Friday, January 19, 2007


What's a geek to do?

As a long-time, hard core comics guy, I've been pretty excited the last few years, as some of the best heroes, villains, and assorted sidekicks from the Marvel and DC Universes have made their way to the big screen and plasma screen alike. Super-heroes have been big business out here in LA, so much so that you can actually read comics and graphic novels in public without having to worry about someone seeing you do it.

On the contrary, out here they want to make sure you're not developing a super-hero that they haven't heard of yet

Mostly, the comics movies of the late 90s and early 00s have been decent. I liked the Spider-man films a lot; Batman Begins was amazing; and the X-Men films and Superman Returns were OK. It's a long, long way from the kind of dreck that we used to see.

Anyone remember SUPERMAN IV: QUEST FOR PEACE? Or the TV show NIGHT MAN?

But now Marvel Comics' armored hero IRON MAN is set to make it to the big screen, and I'm in a quandry. It's not out till 2008, but I don't know, folks. Should I bother?

Here's what has me all bothered:

* The film stars Robert Downey Jr. as corporate CEO/alcoholic turned super-hero Tony Stark/Iron Man. While Downey's without question a good actor, I previously took an ethical stand to not support him or the movies he's in. I usually try to be true to these ethical stands. As it is, I'm still not seeing movies with most of the cast of THE FAMILY STONE. Not to mention John Leguizamo.

I mean, seriously, does he look like Damon Bradley from ONLY YOU?

Never mind. I guess he does, a little.

Why the hate with Downey? Mostly because the guy got furloughs from prison when he was doing time for drug and gun charges. It's not that I don't think he's a good actor, it's that he got special treatment from the so-called system because he's a celebrity. If he had been getting out of jail to do PSAs for kids and malcontents.

But no. He was doing episodes of Ally McBeal. Not quite the same thing, is it?

And again, I wouldn't have hated the system for doing that - if they were willing to extend the same courtesy to a guy (or lady) who works the pickup window at Wendy's but who finds himself or herself in jail for the same drug and gun charges. If Dave Thomas (or his heirs) were calling, and the court would let someone out to give you a large Frosty, then Downey's forgiven.
Wait, what? They're not doing that for the Frosty guy? They're not? Really?

Well, then, the ethical stand is still there.
* Compounding matters is that the female lead in this thing has just been cast. It's Gwyneth Paltrow. I don't have an ethical stand when it comes to Gwyneth, but I do view her inclusion as a strike against a film.

But how can you say that, Wieland?

Easy. I saw BOUNCE and RUNNING WITH SCISSORS. In the theater. And while I liked Paltrow in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, SE7EN, and a few other flicks, I just have some trepidation.

* And yet here's the other side of the argument. Big fan of co-star Terrence Howard, who's playing Iron Man's buddy Jim Rhodes. Those comic fans out there will remember Rhodes even became Iron Man for a while in the books while Stark (the character played by Downey) was on a bender. Howard's great, so that probably undoes my lingering Paltrow worries.

I'm also a really big fan of director Jon Favreau. I've liked all his work so far as both an actor and director, and it's no stretch to say he was the best part of his previous Marvel Comics film. Yeah, that was DAREDEVIL. Notice how I didn't mention DAREDEVIL in the good comics movies above?

* Final complication. I just don't know if I think Iron Man will make a good movie. A drunk rich guy without the intensity of Bruce Wayne, who flies around in an expensive piece of military armor and fights a stereotypical Asian villain called The Mandarin.

That's right. The Mandarin.

So I'm stumped. Anyway, here's some information about the movie:

Why can't it just be an easy decision, like whether I'll go see Nic Cage in GHOST RIDER.

Wow, that does not look good.

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