Suiting Up

‘Iron Man' & ‘Redbelt'

I can’t write a fair review of Iron Man because the Spider-Man trilogy has ruined the superhero genre for me. Though Tim Burton’s Batman may have started the trend of showing the “human” side of comic-book champions, Spidey consolidated it. Even in his precinematic comic-book period, he was truly one of Hamlet’s spiritual children, and the movies expanded Peter Parker’s vacillations to the point where (in Spider-Man 3) he realized that the question “To rescue or not to rescue?” could be answered in the negative if a villain had psychological problems better resolved by a psychiatrist than by a biff to the jaw. Consequently, I expect each new superhero film to top the previous one in character complications. Special effects be damned, I want neuroses! I’m hopelessly jaded.

So Iron Man, the digitalized wonderment created by director Jon Favreau and his senior visual-effects supervisor, John Nelson, is perfectly OK, but in the moral-crises department the movie is pretty lame. The hero, Tony Stark, is a weapons mogul, proud of the fact that his creations enable American soldiers to crush terrorists, while protecting themselves and various innocent villagers in Afghanistan. But he is shocked, shocked, to learn that our weapons occasionally fall into enemy hands and are used not only against our own troops but also civilians. Once he invents a supersuit that allows him to fly,...

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About the Author

Richard Alleva has been reviewing movies for Commonweal since 1990.