I'm not sure if the new razzle-dazzle IRON MAN qualifies as a conservative or liberal movie. They tried hard, it seems, to split the difference.
For instance, during the early scenes in which the evil terrorists in Afghanistan take Tony Stark (hotshot weapons manufacturer and war profiteer) hostage, I am not at all sure the numerous ill-behaved, noisy suburban brats behind me understood that this was not how all dark-skinned Muslims behave. His ally during captivity is a lighter-skinned, well-educated, erudite sort (played by Shaun Toub), while the bad guys are all dark, dirty and mean. I felt uncomfortable with that, and would have found it necessary to editorialize if I had brought small children to the movie.
At one point during these early scenes, the ally complains he doesn't understand what the terrorists are saying because they are speaking in Hungarian. Hungarian? Obviously, someone on the set complained and they decided to throw that in for those of us who might complain all the terrorists are Arabs.
Later in the movie, we learn the situation is not as we thought (and nicely done, I must say!), but I don't think the younger kids behind me could fully understand the twists and turns of the plot. Jeff Bridges (great villain performance, bravo! Good movie villains are hard to come by, and Kevin Spacey really disappointed me in SUPERMAN RETURNS) morphs into the the villain in a deliciously-greedy fashion and we discover he has hired the terrorists to kidnap Stark and take over Stark Industries. But doesn't this mean the Arabs are still mindless and evil, just that they are working for an American instead? Is terrorism for American dollars and weaponry supposed to be better than terrorism for some supposedly righteous cause?
The Man of Few Words comments on the trailer:
Ok, I have to be honest. Iron Man’s alter ego, Tony Stark got rich off of developing weapons to massacre Vietnamese peasants for the US government. So in essence he is providing weapons to evil terrorists while his antagonist happens to be doing the same albeit to a different breed of terrorists. Unfortunately, this movie doesn’t seem to be taking that sort of interpretive direction and so America of course represents all that is good while beards and turbans represent the kind of evil that cannot be allowed to play with expensive toys.I also decided to go snooping in National Review Online, to see what the right wing is saying about the movie. Peter Suderman writes:
Avi Arad, the head of Marvel Studios, was born and raised in Israel and so perhaps the sophisticated characterization (caricatures) of Muslims has roots in his own origins.
In all fairness, without more information I can’t encourage Muslims to start a ruckus and boycott this film while complaining loudly. I would have to wait for critical reviews in order to make a sound judgment but I would like to let people know that this is an issue and warn them not to be seduced by two heavily armed automatons tossing exploding vehicles at one another. Racism, bigotry and stereotypical movie making should not be supported no matter how potentially cool the special effects are.
I’ll update you the more I learn. (*EDIT: Here is his later review, May 6th)
After his escape from their clutches, Stark quickly develops a hatred of war profiteering and the military-industrial complex (which, if the movie is to be believed, his company leads). This might make things a little more clear, except that he continues to delight in building outlandish weaponry and deploying it against the sneering Afghan baddies. Only in Hollywood can you charge millions of people ten bucks to gape for hours at extravagant gee-whiz weaponry while simultaneously decrying capitalism and U.S. militarism.He has a point.
And I'm curious: Who decided women in comics must have alliterative names? Possibly a holdover from the alliterative "Perils of Pauline"? Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Vicki Vale, Linda Lee, and Gwyneth Paltrow plays the perky Pepper Potts. (Exceptions to this rule include Spiderman and Mary Jane, and Captain America's love, aptly named Betsy Ross.) Also--check out Gwyneth's amazing 7-8 inch stilettos; I can't believe anybody can walk in such shoes, much less deliver lines. When she has to haul ass in a hurry, they only shoot her from the knees up (obviously, she has switched to her Nikes) and then when she stops running, back to the stilettos. (I hope no little girls try running on stilettos at home.)
I am a huge Robert Downey Jr fan, as I have said before, and he really cooks in the role. Too bad they never give Oscars for superhero roles, because he is just plain fabulous. Maybe this will be the first? As Bob Mondello at NPR commented: "If every superhero franchise had a Robert Downey Jr., the genre might actually be watchable again."
And there were two winks at the 12-Steps in the movie; two quotes lifted wholesale from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Did anyone else catch those? It was very nice, as if he was waving just to us.
We love you too, man.