Thursday, July 11, 2013

Iron Man Last

I don't rewrite the books that I read.  Not even novels.  I might like this part of the story, or that character is too stock or too dull.  This twist works, and all of that is drivel, and sometimes the author is too brilliant/obscure for me.  (Which says something, since Faulkner and Tolstoy are among my favorites.)  But to sit down and contemplate where the story left the rails, and how I would fix the wreck...well, I don't do that very often or with much heart.

Movies are another business.

Reading means that I can stage the events inside my head, serving as the director working with good material and bad.  How can you hate what you spent twenty hours reading?

Movies are brief and bright, entering the brain fully formed.

My daughter and I just finished rewatching THE AVENGERS.  We own the blue-ray, but I saw that Loki and the gang were appearing on Netflix, which is so much easier than dealing with a scratchable disk and losing your place over the next three days.  I enjoyed the movie in the theater, in 3D, and it hasn't aged too badly.  There's a formula to follow.  The 15,000 names at the end of the movie worked hard and spent tons of other people's money, and they got a lot out of the formula, nobody distracted by anything new.  Why a super-advanced species of warriors would allow themselves to be taken out by nuke...well, that's one of Hollywood's favorite cliches.  But still, I like the banter, and the Banner.

My daughter likes Ironman.

My daughter is eleven.  Maybe it's Tony's drinking and womanizing that appeals to her.  More likely, it's the charming Bob playing the title role.  And the action too.  Since she was two, my girl has shown a considerable fondness for fists and measured gore.

She and I went to Ironman 3 in the theater.

And this is one of those movies that begs the audience for a rewrite.

Ben Kingsley.  Fine actor.  And he inhabits a half-interesting character.  The twerpy drunk actor playing a role.  The real bad guy is younger and more handsome, and far more boring, and that's why he hires a face and voice to make the world pay attention.

At least that's the way it looked to me.

There isn't a lot of drama here.  The millions of dollars make noise, but the formula is applied inefficiently, the products far from clinical grade.

So let's say the studio realizes the problem and comes to me.  (Not the most likely story twist, I will admit.)  They come to me and say, "Give us your best shot, Bob."

Here it is:

Start the movie with what looks like the final fight sequence.  And by that, I mean the handsome, boring bad guy and his minions are waging war against Ironman and the newly empowered Pepper.  No deep explanations or back story is necessary.  Audiences can piece together their own logic from the clues.  Really, everything on the screen is totally familiar.  Start with a war.

One big change is that in my script, no set of contingencies allows a platoon of computer-run Ironmen.  Villains have minions, which is fine.  But Tony can't just crack open his toy box and fling out more plastic soldiers than his opponent.  That's diluting the formula.  That defeats the whole idea of a hero standing tall.  Of course a true arms manufacturer would go into mass production about two minutes after the first successful test flight.  But if we're concerned about that bit of logical weirdness, then we aren't lasting long at the important meetings with Hollywood suits.

Anyway, in my script the big battle ends with one dead bad guy and Pepper endowed with superpowers.

My point is:  Stark and Pepper are a great couple, and they deserve a movie full of witty banter and tensions and such.  And they definitely deserve more of a story than some noise stapled to end of the story about Tony curing his woman's hot flashes.

So, go back to the first, best incarnation of the three movies.  It's easy to complain that no man, genius or not, could cobble together a workable Ironman suit in a cave.  But assume that it is possible.  That implies that the suit can't be that hard to build to a ten percent measure.  By that, I mean that a man with vision could use scrap titanium and one-day output of Foxconn to build a division of armored flying soldiers.  Ben Kingsley has been hired to work the movie.  Use him as the leader.  Put him in some fictional form of Pakistan.  And then put on a real war where the flying soldiers are to us what the hoplites were to the Persians:  Well-trained troops who alone would be cut down, but in formation would be unbeatable.

The hoplites grab the Pakistani nukes.

Cities burn.

And then force Tony Stark to come up with some compelling heroic fix.  In other words, stopping the nukes where the alien opponents in THE AVENGERS couldn't.

And Pepper becomes an effective superhero in her own right.  

My daughter would approve of that, I'm sure.