Iron Man – Comic Movie
Billionaire arms manufacturer Tony Stark creates the ultimate battle suit to save the world from the weapons built by Stark Enterprises–his own company!
With the release of the new movie, Iron Man jumps from the pages of the popular comic book series into cinematic history with incredible special effects and a charming turn by Robert Downy, Jr. in the title role, and has been rewarded richly by the critics and the box-office. Fans were cheered by the appearance of Iron Man’s classic supporting cast, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Happy Hogan (cameoed by the director Jon Favreau himself), as well as “Rhodey” Rhodes (Terrence Howard), the future War Machine. “Next time,” Rhodey promises, nodding at the armor. “Next time.”
Iron Man is Tony Stark encased in the impregnable suit he himself invented on the fly while a prisoner-in Afghanistan in the movie, in Vietnam in the comic. His armor lets him fight his way to freedom, and, once back in the states, he devotes himself to refining his initial crude design. A sleeker armor lets him fight…crime…terrorists…his corrupt business partner…
The character of Iron Man started life as a comic book superhero from the Marvel Comics stable of Silver Age characters created during the height of the cold war, like Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and The X-Men-but Iron Man’s origin is more closely tied to Cold War mores than any of the others. The challenge for scripters of both comic and film is to keep a character whose defining moment involves arms dealing in Vietnam relevant into the twenty-first century.
Created by Stan Lee, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby, with an assist by Lee’s brother Larry Lieber, Iron Man made his first appearance in *Tales of Suspense* #39 in March of 1963, and in many ways he is the archetypical Marvel superhero of the era: good at heart but deeply flawed. Like Captain America he has had to face the death of a mentor he could not save; like Spider-man he has found that his irresponsibility has returned to haunt him; like some of the X-Men he finds himself marked physically during his origin story; like Daredevil he suffers from what would ordinarily be a debilitating handicap; and like the Incredible Hulk there lurks (we learn eventually) a demon inside him. Or at least inside his bottle.
Because one of the characteristics that makes Iron Man unique is his all-too-human weakness. Batman pretends to be a billionaire playboy, but Iron Man isn’t pretending. His irresponsible drinking and womanizing is played for laughs in the film, as you might expect from Hollywood, but comics readers know that Stark is headed for a battle with alcoholism as harrowing as any showdown with the Mandarin.
Not that this detracts from Stark’s heroism or genius. In fact, Stark was honored by *Business Week* as one of the ten most intelligent super-heroes, charting at #3 behind only Mr. Fantastic and Batman-a moment that could have come straight from the spinning “Stark wunderkind” headlines of the Iron Man film.
If Iron Man is most celebrated for the armor that gives him the power of flight and is loaded with gadgetry and weapons, including missiles and the famed repulsor rays, he is perhaps most distinguished by his unique genius, and his will to overcome his own frailties.
The guy’s all heart-even is there’s shrapnel stuck in it.