Tony Stark is every adolescent male’s wet dream: a billionaire genius gearhead who makes cool weapons, drives cars with names that end in i, and gets babe after ungettable babe, so many of them he can’t remember them a week later. Then one day after blowing up half a mountain range while demonstrating a powerful new missile in Afghanistan, he sees US soldiers shot to pieces by Stark Industries weapons and is captured by forces led by the menacing Raza (Faran Tahir, soon to be seen in Star Trek), who directs Stark to build missiles for him in the terrorists’ underground hide-out. Stark pretends to comply, but with the aid of a fellow captive he builds instead a prototype of the Iron Man armor and crashes out, returning to the States where he’s reunited with his Lamborghinis; his aide, Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow); and his partner in crime, Obadiah Stane (a bald, bearded, and slightly porcine Jeff Bridges). This sequence, culminating with Stark donning a sexier version of the Iron Man armor and returning to Afghanistan to wreak vengeance on Raza and put on display his newly developed conscience regarding the scummy nature of his business, is admittedly entertaining—you’re carried along by a mix of snappy one-liners and action, and given no time to think. But once Stark becomes a force for good and the real villain of the piece is “revealed,” the momentum of the picture begins to dissipate.
There’s a reason for that. People love these movies because they illuminate the myths of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Oh, please! They aren’t myths. They’re wish-fulfillment fantasies for fourteen-year-olds . . . and primitively mounted ones at that. Then again, maybe you’re right. It’s a desperate age we live in, with a devalued intellectual currency. Maybe these are all the myths we’ve got . . . or the only myth, because they all tell the same basic story and have the same underlying purpose, to make the real world go away.
Linked that last bit just for you, Grant (angriest), to inspire you on thesis of Superheroes as the 20th Century Myth, which I expect to be seeing and arguing with soon.