Friday, July 20, 2012

Iron Man is spelt ‘Downey Jr.’

Me? I like Iron Man, but I don’t really like Iron Man, if you know what I’m saying? In the midst of all the cash that just spewed from The Avengers volcano - a superhero gang which Tony Stark/Iron Man is basically the front-runner of - and the five announcements Marvel just made at Comic-Con, I feel that it's worth pointing out something: majority of these people don't actually like Iron Man, noooo, don’t be silly, it’s Robert Downey Jr. they like. You see, Hollywood is a treasure-trove of oh-so clever trickery and manipulation, so much so that it has managed to turn people who have never even picked up a comic book into ravenous comic book fanatics! Personally, I think I've read maybe two comics and one graphic novel in my entire life, all of which were given to me, but that fact has somehow never stood in the way of me knowing and loving a cornucopia of printed superheroes, and it’s all thanks to Hollywood churning superhero after superhero through their monetising-machine I like to call ‘Marvelwood’.

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Tony Stark? Who the fuck is Tony Stark? You mean Robert Downey Jr., right, in the red metal suit? Oh yeah...Tony 'Downey Jr.' Stark. That’s how people know the character, not that I can blame anyone. The actor himself is a handsome, funny and charismatic guy, which actually speaks to his success because ultimately the characters he plays in his movies are a pseudo-version of himself as far as I can see, especially in his post-cocaine career. Now, pile on top of that an incredibly smart and incredibly rich character that is part-machine, owns his own collection of shiny sports cars, speaks to a computer system like it’s a pal of his (which I’d say he created) and has a fucking terrorist kill-count under his belt, and suddenly Marvelwood have created the quintessential everyman, and what boy doesn't want to be the everyman, and what girl doesn’t want to be with the everyman? Needless to say, Downey Jr. is basically Tony Stark, minus the creepy ex-con thing, and Tony Stark is Iron Man. Christ, maybe the idea to put him into a Marvelwood flick came before Iron Man was even on the table.

If you’re one of my three regular-readers, you would’ve noticed that this is my second superhero movie blog, the last of which being so recent in fact that it’s probably still sitting on this page. It’s a touch out-of-character for me considering I’m actually not that big a fan of the film-genre in question, but the last one spoke about how I feel that the Batman character is being butchered by faux-fans, the core of which speaks to my sentimentality and love of Batman. No, love’s not an over-statement; I really do love Batman, so much so that if Bruce Wayne asked me for some post-distress nookie, I’d ask how deep. But it has nothing to do with the comic books, what it does involve however is the fact that as a child I became very well acquainted with Tim Burton’s Batman series and the subsequent blasphemy that followed. Had Burton not picked up the megaphone and made those two films, Batman to me would have just been some cheesy television series from when my folks were kids and a cartoon they show on Saturday mornings while I played soccer, but thanks to Marvelwood (or if you're a stickler for details - DCwood), I grew to adore a comic book character without ever reading a comic book.

More to the point, something that draws a line between Iron Man and Batman for me, and I trust many others, is that my adoration has nothing to do with the actor playing Batman. As the caped-crusader, I love Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, Val Kilmer and George Cl…sorry, was trying to make a joke there, but I threw up all over myself; I even enjoy Kevin Conroy voicing him in the cartoons. In simpler terms, it’s Batman I’m going to see, not an actor in his outfit.

Could this Batman mentality translate to Iron Man? Long answer: noooooo waaaaay! In fact, I'm willing to bet that when Marvelwood reboots Iron Man, and that’s something of a ‘when’, there will be a group of people, probably the same age I will be, who will cry tears of blood over the fact that somebody else is playing Tony Stark. How well the new actor portrays him, how effectively he makes teen girls tremor in their seats, how much of a thespianic-genius he is will mean absolutely nothing, because people who are like me who watched Favereu’s Iron Man before picking up an Iron Man comic will identify Tony Stark with Robert Downey Jr., and seeing somebody else fill those shoes will be an utter travesty in their sweet, sweet eyes. Now, I’m not disputing the fact that there are some true fans out there, but mark my words, players - Iron Man’s success has very little to do with Iron Man.

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