Fanboy Friday: The Hero of Consequence

For anyone who hasn’t seen Iron Man 3 yet, be warned – there will be spoilers.  Was Iron Man 3 the best superhero movie I’ve seen?  No.  In my opinion, it is the best Iron Man movie out of the three.  Yes, even with the polarizing way the Mandarin was portrayed, I felt that Iron Man 3 is the best Iron Man movie.  The biggest reason being I feel as if this movie did the best job of telling the story of Tony Stark and finding the essence of his character.

The movie poses many questions about Tony as a character.  Even if he can be a part of the Avengers and save the world, if he doubts that he can protect those important to him, what’s the point?  The movie does a good job of giving us a sense of Tony’s anxiety.  Gone is his playboy charm and calm and cool demeanor.  What’s left is a man obsessed with trying to find a sense of control in a world where for the first time in his life he feels small.  His armour is gone.  Which leads into another question the movie poses: take away the suit and what’s left?  By the time movie ends the answer is quite clear.  Tony Stark is Iron Man.  He makes the suit, the suit doesn’t make him.  It could be seen as making Tony more human (at the end of the movie all of his suits are destroyed and the arc reactor core in his heart is removed.  He literally finds his heart). The movie takes our hero and makes him feel vulnerable.

I haven’t paid much attention to Iron Man in the comics both before and after Iron Man was released in theaters.  I knew who he was and could recognize him, but didn’t understand him as a character.  Even after the first two movies and digesting Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca‘s “Most Wanted” and “Stark: Disassembled” story arcs in Invincible Iron Man, the character never clicked with me.  Sure he was portrayed in brilliant fashion by Robert Downey Jr. and the comics were thrilling.  I only cared about him on the most basic level: he was the hero of the story I was reading or watching.

Iron Man 3 opens and ends with Tony talking to a doctor about mistakes he’s made in his past.  As the movie started and all the way til the lights came on and the screen went black the character finally clicked with me.  I got him.  The core of Tony Stark was a man who is always the smartest, best looking, and most powerful man in the room.  All of his stories involve him getting knocked down a peg because he is so arrogant that he cannot fathom anyone else getting the best of him.  Every story ends the same; he overcomes whatever past demons come to wreck havoc on his life.  His life usually takes a large hit but he comes out of it, not a changed man, but a stronger one in a new shiny set of armour.

Tony Stark reminds us that not only do our actions and failures to act have consequences, but our family past does as well.  Stark Industries – which Tony takes over for his father – mass produces weapons for the “good guys”. People steal them and use them to kidnap him.  His father deports a colleague during their work on the arc reactor. The colleague’s son comes back to ruin Tony’s life.  The head of the rival company offers Tony a position and Tony in turn embarrasses him.  The rival comes back for pay back.  Tony provokes a terrorists to a fight and gives him the address to his house. The terrorists sends helicopters to blow it up.  Tony has his charm but he sure knows how to make enemies.  Just because he’s one of the smartest people on the planet doesn’t mean he always knows what’s right.

A storyline which hasn’t been explored in the movies yet is what some consider Iron Man’s greatest story: Demon in a Bottle by David Michelinie, Bob Layton, John Romita Jr. and Carmine Infantino.  In the story, Tony’s life is under attack on all fronts. To deal with the hardship Tony becomes an alcoholic.  The story asks us, what does a hero do when the enemy he is facing cannot be punched in the face?  What happens when our fights cannot be solved by a fight?  In the end Tony conquers all of his problems.  He has to, he’s the hero, it’s what they do.

Tony represents the best of us.  The uber-confident playboy charmer who always knows what to say and do.  Who has never had an awkward moment in his life.  He also represents the worst in us.  He makes mistakes, he can be arrogant and can be blinded by his ego.  Only difference between his mistakes and ours is that our mistakes don’t usually try to blow us up.  And even if it feels like they do, we don’t need a suit of armour to beat it.  But it is nice sometimes to pretend that we do.

It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Nicole

A few weeks ago, my 8 year old cousin taught me all about Iron Man, Hulk, and their Avenger bffs (while he devoured a cinnamon bun the size of his face).  I’m basically an expert now.  Actually watching any of the Iron Man or Avengers movies seems entirely useless at this point, since he taught me everything about everything.

I learned that Iron Man’s middle name is “Edward”.  He’s very smart and has knows a lot about physics things.  And, he has something in his chest that glows.  He’s also a good guy.

Wolverine is Canadian.  AND.  He’s also a master samurai guru.  AND.  He has sideburns.  I don’t think there are a lot of sideburn-toting Canadian master samurai warriors.  Wolverine is a rare commodity.  AND.  Wolverine is my cousin’s favourite.  I can’t verify if he’s a good guy or a bad guy.  I forget.

I mean, I learned so much that I’ll probably be writing our next article about Avengers stuff (you know, probably).

Irving Chong (@Irving_Chong) and Nicole (@_nicoliooo) are co-creators of This is Why we Can’t Have Nice Things even though it doesn’t make sense why they’re friends.

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