Our Film editor Marjorie Baumgarten
brought up on the boards the question of villainry, arguing that the villains are the more interesting characters. History might be on her side – Alfred Molina's tortured Doc Ock
, Gene Hackman's crazy-eyed Lex Luthor
, Al Pacino's hunchbacked Big Boy Caprice
– all of 'em vastly more entertaining than the earnest, sometimes-yawning caped crusaders.
Interesting, then, that two of this summer's superhero movies (well, three, if you count Hancock
) had villains who were mostly negligible. In both the Hulk
reboot and Iron Man
, the big baddies (Tim Roth, Jeff Bridges) basically co-opted our heroes' technology and made themselves bigger, badder versions of the original, which led to curiously flat climaxes – basically loud, clanging choruses of "Anything you can do I can do better."
That said, Iron Man
was a blast – and I do hope you see it today so we can talk some more about it. I think some of your c.b. movie reservations have to do with your perceived adolescent-ness of the superhero, but Iron Man/Tony Stark is fully adult – sexy, sarcastic, existentially conflicted. The film hinges on Stark’s moral crisis about his role in arming the planet – intelligently and soberly reflecting on America’s identity crisis in an (almost!) post-Bush era (although the waterboarding of an American by an Arab was in questionable taste).
– which I thought was the far, far inferior movie – also pivoted on the American military-industrial complex's damaging effects... so maybe the real villain in these pieces isn't the genetically-engineered monster or the egomaniacal CFO but rather our own war-mongering ways?
Uh oh. Did I just open the door for you to rail about American imperialism? Read More | Comment »