Thursday, May 01, 2008

If "Iron Man" is anything to go by, we can expect a summer season of big action thrills. Familiar names, though they may be, this summer's movies are going to prove that there's a lot of mileage left in the characters we admired when we were kids.

I never cared much for Iron Man. The name didn't strike a chord with me, but of all the pantheon of superheroes, he seemed like the easiest to draw. A basically human shape, a yellow-and-red colour scheme and a completely expressionless face kind'a like this --> {-_-}, and there was a costumed crimefighter I could reproduce on pages of jotter book paper, even when my artwork skill was just about zero.

In the comic books, IM a.k.a. Tony Stark, is one of the most flawed, troubled persons to wage war on crime. His heart's liable to give out any minute, he was a warning as to how substance abuse can destroy lives, and lately in the Civil War story arc, he comes off as a self-righteous jerk with the expertise to make his fascistic plans a reality. And yet, Stark fights for the very best of reasons, doing what he feels is necessary to right the injustices inflicted upon the world.

Robert Downey Jr plays a convincing Tony Stark, complete with goatee beard. Downey Jr is himself a troubled celebrity so he should understand the role quite well, though Stark has a slight advantage being a design, engineering, robotics genius.

The movie is action-thrill all the way. The televised footage of Afghan captors displaying Stark as their latest hostage is reminiscent of many other hostage displays in real-life. It's just uplifting when Stark turns the terror on his captors while escaping captivity, and the retribution he exacts on them later during his rescue of a besieged village is pure lizard-brain elation. Yes, it's fantasy, but it's always a rush to see the bullied fight back and win.

But that's just the sideshow for the battle about to take place, this time a little closer to home...

Stark has everything he wants, but what he needs he has to keep at arms' length. He's a war-monger hoping to bring peace to the world. He's a dying man with a never-say-die spirit. A good boy, and a bad boy all at the same time. Welcome to a world of contradictions embodied in the man who wears the armour. Iron Man. Cool.

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