just don't pretend one is the other, and stop telling yourself you can be both at the same time.
A half-assed story with half-assed action is just a half-assed movie. Two half-assed jobs never make a whole.
I know some of you liked the movie. Great! I wish I was one of you. Keep having fun, and sharing. It is good to hear contrary opinions. Just remember, we don't have to love the same things, we just need to help each other find more things we can all enjoy.