I went to see Iron Man at the Madison Theater in Albany. There were 4 people in the theater – four – on a Sunday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend. This breaks the previous record for second smallest audience I’ve been in for a film. Worse than the six people with whom I saw both “Raising Arizona” and “Requiem for a Dream.” The only movie I ever attended with the worst audience numerically was when I sat alone for a matinee showing of “Spy Kids.”
Just before I saw the movie, I was playing an album by Pete Townsend called “Iron Man”, which was the basis for the animated film “The Iron Giant”, which I love. There’s a character in the “Iron Man” movie that looks not unlike a malevolent “Iron Giant.” But you’ll have to see that for yourself.
This movie theater showed six previews. One was for the new Indy Jones movie, which had opened nationally, but not yet at that location; maybe I’ll see it. The M. Night Shyamalan movie “The Happening”; the title reminds me of a dorky Supremes song that did better on the pop charts than it did the R&B charts; since I still have the Andromeda Strain to watch on the DVR, taped from A&E, I think I’ll pass. I’m mortified to note that I laughed, just a little, at the preview for that Adam Sandler Zotan film. There was the Incredible Hulk; I never saw the Ang Lee version from five years back, but this looks interesting. There was The Dark Knight, which seemed to feature the Joker more than Bruce Wayne and Batman combined; I might catch it. The sixth movie I forget; Prine Caspian? The Stranger? I don’t remember.
I should note that Iron Man was never my favorite Marvel character. I came to superhero comics in the early 1970s, but I went back to know well the origins of characters such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Hulk. Yet I wasn’t that involved in Iron Man’s, save for its Viet Nam roots. Actually, I’ve just reread it, and it’s just not all that interesting. (What IS interesting is that it took Marvel to Volume 20 to put Shell-Head in a Marvel Masterworks, whereas characters such as Spidey and even the Silver Surfer had already warranted multiple volumes.) So, I always felt Iron Man was a minor player, even though he was an Avenger.
That said, all the reviews I’ve seen talk about how great Robert Downey, Jr. is as the snarky Tony Stark, and I have to agree. As a long-time comic book reader, I thought the character was dull, and boring, and a tad bit fascistic. So to see Tony Stark evolve in the movie was a gratifying, rewarding evolution. The change from Southeast Asia to Afghanistan was well-conceived. Jeff Bridges, Gwynneth Paltrow, and Terence Howard were all very strong in their roles. One movie reviewer has suggested that there was more sexual tension between Downey’s Stark character and Paltrow’s Pepper Potts than you might find in your recent lame movie romances such as “27 Dresses” or “Made of Honor.” Not having seen either of those films, I can’t speak to the comparison, but there was definitely chemistry there.
Apparently my three compatriots in the theater hadn’t heard about the big reveal at the end of the movie credits, for a couple left as soon as the end credits began, while the other woman departed after the snazzy outro that utilized the music of Black Sabbath. If you somehow haven’t seen the movie yet, just wait for it.