I did something smart Tuesday night and went to see "Iron Man" with Annie rather than coming home to watch the returns from North Carolina and Indiana. The movie is as entertaining as you've probably heard, with great performances from Robert Downey Jr. and Jeff Bridges--playing the tech-company executive from hell; he struck me as a distinctly more pleasant version of Steve Ballmer--in a fast two hours-plus directed with style by Jon Favreau.
I was not a huge comic-book fan as a kid, and before the seemingly ubiquitous "Iron Man" ads began running a month or two back, with press stories describing the movie immediately thereafter, I knew nothing about the character or backstory. Last night, while watching, I realized I still basically knew nothing--and this made the movie far more enjoyable. This was just four days after watching the "Harold and Kumar" sequel--a movie that, while certainly not as good as the first one, had some fun moments, but about which I'd read so much, so many reviews and features, that I knew what was going to happen when each scene began.
There are a bunch of things coming out this summer that I anticipate checking out--mostly "franchise" movies like Indiana Jones, Batman, the Hulk, "Get Smart." That they're franchises doesn't bother me; in the 21st century, they're at least equally classics as commodities. (With a few exceptions, you don't get to be either unless you've got something pretty powerful in terms of drama and narrative.) And they have their own prestige: Edward Norton is one of the best actors of our time, and he jumped at playing "Hulk" just as the even more lionized Downey did Iron Man. I think the key to whether or not I enjoy them, though, will be how well I manage to shield myself before the lights go down.