May 24, 2008

Questions that distracted me while watching the movie "Iron Man."

1. Who is that actor? (I had to hang around for the credits so I could exclaim "Oh, that was Jeff Bridges!)

2. Are we not supposed to know there is such a thing as a closed head injury? (Iron Man — who is an un-super-powered human being inside a high-tech suit of armor — gets slammed into things with intensely violent force, yet emerges from his suit unharmed, not even dazed. Yes, I know it's a comic-book movie. I'm just saying that I was distracted by thinking: That would have killed him.)

***

Googling around, putting together this little post, I ran across The Forbes Fictional 15. Who are the richest fictional characters? Iron Man (Tony Stark) is #10.

29 comments:

J said...

"Are we not supposed to know there is such a thing as a closed head injury?"

No, you're supposed to know normal laws of physics don't apply to superheroes or cartoon characters.

Ann Althouse said...

He's not a superhero, as noted in the post. He's a regular, human-being-type man inside a high-tech suit of armor.

P. Rich said...

I have a long-held belief, bolstered by this piece. It is that [most] women tend to run an internal background dialog regarding the immediate object of attention, whereas men tend to become engrossed in the moment. Women see this male behavior as naive, stupid or both. Ref: couch potato, for example.

This is particularly interesting during sex, when the guy is pretty much engrossed in feeling good and the woman is thinking about his current performance, past and future connections, status of the male, his income potential, long-term possibilities (or not), how her makeup is holding up, and what she is going to tell her girlfriends the next day. This is by no means a complete list of "distractions".

Ann Althouse said...

And some of the laws of physics -- such as ice-formation -- were specifically exploited as big plot points.

George said...

My 11-year-old daughter has seen the movie twice and would go again, if I coughed up the money.

The film takes two (or three) classic American hero types—the Yankee inventor, the outlaw (who has no family), and the playboy—and rolls them into one character. He remorselessly kills terrorists (clearly Hollywoodized al-Qaeda-types), uncovers treason at the highest level, works with the military (but on his own terms), and falls in love with a good girl. And he proves his loyalty to such a degree that he's recruited to work for a covert warfighting agency (in the scene after the credits).

It's one of the best Errol Flynn movies I've ever seen.

campy said...

Women see this male behavior as naive, stupid or both.

Women see all male behavior as naive, stupid or both.

Fixed.

Trooper York said...

Iron man is on of the more conservative Marvel Heros along with Captain America, Nick Fury agent of Shield and the Vision. Siderman is of course the house liberal with all the hangups. And the Hulk just likes to break things. That makes him a boy.

Trooper York said...

Of course conservative is a realtive term in comics but since Tony Stark owns Halliburton I guess we can term him a conservative.

Wait a second. Conservative politics. Bad heart. Owns Halliburton. Holy crap,Dick Cheney is Iron Man. Cool.

Trooper York said...

And that's Spiderman. I type too fast. Siderman is my proctologist.

Maguro said...

Siderman is my proctologist.

Don't you meanAssman?

Fen said...

normal laws of physics don't apply to superheroes or cartoon characters.

Also, every female superhero happens to have the spandex power: D cups without straps that always lift and separate.

Mortimer Brezny said...

He's not a superhero, as noted in the post. He's a regular, human-being-type man inside a high-tech suit of armor.

Well. No. He's not a superhuman. He is a superhero. Batman is not a superhuman, but he is a superhero. Bruce Wayne is supposedly middle-aged in every comic, but if you add together all his backstories, he has to be over eight-hundred years old. He is mortal and has a normal brain, but he has memorized every martial art known to man, trained with Houdini, etc....

And some of the laws of physics -- such as ice-formation -- were specifically exploited as big plot points.

Yes. The whole point is to make the counterfactual world are real as possible so that the surreal elements are more believable. It is a world of Mad Money and broken ribs and class inequality and ice formation, but not one where the superhero sustains a head injury unless it is a plot device that exposes a character flaw.

Yes. It's true. Mortimer used to play sports and read comic books.

Lawgiver said...

1. Who is that actor? (I had to hang around for the credits so I could exclaim "Oh, that was Jeff Bridges!)

My wife and I were watching the movie and wondering the same thing. Who is that guy playing the villan? I could remember his first name was Jeff and that he co-starred with Clint Eastwood in "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" but that's all I could remember. We also stayed to watch the credits. It was one of those "oh yeah" moments, it's Lloyd Bridges' kid! Remember "Sea Hunt?" If I remember right, Lloyd was up for the role as Captain Kirk but lost out to T.J. Hooker.

Joan said...

Women see all male behavior as naive, stupid or both.

Generalize much? Sheesh.

Closed head injury should've made the latest Indiana Jones something like a 45-minute movie with a tragic ending. But, like Tony Stark, Indy is immune to that sort of physical reality. I enjoyed both movies much more than I expected to.

To reduce Jeff Bridges to "Lloyd Bridges' kid" is a travesty. His career has been brilliant -- and fun to watch. Sheila O'Malley's appreciation at the House Next Door is well worth reading if you are really that unfamiliar with Bridges' work. My biggest problem with Iron Man was that it gave Bridges so little to do. He could've played a much more nuanced, ambiguous character and made the movie more interesting; instead he got to climb into a giant robot suit. Still, it was fun to watch.

George said...

"Fearless"

Mesmerizing Peter Weir movie starring Jeff Bridges, with Isabella Rossellini, Rosie Perez, John Turturro, Benicio del Toro, and Tom Hulce. 1993.

About a man who becomes fearless after he survives an air crash. Trailer

A real strawberry.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Wait. There was a scene after the credits? Who does that since Ferris Bueller?

Somebody has to go back and get a shitload of dimes.

Beth said...

1. Who is that actor?

It took me a minute but c'mon, it's the Dude! How can you not recognize that voice?

Ruth Anne, I stayed for the last scene only because I'd seen something about it in a blog. Without spoiling it, I'll just say we should expect a sequel.

Ann, I tend to agree with Mortimer that even the normal human in a costume are meant to be read as superheroes. But there's room for debate: Alan Moore's Watchmen is a good take on the question of what is a superhero.

Lawgiver said...

To reduce Jeff Bridges to "Lloyd Bridges' kid" is a travesty.

Ah poor Jeff, I wonder if Michael Douglas feels the pain whenever anyone refers to him as Kirk's son?

Beth---of course! The Dude, how could I have missed that? The bald head and the full beard totally threw me off.

Beth said...

I was distracted at first by Bridges' resemblance to someone in my memory. I finally realized it was our former governor (and Jindal mentor), Mike Foster.

Trooper York said...

Mort's real name is T'Challa.

Trooper York said...

"Yes. It's true. Mortimer used to play sports and read comic books."

Hey, where is that guy. I would like to hang out with that guy. He sounds like a normal dude. He can post every once in a while. Just sayn'

blake said...

That must've been a fun list to put together.

But...what about Clark Kent/Superman? Superman is his own diamond creation plant. He effectively owns vast acreage at one of the poles (I forget which). He's also got a space station which must have an assessed value in the...hundreds of billions?

Yeah, he doesn't own a company or have an impressive portfolio, but he's a one man industry.

blake said...

Oh, as for the physics thing, yeah, that's annoying. It seems to have started in earnest with the Spiderman movies. I've gotten reluctantly used to it in the past 10 years.

Every super-power apparently carries with it the ability to withstand tremendous amounts of damage. Apparently. I think it's lazy film-making/storytelling but it's probably the way it's gotta be for this generation of movies.

I'm not an expert as Mort seems to be but The Batman was traditionally considered a "hero" not a "Super hero(TM)(C)". At some point, "super hero" became distinguished from "super human".

The first in the new Batman series seems to be fairly mindful of actual physical harm, but that's a big part of that character. I hope they preserve that.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Are we not supposed to know there is such a thing as a closed head injury?

The complexity of Iron Man's suit is far too much to include in a mere movie. Can you explain every secret of the military, or the history of constitutional law casesm, in a mere two hours? I think not.

Obviously a high level of engineering went into keeping his head from falling off, and far be it from us to question. We are like children, toddlers, in the face of God. It looks like magic, but if Tony Stark just sat us down in a cafe in Wisconsin and explained some of the detail, we would know why he still has a head without injury.

Ann: always questioning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. Have faith. (In Tony, not Jesus).

blake said...

Oh, and Jeff Bridges rocks.

I didn't recognize him until he spoke his second sentence.

Bridges followed up The Big Lebowski by being the President in The Contender, an Oscar-worthy performance almost entirely overlooked. He's someone who really seems to do what interests him rather than what will be a big hit.

Tom T. said...

Assume that there is some sort of high-tech gel in the helmet around his head that delays and distributes impact in such a way that head and brain move in concert. Yes, all this does is push the suspension of disbelief down one level, but at least it's a nod toward the issue.

The other physics issue that they ignored is the effect of standing in the midst of a fire while wearing a metal suit. Remember too that the early version of the suit had open eye-holes and rubber gloves. It would have helped credibility a bit if they'd at least acknowledged the need for a cooling system.

dc universe said...

Marvel has two main lines of continuity. (I am simplifying a lot here. I hope fans who are veterans of the crossover wars will forgive me.) There's classical, old-continuity "616" Marvel, containing everything from the early 1960s on, with all the retroactive continuity. That's a tangled web indeed, and it can be hard for new readers to figure it out. And there's the Ultimate line, where the characters all have more modern and usually simplified or scientifically cleaned-up backgrounds.

Typically the movies split the difference, incorporating elements of both Ultimate and old school "616" origins, to make the movies palatable for all readers and good lead-ins for movie fans who want to become new regular readers.

This usually works well. But sometimes you can see the rivets where the two continuities are joined.

Ultimate Iron Man, also known to fans as "blue Tony" was rewritten by science fiction author Orson Scott Card, as a mutant who was super-smart, regenerative, and unfortunately riddled with cancer due to out of control regeneration. His life is rather unpleasant because of this - but there's no problem justifying him being fine after any number of head-on crashes.

Old-school of "616" Tony Stark has the heart problem that readers and writers like so much, since it lends itself to exactly the kind of message about having a heart that we saw in the movie. Hey, I liked it. :) But this Tony has rarely had much of a rationale for being able to survive extreme deceleration. (And in his most recent interpretation, he also has a lousy personality.)

The movie seemed to grab, improve and have fun with all the best loved Iron Man "bits" from any continuity - including "bad heart" Tony's body and ca-raazy crashes that really call for blue Tony's body if you want them to have no consequences.

I can definitely see that this could be distracting for a fair-minded new fan.

I thought it was slightly awkward too, and I'm used to this.

I don't agree that there are no rules for comic book characters in movies. It will forever gripe me that in Hulk (2003) His Hulkitude was getting major grief from three Hulk dogs including a mutant poodle that proved to not be strong enough to break Betty's windshield to get at her. If you are not strong enough to beat in a windshield, you are so, so not strong enough to take on the Hulk. And yes, concern with who is brawnier than who, and who is more durable than who, is part of the genre. It's as old and as perennial as "who would beat who?" arguments.

If you were bothered that Tony was normal enough to get our sympathy for his human frailties, yet on no particular rationale durable enough to get up and walk around after impacts that should have reduced him to spam in a can - welcome to the typical gripes of fandom. :)

Soon you may be arguing, like me, that in a sense the Hulk and Thor are more realistic superheroes than Iron Man, since all bets really are off for a god, and the Hulk has a rationale for being able to survive his leaps, whereas only blue Tony and paralyzed Tony, operating his robot "armor" by long range mind link, fully overcome the "spam in a can" problem.

Try saying it aloud. Say after me: "The Hulk is more realistic."

... :P

Anyway, I hope you are a fan now. This is a very, very good movie. It conveys the swashbuckling thrill of the source material at its best as well as anything I've ever seen on screen.

And Robert Downey Jr. got Tony Stark so right it was ridiculous. (He's going to be able to do both flat out balls to the wall super-extreme hero Tony and badly flawed "demon in a bottle" Tony equally plausibly, with no change at all. Lifetime fans are in raptures, and they should be.)

Joan said...

And Robert Downey Jr. got Tony Stark so right it was ridiculous.

Amen. I'm not a long time fan of Iron Man, but I've been a huge fan of RDjr ever since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It's as if the role were created for him.

blake said...

Joan,

Never seen Chaplin? Hell, you don't even have to watch the whole thing, just the first 20 or so minutes. I think they had to revive Geraldine Chaplin on the set when she saw him.