As Whiplash, the hateful Slavic super-genius who challenges armor-plated industrialist Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Iron Man 2, Mickey Rourke has a Boris Badenov accent, greasy hair, a pencil mustache and a predatory stare that would give Mike Tyson pause. The man doesn't look at people, he looks through them. It's the stare of a stone thug—a gangsta badass who came up from nothing and would be content to make do with nothing for the rest of his life, as long as he had the freedom to roam and the ability to create. Whiplash is surrounded by technology, by money, by the most spectacular comic book vistas that Hollywood can buy, and he can barely muster the energy to sneer.
Whiplash has the right idea.
The comic book film has become a gravy train to nowhere. The genre cranks up directors' box office averages and keeps offbeat actors fully employed for years at a stretch by dutifully replicating (with precious few exceptions) the least interesting, least exciting elements of its source material; spicing up otherwise rote superhero vs. supervillain storylines with "complications" and "revisions" (scare quotes intentional) that the filmmakers, for reasons of fiduciary duty, cannot properly investigate; and delivering amusing characterizations, dense stories or stunning visuals while typically failing to combine those aspects into a satisfying whole.
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