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Author
The Mandarin


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,292


> http://www.comicboards.com/php/show.php?msg=ironman-2010081108204825&search=thuggernaut&layout=thread

Comic Stark for much of his history didn't care about anything interesting to the general audience. He cared about his company, and he cared about the lives of soldiers in the abstract.

Very few people can relate to caring about a company. Most people will never see a million dollars in their lives, never mind a billion, so it's hard to make them care about saving a multi-billion dollar company. Oh no, if Stark fails, he'll...still have more money than I'll ever have.

While people do care about the lives of individual soldiers, most can't care about the importance of top-notch gear to those soldiers survival. It's too abstract. Also, it blends with their views on the military industrial complex, which taints what little they care about the subject.

Now I'll examine why Batman and movie Stark both work, despite their similarities to the failed comic Stark.

Batman cares about people with names and faces. He's out to stop murderers and rapists in alleyways. He also cares deeply about his sons, both adoptive and biological, and about his surrogate father Alfred. While he has a company, he's rarely shown to care much about it. It's mostly a plot-device to explain why he has so much time and money to devote to saving individuals with names and faces in dark alleyways.

That's much more relatable to the general audience than caring about billions of dollars or how your equipment will result in statistically ten percent less infantry casualties than your competitors equipment.

(And yes, you can make a case for Stark's big picture thinking saving more lives statistically than Wayne's, but that's completely irrelevant to the subject at hand, which is Stark's popularity with the general audience. This is about emotion, not statistical analysis.)

Batman's grief over his parents is a living thing, a very relatable source of angst.

The assassination of Stark's parents by Roxxon has been completely forgotten by the comics. I don't even remember when it was established anymore.

The result has been to make comic Stark incredibly dry compared to Batman.

Now on to movie Stark.

Movie Stark is filled with survivor's guilt and PSTD. The deaths of the people he's failed to save haunts him deeply. He mourns his parents, and their assassination is a major plot point.

The assassination of comic Stark's parents was established so long ago that I've forgotten the details, and never touched on again. This makes comic Stark a much blander, dryer character than movie Stark.

Movie Stark truly loves Pepper and Rhodey. Him being obsessed with keeping her alive is a major plot-point. This makes his heroism more awesome, and even makes his mistakes much more relatable and forgivable.

Comic Stark was with a different woman every issue. Stark didn't care about them, so why should the audience?

Movie Stark is a blatant super-genius inventor, and the movies aren't afraid to be campy about it. He has goofy robot pets. He does experiments that are awesome half the time, and blow up in his face the other half of the time. There's a real vibe that he's part of the tradition of movie super-genius inventors who cook their bacon and eggs with a Rube Goldberg machine.

This gives him routine scientific Crowning Moments of Awesome. It even gives him a way to screw up that is kind of awesome. His Frankenstein Monster Ultron, for example. Also his glancing at Maya Hanson's life's work, casually inventing the breakthrough equation she'd been searching for her entire career, scribbling it on a nametag, and forgetting about it. It's a mistake that causes the rest of the movie, yet it's still awesome!

One of the other posters talked about how comic Stark was less campy, but that ultimately turned into a weakness because the writers went too far with it, ultimately just making comic Stark feel bland and second-rate. While Thor was performing blatantly awesome feats of power and Captain America was performing blatantly awesome feats of inspiration and tactics, comic Iron Man was mostly this blandly "realistic" background figure.

Also, moving away from Stark being an inventive super-genius to him being mainly a businessman made the sort of mistakes his could make less relatable and forgivable. Super-genius Stark inventing Extremis' breakthrough equation or creating a Frankestein monster is divorced enough from reality and awesome enough that people can forgive Stark for it. Businessman Stark, though, has to make dreary, realistic, political mistakes that are much too close to home for most people to be forgivable. Not only don't people forgive those mistakes, many comic readers outright hate him for it.

Comic Stark's blandness even hurt his villains. Comic Stark didn’t care about anything interesting, so villains had nothing interesting to take from him. Batman cares about saving a random woman in a dark alley from being raped, and random people being murdered in dark alleys. Even if they are random, they are individual people with faces. Batman cares about something interesting, so villains have something interesting to take from him. Joker can hurt Batman, truly hurt him, just by killing one person with a name and face in a dark alley. That ability to truly, routinely hurt Batman makes Joker interesting.

Meanwhile what could The Mandarin or whoever take from comic Stark? He could have schemed to steal his company, which almost no reader cares about. He could have schemed to replace Iron Man’s armaments with cheap knock-offs that will statistically increase the danger of soldiers dying, but that’s too abstract to be interesting.





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Reverend Meteor


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 11,689



I guess I've always been blind to what Iron Man is about. With Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Cap, Hulk, Wonder Woman etc...you have some sort of theme in there people can connect with.

I've always struggled with what that theme (or hook) is with Iron Man. Even his worst enemy the Mandarin...I really have zero understanding why out of all his enemies that one is somehow important. They're not overly similar or opposite. There isn't enough there for a strong comparison or contrast really.

I admit I just didn't get the character before they added the smarmy parts to him.





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America's Captain 

Maintainer

Location: Bayville New Jersey
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 12,139



    Quote:
    Comic Stark for much of his history didn't care about anything interesting to the general audience. He cared about his company, and he cared about the lives of soldiers in the abstract.



    Quote:
    Very few people can relate to caring about a company. Most people will never see a million dollars in their lives, never mind a billion, so it's hard to make them care about saving a multi-billion dollar company. Oh no, if Stark fails, he'll...still have more money than I'll ever have.



    Quote:
    While people do care about the lives of individual soldiers, most can't care about the importance of top-notch gear to those soldiers survival. It's too abstract. Also, it blends with their views on the military industrial complex, which taints what little they care about the subject.


I largely agree with the above, but I think there's more to be said.

Iron Man, when created, was a Cold Warrior. This was fundamental to what Marvel was doing with the character. He was a capitalist because that's what the Cold War was supposedly about: capitalism versus communism. I actually like those early stories. The underlying assumption was, Russia wanted to conquer the United States and rule over it with an iron fist. Iron Man's real enemy, a lot of the time, was Russia, which was an enemy the American public absolutely understood and viscerally related to, especially when fears of nuclear attack overtook them.

Iron Man, back then, was also about rescuing people from disasters. He still is, of course. Iron Man is one of the Marvel heroes most likely to intervene when, say, a 747 is experiencing engine failure, or a nuclear power plant is on the verge of melt down. Spider-Man, for instance, would LIKE to intervene, but he often lacks the power to effectively do so, though of course he'll make himself as useful as he can. Iron Man can actually guide the 747 to a safe landing or fly away with the nuclear core of the power plant and let it explode in the stratosphere.

I've argued recently that Iron Man is Marvel's Batman. Thing is, he's also Marvel's Superman. He carries the best of both archetypes. Yet Marvel can't see any of this. It baffles me.

So any way, Iron Man as a Cold Warrior became obsolete. In the late 60s the Vietnam War became hugely unpopular and suddenly the whole Cold War became unpopular (which of course didn't stop it from being waged for another 20 years) so Iron Man needed to be reengineered. This is where the whole thing fell off the rails to some extent, though I nevertheless enjoyed the stories. Minus the Cold War, Iron Man became a generic superhero. He had his superhero identity and he had his civilian identity, and sometimes the former drove the stories while sometimes the latter drove the stories, in much the same way that Spider-Man operated. Trouble is, while Iron Man's superhero identity was pretty awesome as he was quite powerful and heroic, his civilian identity was often unrelatable. This is how I look at what you're talking about, Mandarin. Tony Stark was super-rich, very handsome, and a genius, so what sort of problems was he going to have? Now there were times when Tony was given relatable problems, usually having to do with some love interest. But other times, his problems were the sort a CEO would have, and since most of us aren't CEOs, we couldn't relate.


    Quote:
    Now I'll examine why Batman and movie Stark both work, despite their similarities to the failed comic Stark.



    Quote:
    Batman cares about people with names and faces. He's out to stop murderers and rapists in alleyways. He also cares deeply about his sons, both adoptive and biological, and about his surrogate father Alfred. While he has a company, he's rarely shown to care much about it. It's mostly a plot-device to explain why he has so much time and money to devote to saving individuals with names and faces in dark alleyways.


True.


    Quote:
    That's much more relatable to the general audience than caring about billions of dollars or how your equipment will result in statistically ten percent less infantry casualties than your competitors equipment.


True.


    Quote:
    (And yes, you can make a case for Stark's big picture thinking saving more lives statistically than Wayne's, but that's completely irrelevant to the subject at hand, which is Stark's popularity with the general audience. This is about emotion, not statistical analysis.)



    Quote:
    Batman's grief over his parents is a living thing, a very relatable source of angst.



    Quote:
    The assassination of Stark's parents by Roxxon has been completely forgotten by the comics. I don't even remember when it was established anymore.



    Quote:
    The result has been to make comic Stark incredibly dry compared to Batman.


Stark's parents were never part of the origin story. He continued in his Iron Man identity to honor the memory of Ho Yinsen. Maybe that's weird. But Ho Yinsen gave his life for Tony. That made a powerful impression on him and set the direction for the rest of his life.


    Quote:
    Now on to movie Stark.



    Quote:
    Movie Stark is filled with survivor's guilt and PSTD. The deaths of the people he's failed to save haunts him deeply. He mourns his parents, and their assassination is a major plot point.


I don't even remember the assassination. I didn't even know it happened. In the movie or in the comic. It was never central to the story line. Ho Yinsen was central to the story line. He may never have been mentioned again after the origin, but in the origin itself, he looms gigantic.


    Quote:
    The assassination of comic Stark's parents was established so long ago that I've forgotten the details, and never touched on again. This makes comic Stark a much blander, dryer character than movie Stark.



    Quote:
    Movie Stark truly loves Pepper and Rhodey. Him being obsessed with keeping her alive is a major plot-point. This makes his heroism more awesome, and even makes his mistakes much more relatable and forgivable.


Comic Stark loves Pepper and Rhodey also. And Happy Hogan. And James Sitwell. Comic Tony has always given his heart to people.


    Quote:
    Comic Stark was with a different woman every issue. Stark didn't care about them, so why should the audience?


Tony had a number of paramours that he genuinely cared about.


    Quote:
    Movie Stark is a blatant super-genius inventor, and the movies aren't afraid to be campy about it. He has goofy robot pets. He does experiments that are awesome half the time, and blow up in his face the other half of the time. There's a real vibe that he's part of the tradition of movie super-genius inventors who cook their bacon and eggs with a Rube Goldberg machine.



    Quote:
    This gives him routine scientific Crowning Moments of Awesome. It even gives him a way to screw up that is kind of awesome. His Frankenstein Monster Ultron, for example. Also his glancing at Maya Hanson's life's work, casually inventing the breakthrough equation she'd been searching for her entire career, scribbling it on a nametag, and forgetting about it. It's a mistake that causes the rest of the movie, yet it's still awesome!


Definitely the mad genius trope was great in the film and would have been great in the comic if anyone had thought of doing it.


    Quote:
    One of the other posters talked about how comic Stark was less campy, but that ultimately turned into a weakness because the writers went too far with it, ultimately just making comic Stark feel bland and second-rate. While Thor was performing blatantly awesome feats of power and Captain America was performing blatantly awesome feats of inspiration and tactics, comic Iron Man was mostly this blandly "realistic" background figure.


Comic Tony had far less of a sense of humor than movie Tony. This is true, and another reason why the film was great.


    Quote:
    Also, moving away from Stark being an inventive super-genius to him being mainly a businessman made the sort of mistakes his could make less relatable and forgivable. Super-genius Stark inventing Extremis' breakthrough equation or creating a Frankestein monster is divorced enough from reality and awesome enough that people can forgive Stark for it. Businessman Stark, though, has to make dreary, realistic, political mistakes that are much too close to home for most people to be forgivable. Not only don't people forgive those mistakes, many comic readers outright hate him for it.


Comic Tony was from the beginning a businessman as well as an inventor. But here's the thing: he was a Cold Warrior and a capitalist, which was a perfect pairing of concepts. When he stopped being a Cold Warrior, his status as a capitalist lost its underlying significance and thematic and symbolic power. Unfortunately Marvel never grasped this.


    Quote:
    Comic Stark's blandness even hurt his villains. Comic Stark didn’t care about anything interesting, so villains had nothing interesting to take from him. Batman cares about saving a random woman in a dark alley from being raped, and random people being murdered in dark alleys. Even if they are random, they are individual people with faces. Batman cares about something interesting, so villains have something interesting to take from him. Joker can hurt Batman, truly hurt him, just by killing one person with a name and face in a dark alley. That ability to truly, routinely hurt Batman makes Joker interesting.




    Quote:
    Meanwhile what could The Mandarin or whoever take from comic Stark? He could have schemed to steal his company, which almost no reader cares about. He could have schemed to replace Iron Man’s armaments with cheap knock-offs that will statistically increase the danger of soldiers dying, but that’s too abstract to be interesting.


Somewhat true. Everything about Batman is true. But your view of Tony is stilted. Tony always cared about anyone who was in danger. He also deeply cared about a variety of individuals. The problem was, readers were unlikely to care about him because he was super-rich, and who cares about the super-rich? Can they even have problems? Well yes, of course they can: health problems and romantic problems. Tony was given both. His weak heart was a constant plot element and his problems with lovers were pretty frequent too. But he was super-rich, so boo hoo, give him a hanky. That's the real problem. We who aren't rich have a natural hatred for the super-rich. If anything, we want them to suffer.

Bruce Waybe is super-rich too, but Bruce Wayne is a facade. Nobody cares about Bruce Wayne, least of all Batman. (Well, I guess Alfred cares about Bruce Wayne.) Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, and all the others, they care about Batman. Bruce Wayne is a facade and they know it. Batman, under the influence of Wonder Woman's magic lasso, was asked to identify himself, and while Clark in the same situation identified himself as Clark Kent, Batman identified himself as Batman. The last thing in the world that Batman cares about is Bruce Wayne. This very cleverly sidesteps the problem of readers instinctively hating Batman because he's super-rich. Batman isn't super-rich. Bruce Wayne is super-rich, but nobody cares about Bruce Wayne.








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The Mandarin


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,292




    Quote:
    I've always struggled with what that theme (or hook) is with Iron Man. Even his worst enemy the Mandarin...I really have zero understanding why out of all his enemies that one is somehow important. They're not overly similar or opposite. There isn't enough there for a strong comparison or contrast really.


The Iron Man and The Mandarin’s life-stories parallel each other, except the Mandarin’s is much more evil at every level.

Both Iron Man and Mandarin began as aristocrats. Iron Man was raised by parents who were cold and concerned with hardening him up and making him a real man.

The Mandarin was raised by an aunt who hated him, and raised him to be an evil super-soldier, obsessed with war and science and martial arts and political deviousness. He was raised to be the harshest possible version of what a “real man” is.

Iron Man squandered some of his fortune on wasteful, hedonistic things, but ultimately was responsible enough to keep his company afloat and keep the people under him employed and prosperous.

The Mandarin squandered every bit of wealth he inherited, bankrupting his estate to transform himself into a super-soldier. His estate became so bankrupt he couldn’t even afford to pay property taxes. As a result, the lives of everyone who depended on his estate was ruined.

Out of a desire to protect American soldiers with the best equipment and keep his company alive, Iron Man de facto supported American actions that were at least semi-colonial. It’s a stain on his conscience that he works every day to rectify.

The Mandarin explored new lands, discovered alien resources, and outright conquered, colonized, enslaved the native villages there so he could exploit the resources there, i.e. the alien technology and rings. He was pretty much colonialism-incarnate. He remains a proud conqueror and exploiter to this day.

In short, the Mandarin is an exaggeration of Stark’s worst traits.




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Grey Gargoyle


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 15,447



    Quote:
    I've argued recently that Iron Man is Marvel's Batman. Thing is, he's also Marvel's Superman. He carries the best of both archetypes. Yet Marvel can't see any of this. It baffles me.


Yes, I agree it is fun that Marvel's Big Three mirror DC's Trinity ! \:\-\)

If :

(Superman + Batman = > Iron Man)

(Superman + Wonder Woman = > Thor)

(Batman + Wonder Woman = > Captain America)

(Captain America + Iron Man = > Batman)

(Thor + Iron Man = > Superman)

(Captain America + Thor = > Wonder Woman)

Then :

(Captain America + Thor + Iron Man < = > Superman + Batman + Wonder Woman) ! (^_^)


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Grey Gargoyle


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 15,447


Also, similar taste in facial hair & costumes.

When he used the Gene Kahn alias, the Mandarin looked like an evil Tony Stark.

In the same story, he was portrayed as a crime boss & the head of a workers' union, a populist using demagogy against Tony Stark.
http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/iron_man_57-58.shtml

So far, it has probably been one of his better & most successful plans.

I told you so. Calling himself Gene Kahn brings him luck ! (^_^')





Jim Lee's rendition of the Mandarin also had a similar dress code.





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America's Captain 

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Location: Bayville New Jersey
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 12,139



    Quote:
    Yes, I agree it is fun that Marvel's Big Three mirror DC's Trinity ! \:\-\)



    Quote:
    If :



    Quote:
    (Superman + Batman = > Iron Man)



    Quote:
    (Superman + Wonder Woman = > Thor)



    Quote:
    (Batman + Wonder Woman = > Captain America)



    Quote:
    (Captain America + Iron Man = > Batman)



    Quote:
    (Thor + Iron Man = > Superman)



    Quote:
    (Captain America + Thor = > Wonder Woman)



    Quote:
    Then :



    Quote:
    (Captain America + Thor + Iron Man < = > Superman + Batman + Wonder Woman) ! (^_^)


I'll have to give all of that a lot of thought.

I think this much is true - making use of the "approximately equal" sign:

(Superman + Batman) ~ Iron Man

Batman ~ Iron Man minus Superman

Superman ~ Iron Man minus Batman

I think I will also say this:

(Superman minus Clark Kent + Krypton Exists) ~ Thor

(Thor + Clark Kent minus Krypton Exists) ~ Superman

Thor had Don Blake for a time, but Don Blake was treated as Thor in disguise, whereas Thor was never treated as Don Blake in disguise. Thor was the completely dominant persona. Such is not the case with Superman. Clark Kent, Ma and Pa Kent, Smallville, Metropolis, and the Daily Planet are all fundamental to who Superman is. Superman is only genetically a Kryptonian. Thor is both genetically and spiritually an Asgardian, the only father he has or cares about is Odin, and aside from the Avengers, the only friends he has are Asgardians.

I'm not convinced we can put Captain America and Wonder Woman into this and really make it work, but I haven't finished processing what you wrote above.

Oh wait! This occurs to me.

(Superman minus Clark Kent + Krypton Exists) ~ Wonder Woman

(Wonder Woman + Clark Kent minus Krypton Exists) ~ Superman

Wonder Woman ~ Thor

I'm treating gender as irrelevant for this particular algebra. In other algebraic equations, gender could very well be relevant.

I still think Captain America may elude this discussion entirely. His fundamental truths are (1) fighting Hitler; (2) being an Avenger; (3) partnering with SHIELD. We would need a DC character (or several) who can access these three fundamentals. The Avengers would of course be replaced by either the Justice League, the Justice Society, the All-Star Squadron, or the Teen Titans. SHIELD would be replaced by - what? Does it have a serious counterpart in DC? DC has secret agencies but they're all dark all of the time. SHIELD had to be infiltrated by HYDRA in order to go all dark. (So of course Marvel went there because Event Comics had completely infiltrated the Bullpen.)

ADDENDUM: I've recently been reading Bronze Age Batman, which of course, in my opinion, is the gold standard, and I'm watching him be a (gasp) DETECTIVE. Len Wein is the writer of the stories I'm reading. Any way, 21st century Batman almost never does detective work, nor is he a detective in the movies, so I had forgotten that aspect. This was an error on my part. Marvel does not have a detective superhero except maybe Moon Knight sometimes, when he isn't simply being nuts. Daredevil beats people up for information, and so does the Punisher, but I don't consider either of them legitimate detectives, though Daredevil would always have made a formidable one with his super senses. Certainly IRON MAN is not a detective. This is important and I was placing no importance on it. Duh.






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The Mandarin


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,292





    Quote:
    Certainly IRON MAN is not a detective.


Movie Iron Man is a detective. Much of Iron Man III is him performing detective work, and he's actually better at it than movie Batman. Busiek's Stark is also kind of half scientist, half detective. Even Bendis' Stark does significant amounts of detective work. Stark is actually portrayed as a detective a substantial minority of the time, because he often has to unravel conspiracies.






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The Mandarin


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,292






Yeah, I like the hypermasculine tackyness of both these looks. Especially the X-Men one with his leopard print scarf and tie. It combines the elements I believe The Mandarin's costume should have: it looks rich, and it evokes pimps and Goodfella thugs.

I've often thought that The Mandarin's clothing should almost be to Stark and Iron Man what the Devitto Penguin is to Bruce Wayne and Batman.



The Devitto Penguin is Bruce Wayne and Batman in one composite image. Like Wayne, he's a rich aristocrat. Like Batman, he's an image of animal brutality.

In my opnion, the Mandarin should dress like Stark, but with Iron Man colors. On armor, those colors looks heroic. On clothing, those colors evoke pimps and playboys. They convey toxic masculinity and vanity.

I like the idea that by putting Iron Man colors on a Stark business suit, you get this image of grotesque conspicuous consumption, the ultimate one-percenter.





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America's Captain 

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    Quote:

      Quote:
      Certainly IRON MAN is not a detective.



    Quote:
    Movie Iron Man is a detective. Much of Iron Man III is him performing detective work, and he's actually better at it than movie Batman. Busiek's Stark is also kind of half scientist, half detective. Even Bendis' Stark does significant amounts of detective work. Stark is actually portrayed as a detective a substantial minority of the time, because he often has to unravel conspiracies.


That's interesting! I'll have to think about that. Maybe Marvel should place greater emphasis on that. It may mean more scenes with Tony out of the armor, but that might be a good thing. Maybe Tony could even wear a disguise once in a while!








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Grey Gargoyle


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 15,447


:-)

For my part :


(Iron Man : modern knight, has a lot of gadgets) ~ (Batman : modern knight, has a lot of gadgets)
(Iron Man : man of steel, one of his main opponents is a bald businessman) ~ (Superman : man of steel, one of his main opponents is a bald businessman)


(Captain America : the US flag & WWII, worked for the US military forces, has a unique weapon) ~ (Wonder Woman : the US flag & WWII, worked for the US military forces, has a unique weapon)
(Captain America : streel level fighter, has a sidekick) ~ (Batman : streel level fighter, has a sidekick)


(Thor & mythology) ~ (Wonder Woman & mythology)
(Thor : super-strength, durability, flying, wearing a red cloak ...) ~ (Superman : super-strength, durability, flying, wearing a red cloak ...)



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Alexandre Juliao


Member Since: Sat Oct 04, 2008
Posts: 639



    Quote:

    I guess I've always been blind to what Iron Man is about. With Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Cap, Hulk, Wonder Woman etc...you have some sort of theme in there people can connect with.



    Quote:
    I've always struggled with what that theme (or hook) is with Iron Man. Even his worst enemy the Mandarin...I really have zero understanding why out of all his enemies that one is somehow important. They're not overly similar or opposite. There isn't enough there for a strong comparison or contrast really.



    Quote:
    I admit I just didn't get the character before they added the smarmy parts to him.



I've always liked Iron Man for a number of reasons, some of them personal.

In terms of personal reasons, I am asthmatic and although nowadays I suffer very little from it, in my childhood this disease debilitated me a lot. Seeing Tony Stark battling heart problems and being a hero nonetheless, inspired me a lot at the time. In addition, his origin borrows many elements from my favorite book, "The Count of Monte Cristo".

As for more general reasons, Tony used to be an arrogant and unfriendly person who had an epiphany and changed his way of being. Iron Man is a hero, not thanks to his virtues, but despite his faults. And this type of character has always interested me more than those who have always been examples of virtue. That's the same reason why I've always been a fan of Doctor Strange too. These elements have always been there and when used to their full potential, have generated the best stories the character has ever had.

He ended up getting popular with the general public, because Jon Favreau did at the time of the first movie, what you did now, which is to ask the fans why they like the character and used those responses in the production of the 2008 movie.

As for the Mandarin, I did never found him interesting either. I only realized how cool he is, thanks to the posts published in this forum by The Mandarin. But to me, the best archenemy for Iron Man, has yet to come. There were some false starts that didn´t work, like the third Crimson Dynamo. And Doctor Doom, which to me is the perfect character to play this role, unfortunately on the only occasion that it became possible to import him from the FF book, was wasted by Bendis.




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The Mandarin


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,292



    Quote:
    As for the Mandarin, I did never found him interesting either. I only realized how cool he is, thanks to the posts published in this forum by The Mandarin.


In fairness, he gradually jumped the shark, so that's understandable. Stan Lee gave him an origin that combined the pathos of The Penguin and Roman Sionis, aristocrats whose parents hated them, with the pathos of X-23, a super-soldier raised to be a living weapon. And then topped it off with the topical darkness of Christopher Columbus style exploration, colonialism, imperialism, and exploitation.

And then...subsequent writers did absolutely nothing with any of that. Instead they gradually boosted the rings up and up and up, which is absolutely the most boring thing you could possibly do with that character. It's a deterioration on a par with the Batman & Robin version of Bane, a mindless nothing completely dependent on venom to do anything. I'm not surprised you wouldn't be interested in a rings version of Robert Swenson Bane.






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America's Captain 

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Location: Bayville New Jersey
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 12,139



    Quote:

    I've always liked Iron Man for a number of reasons, some of them personal.



    Quote:
    In terms of personal reasons, I am asthmatic and although nowadays I suffer very little from it, in my childhood this disease debilitated me a lot. Seeing Tony Stark battling heart problems and being a hero nonetheless, inspired me a lot at the time.


The heart problems were so fundamental to so many of the stories back in the day. Yet nowadays there are probably a lot of fans who never even knew Iron Man had heart problems at all - until the movies came out. The character has been missing something for a long time and maybe the constant threat of cardiac arrest is precisely that something he's been missing.


    Quote:
    In addition, his origin borrows many elements from my favorite book, "The Count of Monte Cristo".


Great book. What elements of that story do you see in the origin?


    Quote:
    As for more general reasons, Tony used to be an arrogant and unfriendly person who had an epiphany and changed his way of being. Iron Man is a hero, not thanks to his virtues, but despite his faults. And this type of character has always interested me more than those who have always been examples of virtue. That's the same reason why I've always been a fan of Doctor Strange too. These elements have always been there and when used to their full potential, have generated the best stories the character has ever had.


I had never considered the similarity between Tony Stark and Stephen Strange until you mentioned it just now. But yes, you're absolutely right. One of them is a technologist and the other is a sorcerer yet both were puffed up with ego and both had a conversion experience that popped the ego balloon and set them on a new path. I think there may actually be a parallel universe where these two men are villains. Take away the conversion experience, replace it with a downward spiral (and no, I don't mean alcoholism, I mean a descent into real depravity) and then provide the last little push into the heart of darkness. Frankly, this would make for two really good "What If" stories if that comic still existed. "What If Tony Stark Went Bad?" - "What If Stephen Strange Went Bad?" - They practically beg to be written!







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The Mandarin


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,292



    Quote:
    The character has been missing something for a long time and maybe the constant threat of cardiac arrest is precisely that something he's been missing.


No. People care about movie Stark avenging Yinsen and saving those villagers. They care about him saving Pepper. The heart is trivial. In fact, the only moment in the movie where it was cool at all, was as a plot-device to get Stark to reveal that Pepper is the only person he trusts completely when he asks her to help him install his new heart gizmo. There's a reason the movie people eventually disposed of it entirely.




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    Take away the conversion experience, replace it with a downward spiral (and no, I don't mean alcoholism, I mean a descent into real depravity) and then provide the last little push into the heart of darkness. Frankly, this would make for two really good "What If" stories if that comic still existed. "What If Tony Stark Went Bad?" - "What If Stephen Strange Went Bad?" - They practically beg to be written!


They've already done this repeatedly, and done it in regular continuity. Civil War, the Tom Taylor run, the whole thing with the universe ending and Stark being outright said to embody death. There already is a character who embodies Stark's worse traits magnified to the point of outright depravity: he's named The Mandarin. I'm sick of Stark stealing the Mandarin's job.






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America's Captain 

Maintainer

Location: Bayville New Jersey
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 12,139



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      Quote:
      The character has been missing something for a long time and maybe the constant threat of cardiac arrest is precisely that something he's been missing.



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    No. People care about movie Stark avenging Yinsen and saving those villagers. They care about him saving Pepper. The heart is trivial. In fact, the only moment in the movie where it was cool at all, was as a plot-device to get Stark to reveal that Pepper is the only person he trusts completely when he asks her to help him install his new heart gizmo. There's a reason the movie people eventually disposed of it entirely.


They didn't get rid of the heart gizmo until the very end (literally the last few seconds) of the very last film.

But more importantly, while I completely agree with your overall assessment that movie Stark is awesome and in some ways is an improvement over comic book Stark, I don't necessarily think movie Stark is the gold standard by which all should be measured. The original Silver Age Stark was compelling also - and one of his defining characteristics was his need to keep the armor charged up so his heart wouldn't fail. This meant that every time he went into battle he was doubly risking his life, first because the villain might overpower him, and secondly because the fight might drain too much power from his armor and he might die before managing to recharge. This was heroism to the highest degree.


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    They've already done this repeatedly, and done it in regular continuity. Civil War, the Tom Taylor run, the whole thing with the universe ending and Stark being outright said to embody death.


Those stories were awful and miss the whole point of the "What If" stories I proposed. The "What If" stories would serve to underscore how terrific Tony and Stephen are, because despite having the potential for great evil, they instead chose the path of great good. Civil War and those other horrible stories completely ignore the whole essence of Tony and his conversion experience. They present Tony as if he was still walking on the dark side.

Meanwhile, I remember reading at least a portion of this:
Iron Maniac


    Quote:
    There already is a character who embodies Stark's worse traits magnified to the point of outright depravity: he's named The Mandarin. I'm sick of Stark stealing the Mandarin's job.







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The Mandarin


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,292


I'm not interested in Stark as a villain, not even in a What If. I'm sick of it. I want Stark to stop stealing The Mandarin's job.




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Alexandre Juliao


Member Since: Sat Oct 04, 2008
Posts: 639



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      In addition, his origin borrows many elements from my favorite book, "The Count of Monte Cristo".



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    Great book. What elements of that story do you see in the origin?



It is a subtle resemblance, where circumstances differ, but the basic concept is the same. In both stories we have a protagonist in the prime of his life, who although very intelligent, has a narrow view of the world. He is eventually imprisoned and in captivity, meets an old and wise man who helps him escape and at the same time also helps him to expand and redirect his own potential. And it's the death of this wise old man that ends up guaranteeing the means so that the protagonist can escape captivity.





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Alexandre Juliao


Member Since: Sat Oct 04, 2008
Posts: 639



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      As for the Mandarin, I did never found him interesting either. I only realized how cool he is, thanks to the posts published in this forum by The Mandarin.



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    In fairness, he gradually jumped the shark, so that's understandable. Stan Lee gave him an origin that combined the pathos of The Penguin and Roman Sionis, aristocrats whose parents hated them, with the pathos of X-23, a super-soldier raised to be a living weapon. And then topped it off with the topical darkness of Christopher Columbus style exploration, colonialism, imperialism, and exploitation.



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    And then...subsequent writers did absolutely nothing with any of that. Instead they gradually boosted the rings up and up and up, which is absolutely the most boring thing you could possibly do with that character. It's a deterioration on a par with the Batman & Robin version of Bane, a mindless nothing completely dependent on venom to do anything. I'm not surprised you wouldn't be interested in a rings version of Robert Swenson Bane.



That's true. For a long time, the rings were far more important than the personality, when an writer used Mandarin in a story. For example, "The Dragon Seed Saga" is a great story, but today it's not interesting to me anymore, because I realize that its concept is all wrong.



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America's Captain 

Maintainer

Location: Bayville New Jersey
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 12,139



    Quote:

    It is a subtle resemblance, where circumstances differ, but the basic concept is the same. In both stories we have a protagonist in the prime of his life, who although very intelligent, has a narrow view of the world. He is eventually imprisoned and in captivity, meets an old and wise man who helps him escape and at the same time also helps him to expand and redirect his own potential. And it's the death of this wise old man that ends up guaranteeing the means so that the protagonist can escape captivity.


Ah! Now I see it! I agree. You're right.






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