Okay, no one asked for my opinion on the movie version of Iron Man,* and this isn't so much about that movie as a complaint about so many comic books and their ancillary products, including the ones I myself have worked on.
The movie itself is entertaining enough. It's got a great cast and enough unexpected humor that it should be a box office hit (except maybe in Afghanistan, ho-hum, what a novel idea to place the scenes of lawlessness there, and hey, let's make it in caves! Everyone knows bad guys live in caves in Afghanistan). I was kind of bored for much of it, because while the character interaction and funny bits were novel, the overall arc was tried-and-true, freshened up by brilliant interpreting of Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark. The cast looks like they're having fun for much of the movie.
Did I like this movie? Well, yeah, it was fun. Was I bored? Yeah, that too. Am I amazed whenever anyone finishes anything creative and don't they deserve kudos for things existing and being more-or-less entertaining? Hell yeah.
So what's my beef here?
I am so sick of comic book stories starting with the origin.
And I've had enough of the hero saving the day by fighting off something that only exists because of missteps made by our hero. The Silver Surfer wouldn't have to fight off Galactus if he hadn't brought Big G to Earth in the first place. Iron Man made a big mess and then he had to clean it up. I get that to have a credible threat, writers and editors always have to up the ante, which often means coming up with a threat as powerful as the hero, but can't there be external threats once in a while, where the hero actually has to save the world from something that he didn't create himself?
I know, I know. Finger-pointing. As an editor, I am guilty as charged. But there's so much pressure to tell certain types of stories. Everyone starts at the beginning, with the origin. It's simply DONE that way. To fight it, a team would need the support of creative and corporate interests. (An editor has the unrewarding job of forging compromises between corporate and creative interests, which means it's amazing that anything at all gets published.)
I'm sorry for ranting. I'm just tired of seeing the same structure over and over. Let's try starting the story in the middle, or heck, even at the end. It worked for David Lean.
*Want a great review? Read Heidi's.