There is no doubt in my mind that 2008’s Iron Man was an all around better movie. The plot was less convoluted, the characters were more subtle (which made them more relatable and likable), and, as oxymoronic as it is to say about a comic book movie, it was more based in reality. Think about the “cool factor" of that movie. To me, the fun came from thinking “This could happen. If only there was a smart enough dude…” But, that flew out the window with Iron Man 2. It pains me to say this, but I think all of the build up to the eventual Avengers movie is going to damage the potential quality of some of the other upcoming Marvel projects.
Iron Man was a great stand-alone film. With the exception of the post-credit scene with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), we saw a film which put Tony Stark into his own reality, separate from those of other heroes. This enabled the writers and directors to create their own interpretation of the Iron Man story, an interpretation that was devoid of elements that were, let’s say, too science fictiony. We don’t see any indication of the possibility of gods like Thor flying around and controlling the weather, or a big, green over-irradiated monster terrorizing cities.
As they try to intertwine the realities of Thor or The Incredible Hulk with that of Iron Man, the high quality of a stand-alone movie is going to be impossible to maintain, let alone create. It’s the same reason we will never see a crossover film between Christopher Nolan’s Dark Night version of Batman and any version of Superman. It would take a screenwriting miracle to make those two starkly different realities mesh in way that would do justice to both characters.
Maybe I’m looking too far into the future, but I see the Avengers project possibly resulting in the eventual death, or at least severe maiming, of the superhero film genre. Story quality can only suffer for so long before audience mob mentality sets in and destroys the box office success. Since we are about to be inundated with superhero flicks, it could happen sooner rather than later.
It’s a difficult contradiction that fans are going to have to sort out. Do we really want to see all our favorite heroes together onscreen at the price of sacrificing the quality of their stand-alone films? Considering that there will be many more Iron Mans, Hulks, Thors and Captain Americas than there will be Avengers films, I’m not sure that’s a price I’m willing to pay.
Is The Avengers doing more damage than good? Did you prefer the first or second Iron Man? What do you think?