Friday, March 18, 2011

Warrior 1 and Iron Man 2

I sat down and began re-watching Iron Man 2 in order to grab the Russian mannerisms and style from the performance of Mickey Rourke for next week's three-day marathon of role-playing at GaryCon. [Ed. note: I re-wrote some of his origin below for better flow and grammar. It is essentially the same though.]

Warrior One
My character starts as a Russian boy who's father, a radical physicist, is run over by a black SUV as the Soviet Union begins to fall. His superiors had him working on a secret project [codename: Warrior] to create a one-man army that would hold the Soviet states together and restore power to the old guard.

As he lay dying in their Moscow apartment, he forced his only child, Aleksandr, nearly legally blind, to memorize ALL the material formulas and designs for the battlesuit. Even more brilliant than his father, and suffering from severe macular degeneration, he has one unique gift: an eidetic memory so efficient he can forget no detail, no matter how trivial, even years after the fact. At his father's grave, he vows to one day build and unleash this weapon on the United States for destroying his country and his life.

Warrior One - modified concept from Crimson Dynamo of Marvel <br />ComicsHe is sent to an orphanage, where he teaches himself how to live among the sighted using the faintest of clues. A natural autodidactic, he learns everything about the world of physics he can find in the library, memorizing entire volumes as they are read to him by younger boys. By age 16, he finished his schooling in St. Petersburg but can find no job in the Russian Federation for a blind physicist. M.I.T. hears about his intellect and sheer brilliance and offers him a full scholarship in the U.S. - and later, if he is approved, he may have an opportunity to develop cybernetic vision for both machines and people - that is, if he's interested?

He is.

Planning to gain their full confidence and get access to the needed restricted materials for his revenge, Alex designs a powerful High-Definition interface that gives its operator BETTER than normal human vision. After it is shown to work for machine intelligences, he declares that he himself will be the first test subject...

...and the first thing the brilliant bitter youth sees is the smiling faces of his co-workers! It has a stunning effect on him, and because of his highly trained mind, he cannot stop thinking about them.

He will never forget their love and acceptance of him; their pride at his success. He will never forget the kiss from the pretty Sarah, the backslapping and joy emanating from Leonard and Shane. They are now part of his 'hard drive.'

After they left, he sat alone in the darkness for hours, replaying the event again and again. He decided then that he would put all the materials back [quietly] and end his secret mission.

Then September 11th came.

Sarah was onboard American Airlines flight 11 leaving Boston for Los Angeles that morning; it was the first plane hijacked, the first to crash into the Twin Towers. In a horrible coincidence, Leonard and Shane were being interviewed by an Air Force general for a space defense project when they were killed by the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

Alex saw for the first time that ANY nation can fall in a day and what he has memorized must be used for what is good not evil. With his help, Homeland Security was able to find multiple terrorist cells in record time and eliminate them completely.

For this action, he was offered a full American citizenship, which he gladly accepted - and is now on the forefront of waging a never-ending war against evil in any form - as Warrior One.

[Character concept image modified from Marvel comic's Crimson Dynamo]
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Iron Man 2: Again
In re-watching Iron Man 2, something jumped out at me.

Tony is wearing the weight of the world, he is dying, and he gives up his corporation to Pepper to run. He's making a big show of himself, not only personally but with the Expo and even mocking the Senate committee, and still ends up winning in the end.

I am perfectly aware of the happy ending syndrome, and it annoys me if it is not earned, but I think something a little subtle slipped past me and most viewers the first viewing BECAUSE Tony is acting so reckless and wild.

In fact, Tony makes a lot of jokes, hides a lot of pain and isolation, but frankly, makes a couple of terrific tactically wise moves.

He even says at one point "Contrary to popular belief, I know exactly what I am doing!"

Here's the two moves, I thought were smart, and maybe this film deserves a little more respect than it got - at least from me.

One, after his announcement "I am Iron Man!" Tony KNOWS he's going to have to face 1) the U.S. Government and 2) anyone who hates him. He needs help; he needs a second Iron Man.

Fighting the U.S. Government? A cinch. He IS one with the suit, and they cannot take away his life support; it'd be "indentured servitude." BUT TONY DOES HAVE A SUIT ANYONE CAN WEAR, already built - War Machine.

And it is NOT in his colors. It's a spare? For who? The guy who has his secret lair code - Rhodey? Look, I'm pointing out that Tony ALWAYS wants Rhodey to step up and join him - but Rhodey has got to do it on his own. Same with Pepper - Tony KNOWS she's competent, but she does not.

What about Tony being drunk in the party? It is unfortunate, but Tony plays it a little loud, folks. No, I am serious. Once the fight begins, he stops stumbling. He is in great pain emotionally, but something about his UNWILLINGNESS to chase Rhodey and his anger at the crowd he was playing to shows some other calculations in his tactics IMO.

You see, Tony KNOWS everyone is watching him all the time - been that way since he was a kid. And doubly more so as Iron Man. How CAN he turn that to his advantage? Can he serve as a decoy? If he plays decoy to draw fire, how can he run his company or keep America safe?

You see, I don't think Tony is unaware of the effects of his actions; he's just so damn brazen and brilliant, he doesn't mind looking the fool to get the job done.

Two, I think Tony resurrects the Stark Expo for a two-fold reason - to get all his enemies out in the open - and to possibly gather his friends [corporate buddies] together. WHEN a fight breaks out - and yes, Virginia, when you tell the WORLD you are Iron Man and you ARE appearing at THIS location, you ARE trying to flush them out - he can have the homefield advantage and take all the collateral damage himself - no more fights on the freeway, thank you very much.

When the whole thing is blown up, Tony doesn't even flinch. He expected it. Pepper wants to resign her position as Stark Industries CEO, and Tony, heart now fixed, enemies exposed and defeated, Expo having served its purpose burning in the background, takes it back just as easily as he gave it away.

As if it were a tactical move, not a childish avoidance of responsibilities.

Sure, Tony can be petty - did he REALLY need that award from the Senator he was mocking? No, not at all.

But he knew what he was doing the entire time -and everyone else had to react to him, not the other way round. Even his first fight with Whiplash shows his preparedness and ability to turn a crappy situation into a victory. In minutes.

So watch it again, and keep in mind, while everyone is trying to do their job, Tony Stark is trying to save the world -even when he is dying.

That's a pretty cool message IMO. I think I just ratcheted Iron Man 2 up two slots.

Way to go, Tony.

"To whom much is given, much is required."


Amen.

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