The real world is a chaotic and disheartening place. Once again a steady stream of work has kept me from being able to get my thoughts out as expediently as I would like. The major flaw in establishing a schedule is the feeling one gets when falling behind. However, rather than allowing that feeling to defeat me, here’s a little something that combines Wednesday’s comic content with Thursday’s thoughts on writing.
Let’s talk about Iron Man and Batman.
It’s undeniable that there are similarities between the Armored Avenger and the Dark Knight, so allow me to get those out of the way. Both characters dress up in self-designed suits to punch out bad guys, act like your typical celebutard to rival any of the Kardashian sisters whenever anybody’s looking, and actually use their fortunes to undermine the more dastardly uses of their companies’ resources. Oh, and both maintain disturbingly large amounts of data about the other superheroes around them, just in case one of them does a face heel turn and decides that reducing the nearest city to rubble is more fun than saving the various kittens stuck in its trees.
This is where the similarities end, however, and while Batman is one of my favorite superheroes of either major universe, I’m still a Marvel True Believer at heart. The reason I prefer Iron Man to Batman has to do with the depth of Tony Stark. It’s something that’s existed for quite a while and only recently exploded into the mainstream, and it’s based on a different foundation than Batman.
Bruce as a young boy sees his parents get shot and killed, and as a result is driven to become a force of vengeance and natural justice. His wounds are internal ones, deep mental scars that border on psychosis. He’s badass, to be certain, but he’s also not quite right in the head. As the Christian Bale version says in Batman Begins, he “clearly has issues,” a funny observation coming from the same person who played Patrick Bateman.
Tony, on the other hand, grows up knowing his father and instead of being vengeful from a young age is genius-level smart. He carries on the family business of making things that blow up for the men & women who carry such things around at the behest of tax-paying conservatives, and it’s only after a brush with the dark and bloody world he helped create that he snaps himself out of a haze of booze, broads and Bentleys to do something about it. So instead of being a driven character that is motivated by the loss of family, we see a man who is struggling to change not only the world around him, but himself as well.
Batman has only ever been Batman. While this by no means makes him a shallow character, it does necessitate a certain single-mindedness in his character. His quest for justice in Gotham City may weary him at times, as he is only human, but as he doesn’t let a personal life or much of anything short of severe injury stand between him and his goals, he’s never out of action for long. There’s also the fact that according to some authors, Batman’s had ninja training, and we all know what unstoppable killing machines ninja are, even if Batman refuses to kill.
Iron Man isn’t made of iron. When he removes his suit, it’s difficult for him to be seen as heroic or even admirable. He’s an alcoholic, a womanizer, and something of an arrogant, selfish prick. And unlike Bruce Wayne’s public face, it’s less of an act and more of who he really is. He wants to be heroic, to live up to the deeds and accolades associated with Iron Man, but outside of the armor it’s all to easy for him to fall short of those high expectations. He’s a study in duality, even moreso than Batman, and that, to me, is what makes him so compelling.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the goddamn Batman. But Iron Man, to me, is a more interesting character and keeps me coming back to the Matt Fraction-penned ‘Invincible Iron Man’ title every month. There is, essentially, more to write when it comes to Tony Stark, and that’s without even mentioning his association with the Avengers or his own dark pantheon of villains.
There’s also the fact that his name is the cue for a Black Sabbath song. This is awesome.