Iron Man: My new favourite techno-porn

Even if the climax feels bolted-on -- arf! -- we're prepared to let it go, because until then it's all giddily exuberant action with some impressively physical CGI

One trailer that's never failed to draw a crowd round here lately has been the Iron Man preview. We saw the movie at the weekend, and weren't disappointed.

The problem with comic-book heroes is that the more powerful they are, the more powerful their opponents must be to generate any sense of threat and dramatic tension. Thus, when Spider-Man gets bitten by a spider and gets superpowers, all his antagonists need their own powers, complete with ever-more far-fetched origin stories. In a comic series spread over years, this builds a universe, a mythology. In a series of films, it gets old fast.

For a film where the hero has nobody comparable to scrap with, watch Superman Returns and try to keep your eyes open. For a film where the hero has evenly matched foes shoehorned in, watch the mutant dog things in Hulk and try to keep from cringing. I'm not sure about the Abomination in the upcoming Incredible Hulk either.

So Iron Man needs his Iron Monger, even if the climax feels bolted-on -- arf! We're prepared to let it go, though, because until then it's all giddily exuberant techno-porn with some impressively physical CGI for the various Iron Man suits. Robert Downey Jr is at his off-kilter best as the louche billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark. Jeff Bridges is a great counterweight as the scenery-chewing corporate villain. Come on, that's not a spoiler -- the man is bald with a beard. Pure hirsute villainy, right there.

This balance between hero and villain explains why, for me, Batman works best on film. Certain Cravers bemoan the fact that Batman is just a guy in a suit. But this lessens the need for fantastic origin stories: Batman villains merely need a psychosis and a gimmick -- just like Batman himself.

I say bring on The Dark Knight!

 

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