For reasons that I trust are obvious to everyone, tonight we'll be looking at the War Machine Armor and some of the engineering that distinguishes from the traditional Iron Man armor suits.
An initial disclaimer however - like the Iron Man armor itself, a lot of this is subject to the interpretation of the artist, so take all of this with a grain of salt.
The most important distinction of the War Machine armor is fairly obvious - most of the weapons systems are essentially modified or miniturized versions of existing military hardware - missile launchers, machineguns, autocannons and so forth. While this happens to be a far more reasonable depiction than the various beam weaponry of the Iron Man armor, it also introduces a few entirely new drawbacks that to consider.
The first drawback has to be the limits on ammunition that you can store on a roughly human-sized frame for that many weapons - I mean, even if the armor were hollow (and it obviously isn't) there's no way to put enough ammo to keep a high cyclic-rate of fire chain gun firing for more than a couple of minutes. And of course, there's only so many rockets you could fire which would limit your long-term offensive capabilities. Secondly, you'd have to consider the short and long term maintenance issues. Even with low-residue "smokeless" propellants, the weapons would require cleaning. Of course, you could bypass this problem by saying that the projectile weapons use an electromagnetic propulsion system such as a rail gun, but this would introduce increased overheating issues, requiring an even more bulky design to accomodate coolants.
Recoil and balance would also become issues, especially with the rockets and most especially during flight (though, as we've discussed before, the Iron man armor isn't exactly aerodynamically feasible). The force of the weapons firing should knock around a human sized target unless it's anchored to the ground somehow. Now, this could probably be overcome using the propulsion of the repulsor flight system, but having never seen this depicted before, it is something that is clearly lacking. Of course, this problem gets a lot worse when you consider the guns mounted on the forearms of the War Machine armor, and gets much much worse when factoring multiple weapons systems firing at once. Still, it looks awesome, no?
This movie could have been a mess with the multiple plots and a whole ton of characters. Thankfully, the movie makes the correct choice of clearly putting Tony Stark (played perfectly by Downey Jr, but you didn't need me to tell you that did you?) at the center of this universe. This is a much more character driven vehicle than the last outing, and well, if the movie can at times seem a little ponderous and even scattershot, it makes up for by moments of being purely frentic and hyperactive - much like Stark himself.
As for the other actors in the film, I feel Sam Rockwell deserves special attention for his turn as Justin Hammer. Rockwell could have easily been submerged given the level of the actors he was put beside (particularly in his scenes with Mickey Rourke), but he manages to hold his own as well, the less than charismatic, "poor man's Tony Stark". In particular, an early scene in Monaco does a lot to make the character almost sympathetic - it has to be hard suffering in the shadow of Tony's unique combination of genius and asshole. Similarly in Tony's shadow is Lt. Col. James Rhodes (played by Don Cheadle, who brings the necessary gravitas to contain Downey's mania in key scenes), who is given a rather nice and understated conflict between his sense of duty to his friend and to his country. And really, nothing needs be said about Mickey Rourke - you either like him or you don't. Sadly most of the rest of the cast are underplayed in the film, and a few extra minutes to help develop them wouldn't have hurt.
So, a lot of energy, a lot of heart, and a light, breezy script makes for a great action film. Oh, and if you go, stay after the credits, but you already knew that, right?
Whenever someone makes the arguement "Mark Millar's take on Captain America in Ultimates is a realistic portrayal of the attitudes of real World War Two vets." Please point out the following.
1) Jack Kirby? You know, guy who co-created Cap? Brought him back in the Avengers? Actually had a run at scripting him? Yeah, that guy? WAS A BATTLEFIELD SCOUT IN WORLD WAR TWO. Just saying he might know a thing or two, and his portrayal might be based on something a little more accurate than whatever Millar is working with.
2) Millar's concept works if and only if you operate on the theory that Steve Rogers was an everyman. The one problem with that is that the everyman would not be BEGGING TO ENLIST IN THE ARMY NEARLY TWO FULL YEARS BEFORE THE WAR CAME TO AMERICA.
I really can't overstate this point - before Pearl Harbour Americans were deeply divided on the war and many if not most were hoping to avoid it altogether. And more than a few Americans knew about the horrors of World War One (you'll note there isn't a lot of popular fiction/movies/comics set in that time frame? There's probably a reason for that) and were justly afraid of being cut to pieces in a meat grinder. Even the most patriotic volunteer would probably breathe a sigh of relief at being classified 4F.
But not Steve Rogers. No, this is a guy who, having seen the worst of the Great Depression, having it killed his entirely family and left him sickly and frail, and in all probability knowing full well the horrors of war, decided that wasn't going to get in his way. He was going to sign up for an experimental and likely lethal effort to help America save the world.
And more than a few Americans knew about the horrors of World War One (you'll note there isn't a lot of popular fiction/movies/comics set in that time frame? There's probably a reason for that)
Not to derail, but I think the main reason WWI isn't big in US pop culture is because the US didn't have a big part in it. If it had been mainly American soldiers dying in the trenches instead of Frenchmen, Brits and Germans it would have been much bigger.
I merely meant that it seems to be more common in at least British pop culture (I don't know enough about French or German to say) than American. WWII is still, unsurprisingly, more common - it was a more dramatic conflict, not to mention 30 years more recent - but I think WWI is more commonly referenced there.
The one problem with that is that the everyman would not be BEGGING TO ENLIST IN THE ARMY NEARLY TWO FULL YEARS BEFORE THE WAR CAME TO AMERICA.
I really can't overstate this point - before Pearl Harbour Americans were deeply divided on the war and many if not most were hoping to avoid it altogether.
It's worth noting that Quesada's Marvel has attempted, more than once, to try and retcon Steve into having attempted to enlist ONLY AFTER the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They knew exactly what they were doing. They HATED the idea of Steve being THAT selfless.
Post by jessebaker on May 16, 2010 11:23:41 GMT -8
To be fair, Quesada's not the only one to do that era-wise; IIRC, Steve Gerber even tried to pull this: retconning Steve as being an uber-pacifist leftie who hated war in all forms, who only joined the military when Pearl Harbor happened and Steve's never before mentioned older brother died in the attack.
It was such a poorly received retcon that Stern and Byrne ended up making overturning it one of their top priorities when they took over the book in the early 80s.
A lot of people believe that Batman's the one you should look up to. After all, he wasn't gifted with powers, he had to work at it to become the pinnacle of humanity, and he constantly dedicates himself to a nigh-impossible task. And of course, there's the school of thought that if Superman were like Batman, as tireless and as dedicated, then nothing bad would ever happen.
I think these people are missing the point, personally.
I've always viewed Superman's role as a challenge to humanity, and one that's mirrored in his metaphorical challenge as a work of fiction. The challenge being "OK, here I am using what my hertiage has gifted me with to make things better in the name of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. You try it. You live up to your full potential, you use your gifts, and together, we can make this planet a decent place to live."
So, Spider-Man's Wedding. Let's talk about that story for a second.
A lot of people have over the years commented that it's not a very romantic story, and they're not wrong for point that out. However, I'd make the arguement that rather than a romantic story, the wedding story is an interesting showcase of Peter Parker and Mary Jane's characters, and an unintentional (or intentional?) subversion of a few of the comic wedding tropes.
OK, so the general criticism leveled at the actual wedding story is that it's a long story about Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson exploring every reason and excuse not to get married, and then they do it anyways.
Point the first - I think it's safe to say that any young couple has doubts about getting married; they may not always involve a cabal of killers who dress like circus clowns, but they probably have reasons. So I think it's normal, even realistic, that when making a decision, the reasons for not doing it would pop up rather frequently. The important thing to note, is that yeah, they say "screw the odds, I'm doing something for me because I want it." is a very human thing to do - if people aren't willing to take risks for something they want, then they don't lead very exciting lives to begin with. They sure as hell ain't heroes.
Point the second - This is very much Peter Parker's character shining through. This is a guy who has taken on more responsibility than any reasonable or sane person could since he was in high school. The fact that he's managed to keep so much successfully on his shoulders for so long (with only a very few slip ups over the years) is a testament to his integrity, brillance and sheer stubborn will. So of course, Peter's going to go through the worst case scenarios involved in the possibility of marriage - his life has had more than his fair share of troubles. And it's just as natural for him to go for it, to take the risks. After all, he puts his life on the line every day without a thought of any kind of reward or even thanks, and he rarely if ever has anything to show for his personal life, so it makes sense. Never underestimate the human desire to raise up its middle finger at fate and say "Fuck you, I'm going for this, and you and entropy and the universe can go suck it."
Point the final - this book quickly eliminates the decades old "But if I get married, my enemies will try to get to me through them!" gimmick. Let's think logically for a second - if you take this line of thinking to its conclusion, then any given superhero should just give up their 'normal' lives, disown their families, and never make a meaningful connection with another human being ever again. And even if that insane course were persued, it still wouldn't work. You think Captain Killsalot gives a crap that you haven't spoken to your mother in eight years? He's a crazed killer, I don't think he's really that up or interested in your personal dynamics. If an insane lunatic ends up striking at a hero, they aren't going to see much distinction between current and ex-girlfriends or estranged and close family - they are just out to hurt you. Soooooo, I don't buy that logic, and I'm glad that in this comic, it's pretty handily dismissed.
Partly because he was Green Lantern when I was growing up, I'll admit that. And even though Ron Marz blatantly stole Peter Parker's character arc and transfused it into Kyle, it still sticks with me. It also doesn't hurt that Kyle was my gateway into the DCU and that as the designated POV guy he was a great prism through which to learn about DC.
Partly because I liked his non-traditional costume, crab mask and all.
Partly because to this day, when I think of Kyle, I think of him holding back a sun or any of the 90 awesome things he did in Grant Morrison's JLA run. I think of him facing down that rather lame (but still impressive) son-of-Darkseid guy. I think of him and the Silver Surfer teaming up to take on Thanos. I remember a lot of 'moments'. Now, I've also tried to read a lot of Hal comics, and even with Geoff Johns straining so hard to give Hal "badass moments" in things like Sinestro Corps War or Blackest Night, it always ends up that they are so heavy-handed as to be forgettable, where smaller moments of badass from the other GLs creep in (i.e. Guy Gardner, who's will is so strong he can actually FIGHT THE GODDAMN GL rings themselves).
I kind of like what Geoff Johns has done with Superboy. As utterly ridiculous and nonsensical as the retcon was, it did crystallize the character for me.
I mean, of course, no young person has such an explicit struggle for self-definition as Conner here does. It's insane to even think that you are completely genetically pre-disposed towards becoming a genocidal mad scientist.
Aren't superhero comics supposed to be wildly exaggerated morality tales? I mean, if this isn't the medium for it, what is?
And I think it's rather charming (in a very old-school way) to portray the struggle between good and evil as a series of choices defining the path to maturity and growing up. I think it helps personalize and ground the conflict.
One thing I'm finding lacking right now in superhero comics?
The use of more, shall we say, "colorful" powers. Things that are a bit off the wall, even silly, but that have an established place in superhero comics like size-changing, stretching, Illusions, or the powers of about half the Legion of Superheroes. I really do feel that the superhero genre becomes a lot less colorful and a lot more bland when all that's left are big flying bruisers and Zappy McBlasters.
I have to admit.... I've been waiting for Captain Orgasm for a long time.
Doctor Doom: Bow down! Bow down before your one and onliiieeeyiiieeeiiieeeooouaugh....pant...pant....pant.... ummm... what was I saying? Oh... yes... bowoooowowwowowowww oh good christ what the hell are you doing to me!