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I never read Iron-Man comic books when I was a kid because, really, who cares? He was a pretty generic-looking, expressionless hero who seemed to take himself way too seriously considering the fact that he was also a big, clunking metal person. Iron-Man seemed like the kind of superhero you'd be into if you were a child with aspirations to become a European automobile engineer or CEO for an investment bank. I preferred the more sardonic, wise-cracking heroes like Spider-Man and Man-Thing. I also read Howard the Duck comic books, though I don't remember ever actually laughing at them; I just knew they were *supposed* to be funny.

Now that I am a grown-up who still likes sarcasm and video games but also enjoys industrial design and mid-century modern furniture, I can kind of see the appeal of the Iron Man motion picture. The billboard and poster advertisements are very slick, simple and iconic--kind of like an ad for an Apple product.

Here, Iron Man isn't necessarily doing anything--he's not shooting laser eyebeams at an Al Qaeda jeep, for instance. (does iron man have laser eyes? does al qaeda have jeeps?) He's just striking a confident pose and being all kinds of suggestive, forcing your imagination to ask many questions. Like, What do those hand-lanterns do? And, Could is that metal suit impervious to bullets or rockets or pricker bushes or some kind of magnetically charged homing missile filled with knives, each with a small bullet scotch-taped to it? You just don't know, and I like that. (This "standing there and doing nothing" aesthetic can work against a super-hero film, too, as it did in those X-Men: The Last Stand movie posters I used to see all over the city, where the various characters were just hanging around and being all weepy, like a teenage girl who just got stood up for a Morrissey concert. Here, the mind asks a different set of questions. Like, What kind of poetry are these X-Men into? And, Man, I wonder if they're still sad because all those Mexican emo kids got beat up? Wow, when did Wolverine become such a puss?) I really am pleased someone decided to run these posters everywhere, especially after seeing the Iron Man motion picture's less earlier, less impressive teaser posters.

The trailers for the Iron Man motion picture have revealed a few robot-oriented action sequences that seem to be pretty pulse-quickening, too, and that's certainly something my stalled adolescent brain can get behind. Also, my ears have been very pleased by the many zippy and clangy sound effects employed to capture of the movement of robot men of various sizes, weights and sophistication of design. It's good to know Iron Man is carrying on the rich tradition pioneered by the movie Heartbeeps and John Tesh and Mary Hart, the original animatronic hosts of "Entertainment Tonight."

However! There is one particular thing that keep bugging me about this movie, and that is the (probably necessary but often annoying) "training" sequence of the film, where the ordinary person starts discovering his new super powers, with sometimes hilarious results. (Crash! Boing! Fart noise!) This kind of thing was fun to watch in Spider-Man because, seriously, it was Spider-Man and what's not fun about that? It was less fun to watch in The Dark Knight where Batman sees the Batmobile for the first time and is all, "Bitchin' ride, Alfred!" and then Alfred hands him the keys and says, "And now it's *your* bitchin' ride, Batman, Sir." And it was not one bit of fun in The Hulk where the Hulk was at a fancy restaurant, trying to drink a class of Chablis and kept accidentally smashing the wine glass in his hand, which would only make him angry and therefore cause him to smash more wine glasses and finally the snooty French waiter comes over to his table and says, "Sir, might I suggest a drinking straw?" and then the Hulk gets super-mad and smoke comes out of his ears and the waiter's eyes bug out and, man, you just know what's coming next.

The film studio behind Iron Man has released a couple of the film's early training scenes for all to see on the Internet. Here is the latest one, where Tony Stark is messing around with his Repulsor (so?) rays:

It's a bit of fun but once Iron Man really starts flying and gets all disoriented I suddenly lose all interest in this film. I guess there is a certain naturalism to all those "how does this crazy thing work???" shenanigans but every time I see a clip of Tony Stark flailing around and screaming while figuring out the flight mechanics of his robot suit, my brain automatically adds the theme song from the television show, "The Greatest American Hero":

WE FIRST MET ON 04.14.2008

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