Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel both feature iconic properties of their respective comic book companies. Each features a character with some level of proven box office draw. Each wants to be the summer blockbuster. But who’s going to end up on top? I thought I would offer my own feelings on the subject. I will preface this by saying that I haven’t seen either one yet. I’ve had time commitments that have kept me away from IM3 and MoS is still on the horizon. These are merely my speculations.
Utterly Different Tones
The Iron Man movies did something really spectacular; they took a character I really couldn’t have cared less about and made me a fan. I used to read Marvel comics, but, even at the heyday of my interest, Iron Man just wasn’t a character I was that into. Tony Stark didn’t seem that interesting to me, despite the twists and turns his superhero career has taken.
The movie franchise, however, gave us a fantastic character, brought to life through some amazing writing and the incredible acting chops of Robert Downey Jr. The character and the actor are almost a perfect match for each other, and Downey owns Tony Stark. This version of Tony Stark is just so damned funny! That’s what made me want to like him, root for him, and go to his movies.
While I haven’t seen anything but the previews for MoS, I can tell that the tone is going to be much more serious. There aren’t a lot of jokes in any of the previews we’ve seen so far. I’m okay with that; Superman isn’t normally a joke-a-minute character, especially when he’s going up against a world-threatening villain in the vein of General Zod. He does have a slightly wry sense of humor, however, and I hope that comes across in the new film.
Box Office Champions
In its day, the original Superman: the Movie was an enormous hit. It spawned toys, sequels, and legions of Superman fans. Superman II followed up well, giving most audiences their first experience with General Zod and giving the villain a tagline that lingers to this day. “Kneel before Zod!”
Sadly, the producers proceeded to give us two more Superman movies that were utterly dreadful. And a Supergirl movie that was as painful as those, if not more so. When they tried to reboot the franchise with Superman Returns, it didn’t work. Personally, I loved the film, but a lot of people just couldn’t relate to it. The attempt to bring back the franchise as if nothing had happened and everyone had seen the original was a failure. MoS may be at a slight disadvantage as a result of that.
Iron Man 3 is a movie poised to succeed. The first two films were fantastic, and Avengers was pretty much the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen. They’d have to really cheap out and lame up IM3 in order to fail, and, from what I hear, that didn’t happen. IM3 is already a mega-success, setting a high bar for MoS to try and match.
Both the Superman and Iron Man franchises have characters we love, and those we love to hate. Both of the films this year feature some of the best known villains of their respective comics and some pretty amazing actors.
IM3 features the Mandarin. I was shocked they didn’t bring him out in the first movie, but I understand why the Ironmonger was a better choice, given the story they wanted to tell. I can’t wait to see how Sir Ben Kingsley portrays him, what his connection to the Ten Rings terrorist group from the first movie might be, and so on. Beyond Sir Ben, we have the usual suspects back in action. I’ve already said how amazing Robert Downey Jr. is, but Gwyneth Paltrow is pretty fantastic herself.
Superman’s franchise has plenty of beloved characters. Of course, as readers of my column know, Superman is my favorite superhero, so I’m eager to see how Henry Cavill portrays him. I didn’t watch The Tudors, but I hear he’s pretty brilliant in it. I also don’t know Michael Shannon very well, but he looks pretty intimidating as General Zod, so I’m open to the idea. Lawrence Fishburne is Perry White, and I know he’ll be great.
But for me, the casting news I was waiting for, almost more even than Kal-El, was Lois Lane. As great as Christopher Reeve was as Superman, Margot Kidder was every bit as great as Lois, and their chemistry is part of what made the original movie. To my delight, Amy Adams, one of my absolute favorite actresses working, snagged this crucial role. Part of what didn’t work for me about Superman Returns was a rather lackluster performance (IMHO, of course) by Kate Bosworth. Her Lois needed to be as tough, if not tougher, than Margot Kidder’s Lois, and I just didn’t feel she played the character that way. I have every confidence that Amy Adams can make Lois tough when she needs to be tough and vulnerable when she needs to be vulnerable.
Word of Mouth
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, gentle readers, that IM3 has fantastic word of mouth. I’ve been hearing it and threatening to pummel my friends if they spoil anything for me. But I do know that apparently I have to sit through the credits again. I’m amenable to that. If it’s a set-up for an Avengers 2, I’m more than ready to see it.
What you might not know is that I’ve heard some quotes from someone who has apparently seen some rough cuts of MoS. Without getting too specific, phrases like “Masterpiece”, “Equal to Dark Knight”, and “Breakout Performance” got bandied around. I’m trying to keep calm and carry on, but, honestly, I’m counting the days.
Both of these movies are ones I’m excited to see, but I’m sure it’s no shock to you that Man of Steel is the one I’m more excited for. I’m just a much bigger Superman fan than I am an Iron Man fan. Time will tell which ends up being the most successful and popular movie. Either way, there’s going to be a lot of popcorn eaten this summer.
Have you seen Iron Man 3? Tell us what you thought! (But no spoilers, please. I do read the comments on my articles, and I still haven’t seen the movie!) Are you excited for Man of Steel? Let us all know.