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Subj: Re: Replying to Thuggernaut above
Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 at 05:12:22 pm EST (Viewed 229 times)
Reply Subj: Replying to Thuggernaut above
Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 at 01:45:34 pm EST (Viewed 300 times)
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.
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.
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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