Tag Archives: Marvel

Iron Man Three

That’s the official title. I like it.

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So, after the disappointing second act Iron Man 2 and the glorious team up feature The Avengers, Iron Man Three was always going to be a challenge but it seems to be one that writer/director Shane Black attacks with aplomb. In much the same way that Toy Story 2 is just a meaningless retread of the first part but the third, even though it reuses some familiar themes and concepts, is a vastly superior film, so too is this picture, which sees Tony Stark face personal demons nastier than he could ever find in a whiskey bottle. While I was tentative to warm to yet another Tony-Off-The-Rails story, Black’s deft narrative and feckless, exciting style makes it all feel fresh and, most importantly, makes Tony feel vulnerable.

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Fans’ fears that this film may try to circumvent the tricky issue of integrating the story of the Avengers into Tony’s life were quite unfounded – in fact, the Iron Man’s entire dilemma is forged by his inescapable feeling of fragility and mortality when faced with the mind-boggling events he’s witnessed; other worlds, aliens, gods and monsters. RDJ shines here as man who has seen things, subject to dangerous bouts of anxiety when reminded of “New York” ,secluding himself in his Bat-Cave to tinker away at his armour. Armour as cocoon metaphor only begs for it to be torn away  to strip him to his fundamentals and that’s where are nefarious villains come in.

He literally tells women in Pakistan that they are "Free to go". Thanks, Obama!

He literally tells women in Pakistan that they are “Free to go”. Thanks, Obama!

Sir Benjy Kingsley is actually damned good as the arch-terrorist and Osama stand-in, the Mandarin. The character’s history as a “Yellow Peril” racist caricature actually opens up some interesting avenues for the film’s writers and, in the face of recent events, the film takes some turns that are genuinely cleverer and not as black-and-white as they initially may seem. No spoilers, but the plot’s progression had me grinning. Even so, imaged of Don Cheadle as a Star-Spangled death robot, literally called War Machine, pointing guns at women in burqas in Pakistan are problematic…very problematic. You get the feeling there are smarts at work but they can’t escape the corporate machine, for all their notions.

But I’m getting too political, and this film asks that you don’t as it is A LOT funnier and less dour than both the trailers and I have made out. Even the opening credits will have you in bits. You’ll regularly be grinning from ear-to-ear as RDJ and co seem to recapture some of the off-the-handle wit and charm the original possessed in such abundance. This is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang but with repulsors and jet-boots and it makes the technologically wondrous world of Tony Stark get its mojo back, which after three outings was beginning to flag. Even the much reviled cliche of the special kid the hero befriends is turned on its head in delightful, inventive ways and with straight-faced black humour, pun intended.

Unfortunately, the biggest caveats with this film are leftovers from the last one: robot fatigue and Gwenyth Paltrow. Now it’s true that the entire supporting cast is underwhelming, especially an underused Guy Pierce as new baddie Aldritch Killian, Paltrow has been a consistent source of discord within the entire franchise. She never seems to click with Tony and she often carries of as if she’s in a completely different film. It doesn’t help that Pepper is so two-note and under-written. So, there’s that.

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And the suits. For five minutes it’s a kid’s wet-dream (weird image) to have all these suits and armours and robots but if we’ve learned anything from Transformers it’s that less is more and more is mess. There are some fucking great set-pieces, which unlike the Avengers, have a real, palpable sense of peril to them including the Malibu home destruction and a heart-stopping rescue a thousand miles in the air. But after a few hours, the more CGI and lack of physical danger it all starts to lose its punch and we’re back to watching cartoons fight. The film soars in its Shane Black quips and punchlines, as well as in its emotional journey for Tony, but it has issues with its tired action and weak villains.

The point of the last film was that unmanned robot suits might be a bad idea. This film neatly forgets that because toys.

The point of the last film was that unmanned robot suits might be a bad idea. This film neatly forgets that because toys.

Without spoiling nattin’ I’ll say that this film really brings some closure to the Iron Man franchise and is a fitting send off for the series, though not the character. Unlike 2, Three actually feels like its own animal and not just a glorified trailer for the Avengers. You won’t even notice that Sam Jackson doesn’t even pop his head in to sit around and eat chips with Black Widow like they did in 2. Iron Man Three actually has things for its heroes to do, fortunately. You’ll cringe, you’ll gasp, you’ll titter alot. You won’t really care all that much but that’s always been the appeal. It’s good popcorn and Shane Black should just write the Avengers III or something. That’d be fun lots.

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Oh boy! You stayed for the post-credit sequence! Well, in true Iron Man from if you wait til the end you’ll get a cross-film teaser but this one is more of a Shwarma moment than a Thanos one. One clue:

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Science Bros!

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Great Scotts! DC’s Closet Come-out Cop-out

So after weeks of theorising, posturing and conjecture among the comic-book community over which DC stalwart was going to come out of the fictional closet the answer has finally been revealed. James Robinson, author of DC’s new Earth 2 book, has momentously announced that the “major” and “iconic” previously straight character is……Alan Scott!

You know…Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern!

THE Alan Scott!

Of course you fucking don’t.

I only know who he is because of late-night wikipedia binges in my early teens, living in rural Ireland with nary a comic-book shop in sight and the joys of downloading them still a mystery to me so I had to rely on simply reading about them. Reading anything to sate my appetite. Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, was created during the super-hero Golden Age of the 1940s and whose powers came from a magic Chinese Lantern full of mysterious Oriental energy that he found down a subway, or something.  As the super-heroes’ popularity began to fade during the 50s the character started his first trip into obscurity and was eventually replaced by the Silver-Age reboot; the slick, daring fighter pilot/intergalactic beat-cop Hal Jordan – the Green Lantern that we know and love. That is if audiences even know of Green Lantern. After being replaced Scott’s stories were relegated to the parallel continuity universe of Earth-2, a retirement home of sorts for the super-people of the Golden Age where the characters were actually allowed to age, reproduce and die (sometimes indefinitely) with the Justice Society of America. Though I think this is a neat concept any and all of these events have been wiped from the multiverse canon by numerous Crises, each more permanent and infinite than the next, culminating in Superboy punching the Universe so hard it stopped making sense. I’m not kidding.

Find dead horse. Flog. Rinse. Repeat.

Ok, so DC’s chosen bastion of equal rights is a sort of awkward first-try at a Green Lantern that they’ve kept around for shits and giggles and hasn’t fronted his own comic-book for at least sixty years BUT this is the New 52 right? DC comics latest reboot (after the Flash ran so fast the universe…yeah…I don’t even…!) which sees the characters’ slates cleaned and clocks reset. We see Batman and Superman meet for the first time, again! No one’s wearing silly underpants! Aquaman’s got his own comic! So in this universe anything can happen. Could the newly outed Scott be this universes Green Lantern proper, an upstanding citizen, guardian of the Galaxy and serving member of the Justice League?

LOL NO!

Yep, that’s right. He’s not only an ancient, obscure super-hero but he’s been relegated to a parallel universe once again, Earth-2, nicely tucked away under the radar of anyone who isn’t an avid collector of overpriced comic-books. Let’s revisit DC’s Editor-in-chief Dan DiDido’s comments that the hero would be “major” and “iconic”. The Green Lantern is iconic, I guess – but he isn’t Green Lantern. And I’m really not interested in hearing about whatever amazing adventures he’s had in some parallel universe stories from the 80s and how he became a character in his own right because that’s not important. What’s important is DC’s cynical decision to sneakily use the confusion of their continuities to garner tonnes of media interest whilst not actually having to make a truly controversial change. Making Hal Jordan gay might have been something as he’s the most famous Lantern, or Kyle Raynor because who cares? At least he exists in the mainstream continuity – at least he “exists”. Or they had an opportunity to craft a new character (God forbid) as the Lantern role can be passed on the different people. And by people I mean men. DC has no problem doing it when they need to fill their racial diversity quota, as evidenced by Jon Stuart or the ginger Guy Gardener.

This guy’s allowed in the mainstream…Carrot-top, popped-collar, shit-eating grin and all.

So DC can bathe in the publicity as every news outlet, refreshingly out-of-touch with the brain-pulpingly over-complex history of the Green Lanterns and the DC Mulitverse, reports that Green Lantern is now gay, thinking that Ryan Reynolds may have to readjust his relationship with Blake Lively when Hollywood inevitably farts out a Green Lantern 2 that nobody asked for. And from the outside it looks like DC wins the Equality war with rival Marvel Comics who just recently featured their first gay wedding between Northstar, the first openly gay superhero in American comics, and his boyfriend. Both could be said to be cynical sales moves, designed to cash in on a hot-button issue, garner attention and to move product but Marvel’s is arguably a more natural evolution for their characters and is more consistent given that Northstar is a mutant and X-Man, a group constantly fighting to be equally represented in their universe.

Marvel’s track-record is a wee bit better on the equality front with Northstar (though he was, at one point, a literal fairy) but they also featured major and iconic characters changing sexual orientation in a parallel universe ten years ago with Colossus in Ultimate X-Men. But it wasn’t a publicity stunt, it was just this Peter Rasputin’s sexual orientation sans bells, whistles and press releases. His being gay was secondary to the fact that his skin could turn into steel and he could punch buildings.

They did, however, give him a wee earring but this was like 2002 so it was all very Justin Timberlake back then.

What would have been preferable? Well, at the very least someone who exists in the mainstream continuity and who is a member of the flagship Justice League. To be honest, most of DC’s heroes are pretty gay. Clark Kent’s bumbling, awkward attempts to fit in as “normal” hide is rather fabulous alter-ego; Wonder Woman, raised in a Matriarchal, women-only island, surely must have a few teenage crushes and relationships before her lesbianism was “cured” by meeting her first man, Captain Steve Cheesepants or whatever. Or Batman? Billionaire playboy with a secret nightlife, a dungeon full of bizarre toys, gadgets and rubber suits, with a penchant for collecting young men. Ok, so those were rather easy targets but what of the simmering bromance between the Flash and Hal Jordan? Yes, yes all too obvious. It seems DC’s heroes are too straight and proper to be given any sexual identity whatsoever, hetero or homosexual – it’s like acknowledging your grandparents have (or had) sex. Ew.

Back in my day I ate guys like you for breakfast!

DC already has a gay lead character in the form of the current Batwoman, which is great, but it’s always been easier to introduce lesbian characters with oversized breasts to a community largely made up of men. What they need is not to ham-fist a change but pick a character whose homosexual identity would gel or bolster with their character already. With Alan Scott, they picked him because his son was gay in the other unimportant universe and they must’ve felt guilty deleting one of their few gay heroes and changed Scott to make up for it. After the announcement many fans theorised that the gay character might turn out to be Tim Drake, the third Robin, due to his string of failed relationships. However, I believe this is only due to the fact that Drake’s a pretty boring straight edged character and writers lose interest in his story with regularity. No, the next gay character should be Batman’s son and current Robin, Damian Wayne.

I love this guy.

Damian was introduced in 2006’s Son of the Bat storyline by Grant Morrison, initially to quite a bit of fan-hate. Son of the world’s greatest detective and a leader of a group of eco-warrior terrorist-ninjas Damian was raised as a child prodigy ninja assassin genius and stirred quite a bit of shit in first few appearances. Basically he’s a nasty condescending little shit who’s hiding a wee bruised heart and a desire to be good much like Artemis Fowl, who gets a name check in Damian’s début issue. He’s a joy to read due to his vitriolic distaste for everyone around him and he’s quite camp – think an older, more violent Stewie Griffin, but he’s also completely bad-ass. He’s only 10 years old but he has such a strong identity and character if he were gay there would be no bones about it, no excuses or awkward realisations. If you had a problem with it he’d detach your jaw with a crow bar. He’s great. As he grows into the role of being a hero, a good guy, he can also grow into his sexual identity, because he’s a very rare thing: a new, popular character who has shown the capacity to change.

All-in-all I’d put DC’s latest bid for attention from the mainstream media along with the “Dumbledore is Gay” event in terms of hollow offerings to the LGBT community. Both were last-minute cop-outs designed to appear as progress but are really just there to satisfy the guilty consciences of authors too afraid to take a chance within their main stories and so make concessions after the fact. I’m a breeder and I find this crap offensive in its banality.

Discuss!

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