Monday, December 22, 2014

Recap: "Iron Man" Part 2: Life and Construction

When we last left our... well, "hero" is such a strong word. Tony Stark isn't the hero type. Clearly. Let's say "protagonist." Anyway, we last left the jerk as he came home from a three month stint as a prisoner in an Afghanistan cave where he built himself a metal suit to escape. Though I'm not sure what one would call such a literally iron-clad man.

Wait! That's it!

You'd call him "Metal Suit Guy!"
In Tony's limo, Pepper insists that they take him to a hospital, but Tony absolutely insists on two things. A Whopper and a press conference.

Tony: "Cheeseburger first."

After their Burger King run, they arrive at the location of the impromptu press conference, where Obadiah waits for his boy, Tony. As everyone gets ready for the media circus, Pepper gets approached by this friendly-looking guy who introduces himself as "Agent Phil Coulson."

Agent Coulson: "... with the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division."
Pepper: "That's quite a mouthful."
Agent Coulson: "I know. We're working on it."

He gives her his card and tells her that they need to debrief Tony regarding his escape from the Ten Rings, and she promises to set something up. Not sure why I even mention this; I'm fairly certain that this Agent Whoever will never appear again.

He's almost a nameless extra, really. Sorry to waste your time by bringing it up.
Now, Tony's been acting like he always does since he came back, with snark and sarcasm, and his friends have all followed suit. But Tony has definitely changed. Tony Stark loves attention and making a show. But when he arrives at his press conference, he's actually ridiculously casual. He stutters a lot and asks everybody to sit on the floor with him while he eats his burger and rambles on for a bit about his dad before announcing that after seeing Americans killed by the weapons he created to protect them, Stark Industries is pulling out of the weapons business. Effective immediately. No backsies.

Obadiah: "What we should take away from this is that Tony's back! And, uh, he's healthier than ever...."

Obadiah later meets with Tony in front of the gigantic Arc Reactor powering Stark Industries.

Obadiah: "That went well."

He talks with Tony about how this is going to alienate all the shareholders, break government contracts, and all the other legal rigamarole.

Obadiah: "We're iron mongers; we make weapons."

This is the running gag of the Iron Man films; offhanded references to comic book code names. Here, we have Obadiah's comic alias, Iron Monger. You may have noticed, seeing as how I put that line on the screen.

Tony wants to explore future of Arc Reactor technology, but Obadiah insists that it's simply not possible to make the technology cost-effective enough. Except he keeps dropping subtle hints that he knows about a certain something....

Tony: "Could you have a lousier poker face? Just tell me, who told you?"

Tony undoes his shirt and Obadiah's spirits lift. He tells Tony to let him deal with the fallout from all this as they try to make the new direction work.

Obadiah: "No more of this 'ready, fire, aim' business."

Sometime later, Pepper Potts watches a cameo of Jim Cramer from Mad Money rant on the TV about how Stark stock is plummeting, when she gets a message from her boss on her phone.

Tony: "How big are your hands?"

In one of the best scenes in the movie, she goes down to his workspace and finds him tinkering around with his own ticker. He's made a better arc reactor and needs to take the old one out. The catch is that the old electromagnet has a loose wire and it keeps shorting. He needs her to lift the wire out.

Pepper: "Oh, God, there's pus!"
Tony: "It's not pus, it's an inorganic plasmic discharge; it's from the device, not from my body."

It would certainly be a shame if this discharge started flooding your body and poisoning you, huh, Tony?
But I bet nothing like that will ever happen.
Pepper fixes it... but also takes out the electromagnet on accident.

Pepper: "What's wrong?"
Tony: "Oh, nothing, I'm just going into cardiac arrest."

She manages to plug in the new reactor in time and save her boss.

So, that Arc Reactor. How the heck does it work? Well, if we take only this film into context, it's some kind of semi-cold fusion-ish plasma process that they keep intentionally vague. But in light of the further films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe... I have a theory.

So, it's basically accepted as unofficial canon that Howard Stark reverse-engineered the Arc Reactor from studying the space-bending Tesseract from the Captain America film. My theory is that Howard Stark found a way to warp space. Just a little bit. Just enough to give some particles a little extra push. (Which is why there's always some kind of swirly energy seen in Arc Reactors.) These supercharged particles then have enough energy to be used in clean cold fusion.

The only problem then was that Howard Stark couldn't find the right substance as nuclear fuel. Not only is that a major part of Iron Man 2, but in the next film we'll also see that Palladium has some drawbacks.

So Arc Reactor technology was deemed to be nifty, but useless. (Confirmed in dialogue by Obadiah.) However, the general principle of bending space to impart kinetic energy on particles would then be refined by Tony and used to develop "repulsor" technology. At least, that's my theory.

Anyway, Tony tells her to throw out the old reactor and gets to work cleaning off his desk to make room for a new project. We cut to Rhodey talking to some rookie Air Force while giving the standard sci-fi "machines will never replace people" spiel in reference to pilots and unmanned drones. Insert Age of Ultron joke here. Tony comes up and tries to talk to him about his new idea, but Rhodey just wants him to get some rest.

Later, Tony begins a project that he calls "Mark II." He activates a simple hologram of his previous armor and begins modifying it. And we actually see that Tony's still not 100% back to his usual self. He keeps his new project on a private server because he doesn't know who to trust, even though he's been surrounded by nothing but his friends and mentor for the past few days.

Obadiah wants his Arc Reactor tech. Rhodey wants him to keep building weapons. Right now, Tony can only trust himself. And in order to make sure he stays away from any potential traitors, he's shutting himself away from the world to build something that will shut him away even further. Building the armor might be the only thing keeping him from experiencing PTSD, but it's still a crutch.

Meanwhile, in the desert of Afghanistan, a scarred Raza has the Ten Rings hard at work uncovering the remains of the Mark I. It's a short scene, but it let's you know that Raza will no doubt be back for his inevitable revenge.

Best served cold.
As that happens, Tony works with the robot arm he built to win a science fair when he was a kid ("Dummy," not Optimus Prime) on his suit, further distancing himself from the real world by chiefly interacting with his own creations, JARVIS included. It's an amazing sequence, but it still shows how utterly broken he is; the attention whore has gone into hiding.

After a lot of hard work, Tony ends up hitting the wall during a flying test in a scene that was in all the trailers. This inspires Tony to create palm-mounted flight stabilizers. He destructively demonstrates one to Pepper, who tells him that Obadiah's there to see him.

Tony walks upstairs and finds Obadiah playing a piece of music written by Antonio Salieri, in a bit of homage and foreshadowing. In the film Amadeus, Salieri was portrayed as being a successful composer who knew that the younger, more talented Mozart was the real genius of the two. Hmm. I wonder if this is some kind of foreshadowing.

Obadiah tells Tony that the Board of Directors is worried about Tony and is filing an injunction against Tony for the whole "ruining the company and losing them money" thing.

Tony: "I'm being responsible! That's the new direction for me-for the company."

And so the truth comes out. Tony is using Stark Industries as an outlet for his personal demons. Is this morally responsible? Probably. Is this legal? Probably not. Tony argues that they have the controlling shares in the company, but Obadiah brings up the fact that the Board has rights, too. And Tony is abusing his power. Unable to argue his point, Tony leaves, refusing to give Obadiah the specs for his Arc Reactor.

On what Tony announces as the eleventh day of testing, he finally manages to achieve successful hovering using his boots and stabilizers. And sometime later, he suits up for the first time in his shiny, silver armor. JARVIS broadcasts into his armor, and Tony finally emerges from his garage by flying into the sky. But much like Icarus, he flies a bit too high. In the cold night air of the upper atmosphere, ice builds up and freezes his systems. Luckily, he manages to get his armor rebooted faster than the Hulk's film series.

After a successful crash landing through his whole house into his garage, he finds his old Arc Reactor in a glass box, engraved with the words "PROOF THAT TONY STARK HAS A HEART." Awww, that Pepper sure is a dynamite girl.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, they're still piecing together the Mark I. Just to remind you they're in the movie.

Tony Stark makes thorough notes to JARVIS about the problems with his armor (mainly the ice). To fix the problem, he decides to build a whole new armor with the cutting edge fabrication system he apparently has using a gold-titanium alloy. After he sees the projected model, he decides to add some "hot rod" red because not only does he not want to look like a flying Oscar, Tony loves that supercar look. As he does this, he's drinking some kind of greenish-brown drink that will no doubt look familiar to fans of Iron Man 2. Foreshadowing?

It'll take a while for his armor to be built, so he decides to finally emerge from his cave and go crash a benefit dinner he funds. As he arrives, he mistakes Stan Lee for Hugh Hefner and says hi to Obadiah.

"Your creator walks among you, Tony Stark! Excelsior!"
Inside, he meets up with Agent Coulson who asks for a meeting. He absent-mindedly says yes and goes over to dance with the gorgeously attired Pepper Potts. They dance for a bit before the awkward sexual tension overwhelms them and the go out for some air. They debate for a minute over whether the dance was awkward or harmless before nearly kissing, and Tony goes to the bar to solve the problem the only way he knows how: booze. While there, non-intrepid reporter Christine Everheart shows up and berates him about all his weapons that are currently being used to terrorize Gulmira, Yinsen's hometown. Apparently, Stark Industries has been doing some deals under the table. He confronts Obadiah who basically says "It was me. I'm the bad guy. Also, I told filed that injunction" before waltzing off.

To me, this was the biggest misstep of the film. To be fair, Tony was obviously not in the mood for Obadiah's usual smooth-talking, but come on, Obie. You could have lied just a little bit. Tell Tony that one of the board members has been doing deals under the table, but you don't know which one? Tell Tony that you're being manipulated by forces beyond your control, and you're really on his side? I'm pretty sure that rule one of secret villainy is don't tell the hero that you're the villain. Your betrayal will surely be sudden but inevitable.

Tony goes home and watches the news about Gulmira while tinkering with his gauntlet. After taking out his anger on his possessions with his repulsor-based flight stabilizers, he suits up with his new armor-put-on-machine to take the fight to the Ten Rings. Arriving in Gulmira, he saves the local inhabitants with his many gadgets and leaves one of the Ten Rings leaders to the mercy of the former refugees. Well, he's dead.

"I'm sure that they won't decide to go all 'mob justice' on the fat bastard."
After proceeding to destroy some larger Stark weapons, Tony gets spotted by a couple of U.S. fighter jets who got suspicious about all the terrorist getting attacked. Rhodey gets brought in and, on a hunch, calls Tony. Tony denies everything and hangs up. After getting fired at, Tony calls Rhodey back (whose phone rings with the 60's Iron Man theme) and tells him the truth.

After an aerial scuffle which leads to Tony having to save one of the pilots, he manages to escape. Rhodey starts worrying about what to tell the press.

Tony: "Uh, training exercise; isn't that the usual BS?"
Rhodey: "It's not that simple."

Cut to Rhodey making a statement to the press about an unfortunate training accident. Of course. Obadiah sinisterly watches this on his TV, and Pepper walks in on Tony trying to get his heavily-dented armor off.

Tony: "Let's face it, this is not the worst thing you've caught me doing."

To what extent will Tony take this new direction? Will his friends support him or abandon him? And what was the worst thing Pepper caught him doing? Find out in Part 3! Except for that last thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment