The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Friday, May 02, 2008

Iron Man (2008)

Had a marvelous time. They're really, finally learning how to make comic-book movies. I'd put this in the top three or four, up with "Superman II", "Spiderman II", and "Batman Returns" (I would have put Blade, but there's that pesky Sambo factor going on there: no true humanity). The story of Tony Stark, gazillionare genius playboy who becomes enlightend to the way his family's arms business has damaged the world...and builds a syber-suit to undo some of the damage...is closely based on the 1964-ish comic book origin story (swapping Afghanistan for Viet Nam). It is getting truly spooky to see just how fertile the original Marvel Bullpin was. Stan Lee is a god, and Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, Don Heck...all the guys who co-created (the Marvel creative technique was clearly quite collaborative, giving the artists much greater leeway than DC. There is controversy about what Stan did or didn't do...but one thing is certain: none of these artists were as creative anywhere else they worked. Stan was either the genuine creator, co-creator, or a stimulus/calalyst par excellence. For a Marvel geek like me, watching all of this happen is just too much fun for words. Final note: DO stick around for the full credits. As rumored, there is indeed a surprise. The actors are great, the effects are great, some of the best movie dialog in a comic book film ever ever ever. What incredible fun. An "A"
##
I never insult people on my blog. Hopefully, when I accused Frank of "mischief" he knows that I mean I think he's engaging in a little political gamesmanship, kindly offering advice to those across the aisle. Wink wink. No offense meant. It's a clever tactic.
##
I'm in Iowa for Demicon. Looking forward to it: haven't been in Iowa for a couple of decades. Jeeze...I'm beginning to forget which states I've been in! Maybe...thirty.
And the question of the day is: how many states have you visited?
##
Oh--the "Obama's black advantage" thing came up again. I want to make it clear: it isn't that I don't think that, in some ways, being black hasn't been an advantage. It's that I believe that unless you understand and factor in the ways it has been a disadvantage you are only looking at one half of the equation. And up until this time, I have understood and anticipated every explanation for the "advantages", while the people who promote the idea of advantage seem to me to have little idea of the disadvantages (from my point of view.) Without enumerating, debating and weighing both advantages and disadvantages, it is difficult to come to a conclusion here. I would love to hear a convincing argument, but remember the "Will Smith can't have sex" thing that I'm obsessed with: I believe it demonstrates the "invisible hand of racism in the marketplace." I may be wrong, but so long as I believe that to be true, I hope you can see why it would be almost impossible for me to buy Obama's ethnicity being, overall, any kind of real advantage. It is also worthwhile to note that I've never met a white person who let themselves see this before I pointed it out to them. And about 90% of black people know it before I say it. My position is that there are lots of other factors, many of them trickier to prove (movie stats are easy to get, which makes this particular factoid a keeper) but just as indicative of a serious issue. While I believe that people believing Obama to have an advantage on the basis of race to be well-intended, experience also suggests to me that they want to believe white people are...well, are considerably nicer than I think human beings actually are, or that history suggests any of us to be. In potential? Sure. In practice? Wellll....

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been to 38 states so far. I have been to every continental state West of the Mississippi except North Dakota. I don't count states that I flew over and I don't count states that I drove through and didn't get out of my car. I will admit I did make extra stops to claim those states though.

I look forward to seeing you this evening. I am going to Demicon since I live in Iowa and it is the only such con I attend. What are some of your favorite cons you have attended?

Mike Ralls said...

I think you mean "Batman Begins." Batman Returns was the one with the Killer Penguins.

I think I've been in (not just driven through or flown in and out of but spent at least one day in) around 15 - 20 states.

Dan Moran said...

I have to look at a map ...

I've been to California, Oregon, Washington; Arizona, Nevada, Utah; Idaho, Montana, not Wyoming; Colorado, New Mexico,; Texas; South Dakota, Nebraska; not sure about Kansas; Oklahoma; Minnesota, Iowa; not Missouri or Arkansas; Louisiana; not Mississippi; not Tennesee; not Kentucky; not Wisconsin; Illinois, Indiana, Ohio; not Michigan; not Maine or New Hampshire or Vermont; Massacheussets, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia (not West Virginia); North Carolina, South Carolina; Georgia; not Alabama, Florida ...

I haven't been to: Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, Kansas (I think), Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennesee, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, West Virginia and Alabama.

That's 16 or 17 states I haven't visited. More than I'd thought -- I'd have guessed it at ~10.

Steven Barnes said...

YES! Batman Begins, indeed. Good Lord.

Pagan Topologist said...

I have visited 42 States. The ones I have not are: Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, although I cannot honestly recall whether I spent any time in New Mexico or just drove through it.

BTW, Steve, I don't understand the context of this sentence:

It is also worthwhile to note that I've never met a white person who let themselves see this before I pointed it out to them. And about 90% of black people know it before I say it.

What is the antecedent of this?

Anonymous said...

"Jeeze...I'm beginning to forget which states I've been in! Maybe...thirty.
And the question of the day is: how many states have you visited?"

Now I wanna see if anyone lists states like Kerala or Queensland. :)

"I would love to hear a convincing argument, but remember the 'Will Smith can't have sex' thing that I'm obsessed with: I believe it demonstrates the 'invisible hand of racism in the marketplace.'"

Speaking of which, there are the whites who cast black actors as lovers and husbands in movies less often than they cast black actresses as lovers and wives in movies...

...and there are the whites who marry black men more than they marry black women (I heard that BH-WW couples outnumber BW-WH couples in the US IRL).

Which group are the white voters closer to, what does that mean for Obama, and what else could this stuff mean?

Anonymous said...

Question on the question of the day. Do states I've passed through, but not stopped in count. That is if I flew into Atlanta airport rented a car and drove to Alabama does Georgia count as a state I've been in.

Marty S

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

What is the antecedent of this?

"Will Smith can't have sex" looks to me to be the antecedent of this.

Ed Greaves said...

I very carefully track where I've been. I've visited 20 states. Most are the east coast, but a few outliers for work, or family events. It's a goal of mine to eventually hit all 50 states.

mjholt said...

Steve, thanks for the question of the day. I have been to 30 states. More than I realized.

Answer to question of the day:
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Hawaii (lay over)
Idaho
Kansas
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Texas (lay over)
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington (live there)
Wyoming

Steve Perry said...

Thirty-five states for me. All those in the west, save Alaska. All the southern states. Some of the midwest. Some eastern seaboard. Not much of New England, save NY & NJ -- neither of the Dakotas or Wisconsin. Can't recall being in Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania. Missed Rhode Island and Delaware, Minnesota ...

suzanne said...

been to 45:
not to
Alabama
Louisiana
South Carolina
Alaska
Hawaii

Anonymous said...

If I count the states I've driven through, but not necessarily stayed overnight 44. Missing Kansas,North and south dakota,nebraska,wyoming,montana.

Marty S

AlanL said...

I'm not American and have never lived in America. Nevertheless, I'm at ten if I count fairly, plus another four if I count driving through, changing planes etc. More than most (many, at least) Americans?

Mark Jones said...

My wife and I just saw Iron Man tonight. It definitely rocks! We'll be seeing it again and owning it on DVD ASAP.

I've long had a theory that the reason superhero comics outlasted westerns, war comics, romance, mystery/detective, horror and other comics (for the most part) is that you can do all those other types of stories in live action fairly easily. But superheroes?

Until relatively recently, it was extremely difficult (and expensive) to even try to duplicate the infinite SFX budget of hand-drawn comics. There were exceptions (Superman, Superman II), but mostly superheroes didn't exist or were trapped in the low-budget ghetto.

Now the SFX exist to do justice to the comics and we've seen a spate of them (Spider-Man, X-Men, Hulk, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, etc. Not all were great by any means--but they weren't bad _because_ the SFX couldn't pass muster.)

Anonymous said...

I have a new theory to explain Rev. Wright saying "Obama is a politician and says what he has to as a politician". It is really an effort by a very intelligent man to help his close friend. By making that comment he accomplishes two things for Obama. He gives Obama an excuse to come out and distance himself from the reverend without looking like he is abandoning a close friend and it makes it look as though he and Obama aren't that close begin with. This makes it harder for the republicans to use Wright's positions against Obama in the general election.

Marty S

Anonymous said...

"I've long had a theory that the reason superhero comics outlasted westerns, war comics, romance, mystery/detective, horror and other comics (for the most part) is that you can do all those other types of stories in live action fairly easily. But superheroes?"

OTOH, those other genres lasted more in prose too. Did they outlast superhero non-comic books?

Anonymous said...

I for one cannot figure out what makes one set of characters last and another not. Most of the cartoon characters of my childhood either completely gone or mostly gone, but silly Tom and Jerry for some reason seem to have maintained their appeal.

Marty S

Mark Jones said...

"OTOH, those other genres lasted more in prose too. Did they outlast superhero non-comic books?"

I couldn't say. But I do note that there have never been a lot of superhero novels or short stories. Superheroes have mostly been relegated to the comics, where the superheroics (throwing tanks around, flying people and whatnot) work visually better than they tend to do in the written form. Or, until fairly recently, in live action.

Now the movies can replicate pretty much anything an artist can draw--and with live action (or its CGI equivalent). Which is why I think we're seeing a lot more of them now.

But in any case, this movie in particular was well done on many levels. I really enjoyed it, and I look forward to seeing more--and if it gets the kind of word-of-mouth I expect it will, it'll do well enough that a sequel is pretty much guaranteed.

Gildersleeve said...

I haven't watched Iron Man yet, but it's great to hear that they did a good job. There was a pretty bad spell there when it came to comic book movies. The last X-Men movie, Daredevil, Hulk, Ghost Rider and Fantastic Four were pretty bad.

Paul Gibbons said...

Driven through or flown into 40 plus DC.
The list of states I HAVEN'T been in is shorter:
North Dakota
South Dakota
Montana
Idaho
Minnesota
Wisconsin
Louisiana
Alabama
Maine
Vermont

Brother OMi said...

Hmm
New York
New JErsey
Pennsylvania
Ohio
Kentucky
Massachusetts
Conneticut
North Carolina
Virginia
WEst Virginia
South Carolina
Goergia
California
Florida
Illinois

i know i missed a few

thanks for the Iron Man review. It's best to get it from a true Marvel head

Steven Barnes said...

Why superheros in comicbooks but not novels...good question. Not sure.
##
The fact that there are more actual statistical cases of black men with white women than would appear in media (where the stats are reversed) says something, that's for sure. Not sure what. To me, it says that the majority of white males are VERY uncomfortable with white women "leaving the fold" so to speak, but perfectly willing to engage in fantasies about pissing in someone ELSE'S gene pool. To me, the "Obama has an advantage" meme is spread by the Clinton camp so that it looks like any victory less than a blow-out is sign his balloon is collapsing. "See? Even with all his advantages, she still came close!" It is, in my estimation, a version of the Big Lie. You say it often enough, loud enough, and some will believe. That's not to say it's impossible, just that I see nothing in our history, our current landscape, or even the history of the world (ah...and just when and where in the world did a member of an oppressed ethnic minority have an advantage in becoming the leader of a nation? I'd really like to hear about this).

Steven Barnes said...

Oops--
I mean someone who had an advantage based upon membership in the oppressed group. (Or formerly oppressed group). I can believe someone from such a group clawing their way to the top, but I'd bet anything that that person was simply extraordinary...and that therefore (in my estimation) it is more reasonable to assume that the racial aspect was a DISADVANTAGE that he overcame, rather than an unfair advantage somehow.

Steve Perry said...

One of my favorite cold war jokes: At a track meet, the metric mile race had in it only two runners, an American and a Russian. The American won.

Pravda had it: "During the recent glorious track meet held in Helskinki, in the fifteen hundred meter event, the Soviet runner came in second, while the American runner finished second-to-last ..."

Spin, baby, spin ...

Anonymous said...

"The fact that there are more actual statistical cases of black men with white women than would appear in media (where the stats are reversed) says something, that's for sure. Not sure what."

One of the many different things it says is that folklore (whether Hollywood, fairy tales, or whatever) can be closer to "truthiness" than to an accurate picture of what happened and what's happening.

"but perfectly willing to engage in fantasies about pissing in someone ELSE'S gene pool."

My conception was not my father pissing in my mother's father's gene pool.

My mother is a human being, not just a sperm container men of her ethnic groups somehow deserve first dibs on using.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

"The fact that there are more actual statistical cases of black men with white women than would appear in media (where the stats are reversed) says something, that's for sure. Not sure what."

Well, part of what it says is that in real life both white men and white women are pairing off with people of other races, but white men are relatively more likely to be pairing off with Asian women, and white women are relatively more likely to be pairing off with black men. Hence, the part of the discrepancy where in real life more white women marry black men than white men marry black women. And I'm unable to think of any way that this trend in romantic relationships ought to affect Obama's candidacy.

What the movie part of the discrepancy says, I suppose, is that often movies say more about the fantasies of the target market than about reality.

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