things i don’t get about iron man

We’ve been All Avengers All the Time this summer, and I’m diggin’ it, sure. But after ad nauseum repetitions of the cartoons we’ve started casting around for other sources, landing inevitably on the live-action movies, which add a depth and realism to the Avenger stories that sometimes I’m not sure they can really bear.  Meaning, I find I start picking at things, plot or character things, that I seem content to let fly in the cartoon versions.

Luc is unsure as well.  He says the live action superhero movies have way too much “grown ups talking at other grown ups.” But he likes the spectacle of it all and just keeps his finger on the fast forward.  (I love that my kids have such confidence and power in their interaction with media.  They have no problem zipping over any bits they don’t care for, constructing, in this way, a narrative catered especially to their needs and interests of the moment.  Which is cool.)

Anyway.  This week, it’s been Iron Man and Iron Man 2.

I love this Iron Man Stance—in my prev post on the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers, they make use of this pose to add Epic Awesomeness to their already Epically Awesome flips—look again and you’ll see the dancers actually LAND in this pose after doing two hundred or so mid-air twisting triple axle handspring moves.  That clunking sound is my jaw hitting the floor.

Okay.  I love the first Iron Man movie, and am unsure of the second—although part 2 in any 3-part story is often a bit uncomfortable, coming as part 2 does, right in the middle, where all the moral ambiguity will tend to be.  Think of the unsettling feeling you get at the end of Empire Strikes Back.  So I’m withholding judgement on 2 until I see next summer’s Avengers (Joss Whedon’s Avengers! A confluence of geeky goodness that boggles my mind.), and the rumored Iron Man 3 to come on it’s heels.

But here’s the point of this post.  And I’m hoping someone can help me because, although, at a high-speed gloss level, I do enjoy both the Iron Man movies and especially Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark (how can such an asshole character be so charming?) , there are some crucial plot points that I just don’t get.

1.  Like why doesn’t Toby Stark just get the shrapnel surgically removed once he is back in the States? That’s a big one. I get the whole magnet-to-keep-the-shrapnel-from-working-its-way-further-into-his-body-as-a-stop-gap-measure thing. I do.  But once he’s back in high tech medical services world, why the heck wouldn’t he just get the shrapnel taken out?

2. But, okay, say we hand-wave that one away. It can’t be removed without killing him. Okay. So the magnet solution—it doesn’t have to be a super strong magnet to hold a few little pieces of metal in place, right? He doesn’t need a mega-battery in his chest, doesn’t need a palladium arc reactor in his body. Yes, it runs the suit, but War Machine can drive a suit without having a battery built into his body—the suit can have a battery separate from the body of the suit’s wearer. So why not just have a little battery for the magnet and have the arc reactor run the suit and then presto, no death threat from the palladium. There may be a good answer to this in the story that I missed…?

3. And, hey, although I love the scene in where Pepper puts her hand down in the deep pit in Tony Stark’s chest—one of the best scenes in the movie for me—but really, it makes no sense. Why does Tony need this deep well in his chest? Has his sternum been removed? What does that do to how his ribs work? And if the shrapnel is over his heart, why is the magnet/battery in the center of his body, instead of to the left, over his actual heart? Why would the magnet need to be so deep?  I’m confused.

It’s so freaky when she puts her hand inside him!  Ewww!  I love that part.

4. But here’s the big one. The battery is running the magnet. So why/how does it become linked to Tony’s heart itself (he says he’s going into cardiac arrest when he takes out the old battery) and WHY would he have a difference in experience, in Iron Man 2, when he puts the new super battery in?  That is, why does he act like he’s getting a big rush off of it? The battery isn’t powering his body in any way that I know of, it’s powering the magnet, but he acts like he just did a mega hit of cocaine or something. Huh?  Is this something that would be clear to me if I had read the actual comics?  It’s as if the battery IS his heart, and thematically, that is played out (in Iron Man 1).  But a battery doesn’t pump blood.  There is no way that I can see that physically that battery is supposed to replace his actual heart.  Not to mention that it’s in the wrong place.

“I have a battery because it’s hot, okay?  Just enjoy it.”

Is this a case of All Aboard the Fun Train! and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain? Or are there actual answers in the comics, or the movies, that I missed? Maybe someone can enlighten me.  Please.  Because for a story that I’m being exposed to on a daily basis right now, having these sorts of plot problems niggling away at the back of my brain, well, it’s enough to keep me awake at night.

Because I’m weird like that.

9 thoughts on “things i don’t get about iron man

  1. Tracie

    Noah says that it wouldn’t be enough time to take the magnet out and the shrapnel before it killed him. However he did say that it explains it in the comics but he has not read them all. =)

  2. Tracie

    O David say the movie ironman is way cooler than the comic iron man.=) Its cause it is Robert Downey Jr in the movies but, he is no spiderman or batman.

  3. David

    I found this page doing the geekiest of all things; googling the exact inconsistencies you discussed above!

    I love the Iron man films, but I find myself asking the exact same questions about the ARC reactor. It seems that they almost forget the original explanation of Tony’s condition for the second film. In the first the whole point was he made the ARC reactor in the desert to power the magnet in his chest, which was keeping the shrapnel away from his heart. But in the second film it seems like for the sake of drama, and a few throw away metaphors about Tony running on batteries, they change the whole concept so that the ARC reactor itself is somehow keeping him alive. I don’t actually have a problem with the idea of that. If that’s the actual idea. I could even suspend any questions about how, if it wasn’t for the fact they’d already explained the point of it very differently in the first film. It’s the inconsistency that bugs me. Just seems like they wrote it one way for the first film, then decided they needed to completely change it for the second for the story idea idea they had. It’s a shame, and I have to wonder if a better writer would have been able to reconcile it all better.

    1. maya Post author

      Hi David, thanks for stopping by! I know, right? Wtf? But if it is just a battery to keep the shrapnel out of his chest, the entire plot of the second film falls apart because you don’t need a fancy palladium battery to do that, so he could just not have palladium in his chest and not die. He could use a couple of energizers or something, ha. Like you, I like the idea of a battery powered man, I could work with that, if they had set that up. But they spend all that time and effort setting up the other story in the first movie…it’s confusing.

      Oh well? I guess it’s a lot of HEY, LOOK OVER THERE!!!

  4. David

    It’s probably my biggest pet peeve. I hate inconsistency in writing. Sci-fi as a genre is based on made up or exaggerated science. So there’s no excuse. If you make something up yourself, you can define the rules. The only rule you have to stick to is don’t contradict yourself. Make up the science, but make it make sense within your own narrative. It’s a shame because as I said, I love the Iron man films, but the flaws in the second took a lot away from it for me.

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