Ah, another Monday, another day when I put random thoughts out into the ether.
Saw Iron Man 2 today. Blah. Not a bad movie, but not very good either. Like most superhero sequels, it’s way too heavy on plot, too short on creative superhero action. It’s not that I need to have a giant robot attack every five minutes (although that would be sweeeet), but for a movie about a guy named Iron Man, there really wasn’t much Iron Man. Add to this that the movie’s plot is almost identical to the previous film, you just end up with something . . . well . . . I don’t want to say anything too bad about the film, as it wasn’t bad. Just left me flat.
It’s hard for me to be critical on this. Even in comic books, it seems like superheroes are more about talking heads than outrageous schemes and superfights. I know it’s unsophisticated to say this, but I like my superheroes to kick butt. They don’t have to be stupid, but in the end, I usually enjoy it when our hero punches out the bad guys to solve the problem. That’s really what superheroes are all about, isn’t it? Spider-Man’s motto is “With great power . . . ” I’m sure you know the rest. And what is Spider-Man’s great power? The ability to beat people up real, real good. Batman might be the world’s greatest detective, but all that detecting usually leads to a fist fight somewhere down the road. And The Thing’s battle cry is “It’s clobberin’ time!”, not “Let’s have a chat!”
Here’s a personal philosophy of mine. If you spend a whole movie building up to a showdown, it should probably last longer than three minutes. Every great video game knows that the final boss fight needs to be epic. Otherwise, it just ends up making your villain look weak and your hero’s triumph seem handed to him.
But I’m sure that Iron Man 2 will make a billion dollars, so what do I know? But I’ll stick with The Incredibles.
To switch to a more positive note, have you seen Community? It’s a pretty cool show, and while I always hesitate to use the word subtle, I’m going to go ahead and say it on this one. Community is, on the surface, a fairly standard sitcom, but there’s a sneakiness to it that both revels in the sitcom tropes and enjoys playing with them at the same time. It’s not an easy thing to do, but so far, they’ve managed a fine balancing act. From a writing perspective, I love how Community has so far been able to have its cake and eat it too. It manages to be an homage of the sitcom genre while deconstructing it. And the most impressive part is that it doesn’t limit its ambitions to sitcom tropes either.
The most recent paintball apocalypse episode is a multi-layered homage to every great action movie cliche that still stays true to the characters AND is funny too boot. It’s also that rare treat that just gets better with repeated viewings. If you haven’t tried the show yet, you might be surprised. It just might grow on you.
If I was going to compare Iron Man 2 and Community (and I’m going to assume that I am the only one on Earth who shall do so) I’d say that this is where the two differ. Iron Man 2 only succeeds in annoying me the more I think about it. Community continues to impress me as I realize just everything that is going on here. And, yes, I’ll go ahead and say it. The paintball episode of Community was more thrilling and involving than Iron Man 2. And that’s pretty bizarre when I consider that one of those things has an army of robotic drones.
Oh, and while Samual L. Jackson is a fine actor and does a terrific (if mostly unnecessary) job as Nick Fury, in my heart of hearts, I’ll always see David Hasselhoff as Fury. Really, the guy nailed the role.
So how about them video game console wars? Can we just admit that all the major video game systems out there are pretty solid, and stop acting as if one is truly superior to the other? I have a Wii, and I enjoy it. I’m sure I’d enjoy an Xbox or a PS3. So let’s just stop acting as if it’s an either / or proposition. You’re allowed to like one. Or two. Or all of ‘em. This is video games, we’re talking about. Not religions.
And while I’m on the subject, can we also stop fighting over which Batman is the best Batman? Batman’s biggest strength has always been his flexibility as a character. There’s room in this universe for Detective Noir Batman (Batman: The Animated Series), Action Hero Batman (The Batman), and Fun, Anything Goes Batman (The Brave & The Bold). I like each version for very different reasons, but in the end, none is so much superior to the other as catering to our preferences. Heck, there’s even room in this world for Frank Miller’s dreadful All-Star Batman and Robin. The more, the merrier.
So going back to Iron Man 2, I guess I can retract some of my less flattering comments. Why can’t there be a non-super superhero? People sure seemed to like it with the Spidey movies. As someone once told me, “I like the Spider-Man movies because I’m not a comic book fan.” So superhero movies for non-superhero fans? Why not? It’s a big, beautiful world, isn’t it? Who cares about the label?
It’s funny to even write “non-superhero superhero fans” because what does that even mean? A big reason I’m not into comic books now is that they’re too much talking and plotting, not enough hitting and robot fighting. While that might not seem very superheroic to me, it’s not as if I hold the key to what does and doesn’t constitute great superhero fiction. For some folks, superheroes are about larger-than-life adventures and kicking evil aliens in the face. For others, it’s about people standing around, talking, and maybe occasionally throwing a punch here and there. Whatever floats your boat.
To end on a positive note, I enjoying seeing Happy Hogan (as played by Jon Favreau) re-introduced into the Iron Man universe. I might be the only one happy to see Happy, but that’s good enough for me.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,