Before any of you start to freak out, don’t worry this is not going to be a movie review. I understand SPOILERS & how dangerous they can be, so you won’t have to fear that kind of shit from me. I just want to address actor/director Jon Favreau’s upcoming Iron Man flick. Within the halls and corridors of Hollywood it’s widely known that Favreau is an incredibly comic book savvy individual who prefers a “story first” approach to the traditional CGI and teen-sales angle taken on by most studios.
Over the past several years film audiences have been bombarded with comic book hero films and remakes to the likes of which I’m sure no one ever expected. So, because of this massive influx, literally tons of otherwise un-producible movies have been shown the light of day. The sad reality is that at least 75% of all these flicks are wash out teen-action popcorn movies. Now, I know you’re thinking, comic book movies, aren’t they all popcorn movies? Sure there is a youth contingent but you’d be wrong to assume that only kids like comic books or for that matter movies about comics.
It’s this issue that weighs heavily on me, the adult side and so far absent side of big-budget comic book action films. Swinger and new-found badass filmmaker Jon Favreau seems to be willing to breakdown those old and stuffy boundaries that have until very recently plagued the quality and overall potential of these films. I hate to bring up the Star Wars saga because I’m such a fan of the star wars universe but it’s a perfect reference for this conversation. When you look at the initial trilogy as amazing as the effects were when they came out it was the story and creativity of the environments that compelled viewers to see it again and again. The more recent remakes Phantom Menace and so on, are focused more on the CGI worlds and effects, the story has been left at the alter.
I haven’t seen Iron Man (obviously) because it’s not out yet, but we have been exposed to several movie trailers. I must say as trailers go Iron Man has produced one of the best and most enticing trailers I’ve seen in quite some time. The story appears to be at the for front of the film and as truly outstanding as the CGI looks, it’s usage appears to be meticulously interwoven into the fabric of what’s possible in the natural world, just enhanced and amplified because he’s gosh darn Iron Man baby.
I personally believe it’s the comic book enthusiast inside of Favreau that has been leading and directing his ideas about how to use CGI highly effectively, but without letting it monopolize the attention of the audience or negatively affect the quality of the movie. We can look to Spider-Man to see what happens when you overuse CGI and let the story and character development fall by the wayside. In the end no one really cares how realistic or believable a CGI Sand Man looks like, it’s who and how that character is developed and shown to the audience that’s going to payoff or not in the long run.
Chris Nolan has done a masterful job of darkening the tone and enhancing the understanding and complexities of comic book heroes and villains. The Dark Night I’m sure will set a whole new bar for what audiences are going to expect from Hollywood when it comes to comic book flicks. In the past I think the idea was you play to the kids because that’s where all the money is. So we get vibrant and colorful one-sided characters that never develop or show any real measure of believable real-world conflict and emotions. Iron Man seems to be, like TDK, on the cutting edge of what comic flicks should look and feel like. Johnny Favreau has done an awesome job, and I know it will pay major dividends when it’s all said and done.
Which goes to show that 5 or 6 years ago we were only playing for the kids, and now, it’s adults and kids, but the children had better hold on to their hats because characters like Heath Ledger’s Joker and Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man, aren’t your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man any longer. They are much darker and realistic, because when you fight crime or commit it, it has the ability to destroy ones psyche. Just because you can fly or where sweet costumes does not mean you’re immune to the affects of violence and suffering. That’s what makes them seem real and worth caring about.
All images © Marvel Comics/Iron Man/Movie and provided by Wikipedia
Written by Jeff Barrick