Issue 3 – The Content of Their Character

30 04 2008

May 2nd marks the release of a new superhero movie: Jon Favreau’s adaptation of Iron Man, with Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.

And I have no problems on this casting choice since Iron Man isn’t really a superhero as it’s really the clothes that make the Man.

In fact, since it’s all about the brains, he doesn’t even need to be inside the suit in the first place.

I checked on Wikipedia and during many arcs throughout the book’s run somebody else has worn the Iron Man armor — most notably James Rhodes, Tony Stark’s oldest and dearest friend — so based on all this, there really is no reason that this version of Stark has to scream SUPERHERO.

When you think about it Tony Stark is kind of a weak hero anyway.

Bad heart, shot nerves.

He’s not even a boy scout. He sleeps around.

A lot.

He’s fallen off the wagon.

A lot more.

You know that phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility”… Here’s a man who’s never heard of it.

Because of this, I know that Downey can handle the dark side of Tony Stark. I mean, who better to portray a man struggling with addiction, am I right…

He also looks the part.

You know, since Tony Stark’s older than the other superheroes. Not as old as Dr. Strange but old enough that he’s easily the adult in the room when compared to the younger superheroes.

(I also like that this and The Dark Knight are coming out at the same time.

I always had the impression that Tony Stark was like Bruce Wayne, in that they were the embodiment of upper class white male privilege and just how hollow said privilege can be and I’m really hoping Favreau focuses on this thread too.

UPDATE: Just saw it, and nope. At least not in this first film.)

So, Downey gets a pass.

But… I still think the actor who plays Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard) and how he would be better and here’s why:

Rhodes has always been the superhero when Tony Stark’s not and when he’s wears the armor the only reason he ain’t been better at it is that the lack of experience and skills. (But I bet he’s willing to learn.)

Actually, the more I think about it, why didn’t they just cast Howard as Iron Man himself?

And then I read Lance Mannion’s response, and I got an answer:

Yeah, yeah. I know why it is. I know why Downey’s Stark and Howard’s Jim Rhodes.

Tony Stark’s a white guy. Rhodes is black.

This has got to stop someday.

If Eartha Kitt and Halle Berry can play Catwoman—Ok, it’s stretching it to say Berry played Catwoman. But I blame the script and the ridiculous suit. Berry should have been able to play Catwoman on her head. Kitt, though, was only not the definitive Catwoman because Julie Newmar owned the role at the time. Otherwise, she was purr-fect.—if Kitt and Berry could be Selena Kyle, then Terrence Howard can be Tony Stark. Or Will Smith could be. Or Denzel Washington.

One of these days.

One of these days some little kid who is running around his backyard right now with a towel tied around his neck for a cape will have grown up to be an actor and get cast as his generation’s Superman or Batman or Iron Man and no one will notice that in another time he’d have had to hope that Hollywood made a movie version of Black Panther or Green Lantern in order to have a chance to play the superhero instead of the superhero’s best friend.

This week’s column is brought to you by the mind of Lance Mannion. I read his article about a year and a half ago just randomly searching for Iron Man news and I pleasantly surprised by the site and was amazed how much I retained from it. Please check it out: the movie and the site.

UPDATE: I just learned from Jesse that Favreau was really pushing for Downey to do it and if he couldn’t get him, Howard would’ve been next. So that kinda kills most of my article, but the point remains, why can’t more minorities play roles that where predominately portrayed by whites?




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