Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Focus, Dammit!

OK, now even I'm confused (shaddup!). And yes, this is about Iron Man.

There are, near as I can tell, 5 different Iron Men characters that Marvel is propagating around the pop culture landscape.

1) Ultimate Iron Man. As seen in the Ultimates, and in the Ultimate Avengers DVDs, this is Ultimate Tony Stark being all Ultimatey and stuff. Since nobody but me read Orson Scott Card's Ultimate Iron Man series, I can't really say that the fact that he's essentially a genetically engineered living brain (I'm not kidding) plays into the character as a whole (and it's certainly not mentioned anywhere outside that series, so there).

2) 616 Iron Man. I don't need to say more about this than I have already, except that if you've ever wanted to see Iron Man killing his friends, acting the government stooge, and being manipulated by public opinion into declaring war on Captain America and Spider-Man, then this is the Iron Man for you. Mind you, this is supposed to be a good guy, to hear Marvel tell it.

3) Marvel Adventures Iron Man. The all-ages comic portrays a "classic" Iron Man, mostly devoid of personality but gets enough of the heroics part right to feel not as off as the rest of these guys. Plus, he plays "FunStation" with Spider-Man, as opposed to trying to repulsor a hole through his chest. And you wonder why I read this comic.

4) The Invincible Iron Man, Marvel's latest animated movie, which looks more like Crouching Script, Hidden Budget than anything else. Go view the trailer here. I watched it, and all I know about it is that it'll probably have the Mandarin, lots of Chinese stuff, maybe some Fin Fang Foom, aNOTHER new origin for Tony, and camera angle from behind and beneath a pair of bare ladies' legs looking at Tony.

(The weird thing is that the trailer pauses on that leg shot and cuts the music; I guess the intended effect was to make you stop and say, "Whoa! Don't forget, the Iron Man, he likes the ladies!", but the actual effect was to make me say, "Damn, that's a little creepy and fetishistic. Is this safe for work?"

I don't think this is going to be very good.

5) The Iron Man movie, which allegedly has aNOTHER tweaked origin, and God knows how it's going to portray Ol' Shellhead. Although I'm probably stupidly optimistic.

So, I'm confused. Which version does Marvel want me to like? Do we need 5 versions of Iron Man running around? And why don't any of them feel right to me? Is it that hard to write Iron Man? Doesn't anybody at Marvel have any back issues? David Michelinie's phone number? Len Kaminski's e-mail address? It can't be this hard.

I know, I know, quit my bitching. I'm lucky they haven't killed him off ye--- oh, wait. We haven't seen Civil War #7 yet.

Sometimes I hate being an Iron Man fan.


Anonymous conner o'carol said...

You wrote:

"Which version does Marvel want me to like?"

Well, which one do you like?

I personally like the 616 version. I will also like when he gets his ass handed to him sometime in the near future.

I can care less for the others since the 616 has an established identity complete with character flaws.

I think having a super-hero with a belief so absolute is unique. I think only villians are those with absolute views.

Perhaps he will become or has become some sort of superhero/villian hybrid.

3:06 PM  
Blogger The Fortress Keeper said...

Don't worry. Marvel hates you too.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Conner: Understood; I guess the real answer to my question is "the old Iron Man", but what I was trying to get at is, "Does Marvel have any sort of idea what brand/identity/positioning they want Iron Man to have, or are they just throwing stuff at the wall because they don't have a real idea of who he is?"

Fortress: Yeah. They do.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, wow, that pause is just a hair too long.

It's funny how at half a second it's "ooh, a lady" and at a full second it's just flat out creepy.

And no, I don't think Marvel has ANY idea who Iron Man is, or rather, which interpretation of Iron Man will actually sell. His ill-defined nature (in their eyes) is what allowed him to become the villain--I'm sorry Joe--antagonist of Civil War. Because there aren't enough fans out there to say that ISN'T Iron Man.

...except, of course, you!

4:39 PM  
Blogger Captain Qwert Jr said...

Iron Man is an adult, with an adult job, adult relationships with the opposite sex, and an adult outlook on life.

Surely you must see why the editors at Marvel find him baffling.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Van Doom said...

I swear, I read Ultimate Iron Man. It was only that first issue, right? None ever came out after that, right? After I waited for months, every week checking the racks?

To further that point then, technically aren't there actually six Iron Men (Mans?). Because the regular Ultimate Iron Man is totally different from his origin in the actual Ultimate Iron Man series, that's two separate things.

It's times like this I'm glad I don't give a crap about Iron Man.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Nick said...

Dude CW #6 hasn't even come out yet, bitching is fully acceptable. Speaking of which did you see the editors' note in the lastest issue of Amazing Spider-Man, ugh.

12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot ultimate alliance Iron-Man.

1:57 AM  
Blogger joncormier said...

Maybe Marvel had Black Sabbath's Iron Man on the shared music folder and everyone listened to it just that one time too many?

7:04 AM  
Blogger SallyP said...

At the moment the Ultimate Tony is the only one that I can even tolerate. 616 Tony is such a fascist that I've given up reading him entirely. Which is kind of a shame, since I always thought that the mustache was kind of cute.


12:46 PM  
Anonymous Ron said...

Don't forget the Zombie Iron Man!

11:18 AM  
Anonymous SanctumSanctorumComix said...

Actually, I think that animated movie looks... kinda cool.

Not like the DOCTOR STRANGE animated movie trailer that I've seen.

Now THAT looks like crap.

You think it's hard being a shell-head fan?


try being a DOCTOR STRANGE fan.

He/we gets NO love.


But, I can sympathize with you.


3:58 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

I remember reading 5 issues of Ultimate Iron Man. It didn't suck. So you weren't the only one.

Iron Man began as Marvel's "establishment hero." He was deliberately designed to embody everything "the kids" claimed to hate- he was a tool of the military-industrial complex and a tycoon. (Stan Lee, Excelsior, p. 160). So they've cast him as the ultra-establishment type in Civil War. But because (IMO) the writer of that series is kind of dumb, they've made Iron Man stick to his position long past the bounds of reason.

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

Ultimate Iron Man, if alcoholic and egotistical, at least seems like an okay guy trying to do the right thing despite his inner demons. So I guess he gets my vote.

I'm torn on what to do with 616 Tony at this point. Personally, I'd like for them to just kill him off, maybe with at least some dignity, like Hal Jordan got in "The Final Night". I know it's not going to happen, but that's what I'd do.

Well, actually, what I'd really like is for Civil War Tony to have turned out to be a plant -- a clone or a robot or something -- or perhaps mind-controlled by Ultron. But Marvel's way too pretentiously invested in Civil War, so I doubt we'll get that, as it would be perceived as copping out.

8:10 PM  
Blogger John said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Justice said...

I am so glad you put blog this up. I want to see Iron Man's Origin handled the way Frank Miller did Batman: Year One. He nailed it so well, that they used large chunks in the re-start for Batman.

Toot my own horn: http://iron-man-movie.blogspot.com and
http://ironmanscript.blogspot.com .

Frankly, I see a young man who's had everything handed to him on a silver platter losing it all (even health) in a South East Asian kidnapping by terrorists. This honors the original origin and "updates" it without ret-conning it to death. (My fave update was in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man when the thief Peter Parker doesn't stop is the very one who steals Uncle Ben's car, killing him in the process.

BETTER than the original story and logical. Same event Stan Lee wrote, just handled better.

Anyway, I think Iron Man should be a wealthy man who's finally catching on he NOT invincible and it creates a responsible compassion. He gets involved with people's lives where as BEFORE he was just all about his inventing prowess and what he could get out of life. Sort of Bill Gates/Howard Hughes meets Bono, NEW Bill Gates.

He's learning life is hard. So he becomes a hero.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous carla said...

Now, imagine if you will, a wide eyed little girl who likes robotic armor suits, checked out a few old back issues and knows enough to rattle off a fair approximation of the Iron Man origin to customers. Picture picking up all of the aforementioned versions and trying to not only sort them all (why is this one a kid covered in blue? why does this one date everyone from an E! Hollywood report? and which one is the hero?), but trying to find one that she likes.

I'm going to have to tap your brain soon, sir, for I want to type up a simple user's guide to Iron Man for blog@newsarama and I don't even know where to start. Thanks Civil War.

12:43 PM  

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