Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Iron Man blasts off!

I enjoyed Iron Man. I know it’s not saying much since I grew up on DC and Marvel and one does not generally grow out of comics and super heroes. Shellhead (that’s Iron Man to the uninitiated) looks cool. What a blast. So what if it’s formulaic? An irresponsible playboy finds redemption, gives up philandering, turns against the military-industrial complex that made his fortunes, suits up in an out-of-this-world body armour, and becomes a superhero. A serious dose of tech-tonic for geeks and fans.

And did I mention that it also features the granddaddy of punk anthems, Institutionalized by Suicidal Tendencies (Go here for music and lyrics)? It’s, erm, to say the least, an inspired and ironic choice.

Iron Man. Batman. Spider Man. X-Men. Superman. Larger than life superheroics on cinema screens are fueled in part by a cynical world in search of justice and moral impetus. It’s an interesting paradox: where moral clarity is pooh-poohed in the real world in favour of relativism or indifference, audience cheer when cardboard villains get whupped because they so want the good guys to win. At least on screen, there’s no analysis-paralysis. Good guys do what good guys do: they believe there’s a line between good and bad, that it’s possible to tell one from the other, and they’re willing to risk everything to put things right.

And how about this take on the superhero mythos: It acknowledges the powerlessness of ordinary folks to stand up to evil, and instead affirms that brute force wielded by a benevolent Hero is ultimately humanity’s salvation. Hmm.

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