History of Iron Man
I had the opportunity to catch the midnight premier of what is likely to be the initial “summer blockbuster” of the 2008 season. Iron Man has since this debut had the second biggest non-sequel opening day in history, trailing only Spider-Man. Last summer had 14 sequels, this summer only 7. More on the movie itself later. First, this film had not only an interesting debut, but has some interesting high-tech tie-ins.
During the credits, I noticed that computer graphics were done by Tata Elxsi’s Visual Computing Labs. I used to work for Tata ELXSI some 20 years ago when they were making one of the world’s most powerful super mini-computers.
But there is a more contemporary high-tech tie-in. Oracle is co-promoting the movie, with a tie-in to the fact that “Marvel Entertainment relies on Oracle to manage growth and provide seamless technology integration.”
The computer graphics in this movie have defined the new state-of-the-art for film. Like the Transformers movie before it, CG works well for rendering machines. Computers are better at rendering machines than rendering people, which are so much more subtle. Here, it is almost seamless, unlike in the Spider-Man movie.
Did I like it? Absolutely. I’d give it an A-. This is perhaps the most deeply gratifying film adaptation of a comic book. Many believe that only Batman Returns rivals it. Indeed, it will not have missed the notice of some that there are some similarities between the Marvel Comics hero Iron Man and DC Comics‘ hero Batman. In their secret identities, they are both billionaire industrialists, inventors of creative technologies, and flamboyant playboys. Both characters battle their own personal demons. In the case of Tony Stark (Iron Man), he has battled alcohol addiction, which is ironic, considering the casting of Iron Man.
The action was impressive, the interaction between a talented cast, and the plot made this movie work. I’ve frequently compared this to the Spider-Man movies, as it serves as the benchmark of the Marvel Comics movie franchise. Spider-Man has historically been the most popular title of the Marvel universe, in the same way that Superman has been for DC Comics. And while I started reading Spider-Man comics in the early ’60s, and have not been a close follower of Iron Man, I found the later to be more satisfying as a movie experience. Perhaps it is because Spider-Man is about the travails of an adolescent — appropriate to comics’ primary demographic — while Iron Man deals with the problem of a grown man. The writing for this movie covered more sophisticated themes and more stark violence (no pun intended). The comedy worked better too.
Here’s a tip if you’re planning on seeing the movie: stay to the end of the credits. Not only will you see something interesting in the credits, but you’ll see something at the end of the credits that will be a treat.
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian
Great write up Bill, and I say that as someone who still reads comic books.
Yes, A- would be perfect for Iron Man. I love it lots.
Great review — being one that hasn’t seen the movie yet but this makes it a must see now, I’m definitely enjoying the other articles on your site as well.