Movie Title: Iron Man 2
Review by Jonathan McMillan
Studio: Marvel Studios
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johansson
Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language.
Bottom Line: 4/5
You shouldn’t have to be a fan of comic books to enjoy a certain type of movie, but rather a well made movie like “Iron Man 2” can make you a fan of the source material.
I’ll let you in on a little secret - I’m a com-bo fanboy. For those who don’t know what that means; comic books are my guilty pleasure. From my pre-teens to my mid-twenties I collected various comics like The X-Men, The Avengers and Spider-Man. I’m a regular visitor to Marvel.com and keep up with the current comic storylines by reading Wikipedia and various websites dedicated to the events and happenings of the comic book world.
So with all that said, let me tell you, I loathe most live-action adaptations of comic book series'. Just a couple of recent examples off of a long list of what I consider bastardized film versions of graphic novels would be the entire “X-Men” franchise and the “Superman Returns” movie from a few years ago.
There are a couple of inherent problems with making a first-rate movie based on any major comic book that few studios or directors take time to solve. If they attempt to cut corners and not address these issues, the movie will ultimately fail.
However, a quality movie that appeals to both diehard comic book fans and casual movie goers can be made without butchering the source material. As with any film, the right combination of writing, direction and acting can keep a movie from being pigeonholed the into direct-to-video category and move it into summer blockbuster fare like the 2008 movies “Iron Man” and Christopher Nolan’s hugely successful “The Dark Knight”.
As with most pieces of literature (comics or otherwise) that are adapted for film, Hollywood usually dumbs down the subject matter in hopes of drawing in a wide range of movie goers and huge box office returns.
The other unavoidable problem with making a successful film based on long running, iconic comic book characters and or groups like “The Amazing Spider-Man”, “The Uncanny X-Men” The “Invincible Iron Man” is how do you condense 40+ years of story lines and character development into a simple but comprehensive and contemporary piece of entertainment that’s only 90 minutes (or so) long in a way that is pleasing to both diehard long term fans and the broader audience which is just looking for a good movie? Just writing that sentence suggests how complicated the question is.
The solution to both of theses problems is first finding a studio that is understanding of the intricacies and complexities of making a comic book movie to finance the film, like Marvel Comic’s own Marvel Entertainment Inc. and recruiting skilled screenwriters to adapt the source material and putting an accomplished director in charge who understands both his subject matter and it’s fans, plus the general entertainment needs of those not so devoted to the com-bo subculture.