Will ‘Iron Man’ Ever Produce a Good Video Game? 0 133

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There are plenty of arguments to be made that Robert Downey, Jr.’s interpretation of Tony Stark/Iron Man has given us the most intriguing character in Marvel’s cinematic universe. Each of the other main superheroes has some appeal, to be sure: Thor is charming and comical, Captain America is relentlessly ethical, Hulk is endearing and hilarious… But none exhibits the depth of character or human range of emotion that we consistently see in Iron Man.

This, along with the fact that Iron Man’s standalone franchise got a head start on the others in 2008 (excluding the unimpressive hodgepodge of Hulk films that preceded the Avengers’ assembly), has helped the character to become arguably the most recognisable cinematic superhero. He’s even barging his way into the Captain America franchise in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, which we’ve looked ahead at here.

None of this, however, seems to have been able to help Marvel or any other developer using its license to create a memorable video game like those that have been created for some other prominent heroes (Batman and Spider-Man, in particular, come to mind). There have been attempts, but every example is either inadequate, built for a genre that excludes action, or employs Iron Man only as one of many superhero characters.

This review for the signature Iron Man game made for Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo systems (accompanying the 2008 movie and based on the same story), called the game “awful” and noted cheekily, “It’s games like this that make Tony Stark drink.” That’s a pretty harsh review, and frankly the comments and ratings for the follow-up, based on Iron Man 2, were almost as bad. This isn’t entirely unusual, however. It’s fairly common for video games based strictly on film plots to disappoint, often with too much focus on a faithful narrative and not enough emphasis on inventive gaming tactics or engaging action.

Iron Man has also been used as a headliner for games in the online bingo and casino gaming market, where character licenses are meant to attract fans of film and comics. Here you’ll find a range of promotions and ideas meant to help players embrace various gaming options, but it’s the characters and artistic quality of the games that really keeps people playing. The Iron Man game on the same platform features the hero front and center, raising his arm to shoot his signature energy beam right out of his palm, and in the description a “Missile Attack Bonus” is even teased. It’s certainly an intriguing alternative to more typical video games based on heroes, but it also falls into the category of excluding action.

On top of these options, and as alluded to before, Iron Man is featured in most every video game to feature collections of Marvel superheroes, which exist on a number of platforms. There are several Marvel options that are designed as mobile apps (and yes, they’ve been ranked). The popular series of LEGO animated video games has grown to include the likes of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. And online, the MMO Marvel Heroes 2015 employs a gigantic range of characters for a community of online RPG players. Among these examples there are some perfectly enjoyable versions of Iron Man to embody, and if nothing else they’re usually drawn and animated with beautiful accuracy, showcasing the sleek, famous suit of Tony Stark to great effect. But in none of these games is the character featured or emphasised more than any other mainstream hero.

It’s pretty clear considering all of this that there just isn’t a definitive Iron Man gaming option. Somehow or other, the most popular hero in the most lucrative film franchise in existence just doesn’t seem to inspire game developers. No remedy for this has been announced publicly as of yet. However, with Marvel rolling right along with a formidable lineup of upcoming films, the hope among fans is that one day an Iron Man game can become worthy of the character.

This is a guest post by Mark Givens, a freelance writer based out of Los Angeles. When he’s not working on his latest pitch or article, you can find Mark digging through his video game and Netflix queue.

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I’m a freelance film reviewer and blogger with over 10 years of experience writing for various different reputable online and print publications. In addition to my running, editing and writing for Thoughts On Film, I am also the film critic for The National, the newspaper that supports an independent Scotland, covering the weekly film releases, film festivals and film-related features.

I have a passion for all types of cinema, and have a particular love for foreign language film, especially South Korean and Japanese cinema. Favourite films include The Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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Deadpool and the Anti-Hero 0 137

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While the concept of the anti-hero is nothing new, the popularity of this archetype in recent decades certainly seems to be. Found as far back as ancient Greece and Rome, the anti-hero is simply someone who operates under some sort of moral ambiguity or who has some character flaws that keep him or her from being seen as a traditional hero.

Yet, for all of these flaws, we as an audience are drawn more and more to this type of character in everything from a watered down version in Disney films such as Tangled to hardcore offerings through television shows such as Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones – just to name a few. With the movie Deadpool currently in cinemas, we can give some new love to this most recent inductee of the anti-hero club.

Television, in particular, has offered up some of the darkest and scariest places and storylines of its history, with audiences eating it up and screaming for more. An anti-hero such as Walter White in Breaking Bad is someone we are simultaneously repulsed by and drawn to. Being forced to deal with a flawed healthcare system is something most of us can relate to fairly easily, and we applaud a character for fighting back in what he sees as the only means available to him, even while disagree with the lengths he goes to within the series. We sympathize with Walter, even when we don’t always agree with his choices.

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The same holds true for anti-heroes of past decades, with audiences embracing the concept of “The Man with No Name” from the Clint Eastwood spaghetti western Dollars trilogy of the 1960s and Michael Corleone of The Godfather fame. These characters are accepted along with their flaws because there is something about them and their situation that we can relate to and sympathize with. It’s the same reason that Han Solo tends to score higher on lists of the most popular Star Wars characters than Luke Skywalker, the series’ traditional hero, and why the original trilogy often tops lists of the best of the franchise.

Apparently, the double standard is alive and well within the anti-hero popularity phenomena, though, with audiences much more willing to accept men with flaws than women with them. We expect our female characters to support their flawed male counterparts and be instrumental in their development, but to not need someone else to develop themselves. Catwoman is one of the few exceptions to this idea, remaining a popular female anti-hero and thankfully still available for viewing through Netflix and DTV.

Marketing behind Deadpool plays on our sympathies and our curiosity by playing up the flaws in conjunction with the strengths. We can sympathize with the idea of someone previously used and rejected making a comeback with witty and sarcastic humor and some serious fighting skills. The character Deadpool gets to say and do what many of us would like to have the nerve to say and do to those that abuse, reject, or ignore our potential, turning his Special Forces skills to a mercenary lifestyle.

From Mad Max to Deadpool, our love for the anti-hero continues to grow as we’re given more opportunities to vicariously live out our fantasies of living in a complicated and conflicted world by acting according to our own flawed moral code – regardless of the legal or moral expectations. As long as we continue to fight the current structures of our society, the anti-hero will likely remain our favorite hero of choice, taking a stand and doing things we wouldn’t dare do ourselves but wish that we could.

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How Eco-Horror Movies Portray Energy Crisis, Pollution and Climate Change 0 86

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This is a guest post by regular contributor Maria Ramos.

More often than not movies reflect interests and fears of the current times back at us, either directly or veiled in metaphor. This is especially true in the past few decades, as humanity as a whole has started to become more aware of our influence on the environment and this has consistently been echoed back to us on screen.

In the 1950s, the threat was nuclear weapons and its hazardous effects. Today, the threat is climate change, particularly since we’ve become more aware of the global troubles that will ensue should we allow current consumption of fossil fuels to run rampant. However, no matter what the current danger, the silver screen has become an interesting funhouse mirror to amplify, distort, and reflect them, making a statement all its own.

After the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, the world became aware of the hazard of both large-scale destruction and the wrath of nuclear fallout. Both Japan and the United States released nuclear creature-features in 1954, Godzilla and Them!, though their approaches reflected each country’s point of view.

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The Godzilla franchise may have become known for its camp nature, but initially it was a metaphor for a godlike force of destruction, with director Ishiro Honda using scenes that purposefully evoked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Them!, on the other hand, viewed its gigantic ants as an unintended side product of mankind’s meddling who turned about and attacked the very forces who had created them.

The 1970s and 1980s brought increased awareness of the effects of pollution and toxic waste into the public eye, and so environmental horror changed as well. 1984’s C.H.U.D. served double-duty as a warning against both toxic waste pollution and 1980s corporate greed that led to the dumping of the waste into the sewers. In the 2000s, water pollution became the pollution du jour to fear, and films like 2012’s The Bay were caused not by toxic waste, but by agricultural runoff.

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Found footage eco-horror movie “The Bay”

With the advent of rapid global travel and high populations, epidemics are another on-screen threat that Hollywood has not shied away from. 2002’s 28 Days Later and 2013’s World War Z couched their epidemic through the ever popular zombie metaphor, while 2007’s I am Legend displayed its epidemic in more of a vampire variety. 2012’s The Crazies combined a few issues, with a polluted water supply infecting a town’s population with a virus that sent its residents into a frenzy.

Climate change issues of today have been especially well represented lately in environmental horror. This category is particularly topical given recent issues like the 2015 Paris Agreement. With a global increase of 80 percent between 1970 and 2004 alone in carbon dioxide, according to Direct Energy, the situations proposed in the following films seem less and less outlandish. 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow took a lot of flack for being an overblown special-effects fest, but as the general public has become more familiar with terms like “superstorm,” it has begun to seem less far-fetched than it did a decade ago. 2006’s The Last Winter, while featuring a ghost-heavy plot, also centered around the idea of destructive drilling practices being largely at fault.

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The effects of climate change in disasterbuster The Day After Tomorrow.

Increasing temperatures are a major factor in the destruction at the heart of 2009’s 2012 – though the temperature is of the Earth’s core and not the atmosphere and oceans, such as we are seeing today. And in 2014’s Into the Storm, shifting weather patterns due to atmospheric warming causes unprecedented tornado activity, similar to activity that has been seen in recent months.

People are influenced by the media that they consume, even something as seemingly diverting as horror movies. With the combination of awareness of issues as plot points in environmental horror and visibility in the news, the possibility of the public taking these issues seriously may become much more likely. If it is real enough to fear onscreen, it is real enough to fear in real life – and real enough to do something about.