Friday, May 16, 2014

The Marvel Universe & Tony Stark's Eyes

*don't worry, baby. this'll be over before you know it and you won't feel a thing*

   It's no secret that I'm a HUGE fan... Scratch that... nerd for the Marvel movie universe. I've watched them all several times, minus The Incredible Hulk, which I still liked and all, but I'm also one of those 3 or 4 people who really loved Ang Lee's HULK,
     -the first episode of my podcast, Poxyclypse Movie Night, is dedicated to this movie. End of shameless plug-
 I didn't care for the idea of rebooting it or the decision to replace Eric Bana with Edward Norton. 
   He did a fine job but remember, these are the rantings of a nerd. I DID like the couple of tie-ins that were sprinkled in to connect it to The Avengers later on, but, all in all, it could've easily been a sequel to the first one. It even picks up where that one left off, but they washed over all those events in the opening credits to show the audience that, yes, this was, in fact, a reboot. 

   This ain't about that.

   I just got finished watching IronMan again (it's been a couple years on that one) and it was cool to be reminded that Tony Stark wasn't always a badass superhero. When he's first introduced, he's a billionaire playboy, weapons designer. He's a rockstar to the military and a target for liberal journalists wanting to make a name for themselves by attacking him with embarrassing questions about his work. In the example of this we're given, he deals with the problem by sleeping with the journalist.
 He's THAT dude, and you can see it in his eyes. He is aware of his surroundings the way a pop star is aware. He knows all eyes are on him. He knows where the cameras are. He knows where the pretty girls are. He knows who wants to fuck him and who wants to fuck with him. He knows that wherever he goes, there will be people who's best interest is to not let anything happen to him and he behaves as such.
   We all know what happens to him and how, by the end of the movie, he's somewhat of a changed man. He's still every bit the rockstar (you HAVE to be one to stand in front of an important press conference and announce that you are IronMan) but he's vowed to stop manufacturing weapons and dedicate his life to helping the world instead of arming it. There's a seriousness in his eyes that didn't exist before. He's aware of one more thing than before: accountability.
   But that's all within the first film. The second one is good enough, but doesn't feel as important in the way of progressing the character.
   By the third film, we've now had the first Avengers team-up and Tony's eyes are the eyes of a completely different person. 
   The schmuck who once knew he could say anything to anyone and somebody else would be happy to put out the fire has given way to the hero who intercepted a nuclear warhead aimed at the heart of New York City and guided it through a wormhole and into an alien mothership, essentially ending a full-scale invasion.
   He has looked into the abyss and just barely returned. He now has anxiety attacks and dreams nightly of that glimpse into another dimension. He knows that he escaped only through sheer luck, unconsciously falling back through the opening at the exact moment that it was closing. One second later and he would've been trapped on the other side, never to be seen again, dying in the vacuum of space, countless light years from home.
   He is not a god of Asgard. 
   He is not a gamma-ray mutation.
   He is not a genetically enhanced supersoldier.
   He's a super smart rich guy who built a technological marvel that he uses to combat those who would threaten the world he feels responsible for... and Pepper Potts. You want a heat-seeking missile up your ass, all you gotta do is mess with Pepper.

   That's all. No big secret reveal. It's just one of many tiny details that keeps me enthralled by this universe. 
   I read a few random comics as a kid, but having very limited exposure to them, by the time I was in a position where I could possibly start to keep up, it seemed like such a daunting undertaking that I never did. Where to start? There were already an infinite number of stories, characters, continuing plot lines, cross-overs... You name it.
   I skimmed the surface with the cartoons, a graphic novel compilation here and there and, finally, the movies. I've heard some complaints from fanboys about inconsistencies and omissions but ignorance is bliss and I have become a fanboy myself. These are my stories. 
   There are some slight inconsistencies just within the movie universe as well. I don't care. The big picture is like one epic saga with no end in sight and I'm giddily along for the ride. 
   The Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. tv series serves as a smart, fun wrap-around to this universe and has solidified Agent Phil Coulson as one of the most interesting characters in these stories and it's a thrill to go back and rediscover his ever-present participation in all of this; even more so than Nick Fury.

   There I go, wandering off the subject again, in a driveling fanboy haze. What was I even getting at here?
   Oh yeah. Tony Stark. 
   In The Avengers, he's at the top of his game. He knows who's watching and he knows they all know what he's capable of. He's surrounded by the closest thing he has to peers and facing the biggest, most profound threat that humanity has yet to face. He's sticking his chest out and doing what he does best... with style.
   In IronMan 3, he is at first weary and somewhat shaken by the experiences of his previous outing and finally, humbled by a seemingly unstoppable force that gains the upper hand through his own arrogance.
   All of these developments are illustrated perfectly, in an arc that began in 2008 (as far as Tony's story goes, anyway) and continues to grow with another installment coming in May of 2015. I, for one, will be eagerly awaiting it's arrival, to see where this universe will take me next.

Peace, or the extreme lack there-of,