Episode 97: Pimp My Ride of Violence

The Overthinkers tackle Iron Man 2.

Matthew Wrather hosts with Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, Josh McNeil, and John Perich to overthink Iron Man 2.

(We had some technical issues with this one. Sorry about the audio quality.)

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11 Comments on “Episode 97: Pimp My Ride of Violence”

  1. RiderIon #

    I was thinking about that passport scene this morning in the shower and it serves two purposes: the first is that it establishes our next locale and what will take place (Monaco and the Formula 1 race) and the second is cinematic flavor. Iron Man 2 is a comic book movie as opposed to a movie about a character that happens to have a comic book. If you broke Iron Man 2 down into say, a 6 issue mini series then issue 1 would end with Ivan Vanko getting his passport and the ticket for the Formula 1 race. Issue 2 would begin with Tony Stark arriving in Monaco, which is exactly what course the film follows. Sorry if that isn’t coherent, I’ve running on few hours of sleep.


  2. perich OTI Staff #

    Because I glossed over this in the podcast: I liked this movie. I’m glad I saw it in the theaters with a friend. It’s phenomenally better than what superhero movies have led me to expect. See it.


  3. Sylvia #

    1) Didn’t Forbes come out with a list a couple of years ago of the wealthiest fictional characters?

    2) I don’t think the world in Iron Man 2 is at peace. I think the situation is such that other governments/companies lack of over threatening actions are at a standstill because no one knows how to react to or attack the Iron Man suit. The stagnation of antagonistic action is being interpreted as peace.

    3) The group vs the individual. There are several groups vying for something in this movie. But, everything that happens pretty much hinges on the whims of Tony Stark. Perhaps whims isn’t rhe correct word. Everything that happens up to Nick Fury saying “get your act together” hinges on the actions of man who is terrified of dying. You can have as many government and corporations and military groups planning and controling whatever you want, but still on some level you cannot plan or anticipate how much an event can hinge on the emotion reactions of one person. Follow the thread of reasoning long enough and you get to Hari Seldon’s plan failing because he couldn’t calculate for The Mole.

    4) Stan Lee is Larry King. How can you miss that cameo?


  4. Chris #

    Sylvia: Forbes does that list every year. This year, some dude from Twilight won. Back in the day, Santa Claus would always win, but then Forbes removed him because of complaints. Tony Stark has shown up on the list a few times. As have Mr. Burns and Scrooge McDuck. They’re both on this year’s list, I know that.


  5. Lara #

    Haven’t seen the movie, so I may be way off track here, but Wrather was asking something about whether an element can be called an element if it is not naturally occurring. This wikipedia page may be of some use:


    And you should definitely get Shechner on the podcast more often.


  6. Dan #

    I’m sure you don’t care, but on the subject of synthesizing elements.

    This is entirely possible. The sun is doing it constantly. The basic idea is that if you take to molecules of a small element and whack them together hard enough, they’ll make a bigger element. So, oversimplified, the sun (and H-Bombs) do this by whacking two Hydrogens together to make one Helium.

    Now the reason this works is that a helium atom actually contains LESS energy than a hydrogen atom, so you get that extra back as sunlight or glass parking lot, depending on context.

    In general, you can combine small elements to get big ones and get energy back up to a specific element. That element is Iron. For that reason, iron is the heaviest element produced by any mechanism in nature other than a supernova.

    Bigger than iron, you get energy by taking BIG elements and breaking them up into smaller pieces. This is what happens in a nuclear reactor or an A bomb. You get less energy this way in general, which is why A bombs kick less ass than H bombs do.

    The preposterous part however, is the idea of a “new” element. We know how elements work. They have a certain number of protons in the nucleus, and that tells us which element it is. That’s it. So if it’s got one proton, it’s hydrogen. Full stop.

    Now as elements get bigger and bigger, they get harder to produce, and much less stable. The heaviest element yet created has an atomic number of 118, and was only in existence for a tiny fraction of a second.

    So there aren’t any elements no one has thought of yet. Maybe they haven’t been synthesized yet, but it’s not like someone’s going to discover some new integer between 12 and 13 that no one ever noticed before.


  7. bregman #

    @sylvia: awesome point on 2)

    The passport scene was totally necessary. If you freeze frame it and zoom in really closely you can see just behind the passport a note from Tony Stark telling Vanko that the Stark car would be raced by Tony himself. A fact known only to him and his arch-enemy.

    This explains both a seemingly unnecessary scene and a deeply retarded plot hole, leaves nagging questions about Stark for a sequel (why would he send passport delivery man to Vanko? What is Stark up to?!), and is in keeping with the theme of Stark sowing the seeds of his own near destruction. In this case literally. Movie explained. You’re welcome.


  8. Gab #

    Favorite Million-/Billionaire-

    @Sylvia: Stan Lee had a cameo as Larry King, but they listed him (Lee) in the credits as himself. I found that kind of silly.

    If looking for a serious explanation for the plot, I’d say it was about Stark trying to keep control of the suits and the technology, his enemies being the US government and Vanko. And, to some degrees, he was his own enemy: I would have liked more between Rhodey and Tony during the scene where Tony collapses and Rhodey helps him get a new battery (or whatever it’s called).

    Passport Scene: There are also rumors that the dude handing Vanko his passport was a member of the Ten Rings, which would pave the way for Mandarin to show up as a baddy.

    The way I thought the paladium could have been tied in better was to have Tony get too weak in the suit while fighting Vanko and then get bailed out somehow by Rhodey or something- thereby necessitating in a much more urgent way his healing and the discovery of the new element. And that also would have given more opportunity for Tony to get yelled at for insisting on being in the suit all the time, even though doing so accelerates the increase in toxicity levels of his blood. Then maybe in his anger, he slams around in the attic and lo, finds a canister of old film, featuring his father, etc., which could have decreased the Nick Fury stuff. And, overall, having more people find out and argue with him about it (a scene with Pepper could have been very intense) would have added to the emotional stake and depth- something I felt the film lacked in very large degrees. I know Fenzel was glad to not have the lovey dovey stuff, but the kiss at the end came from nowhere and felt disjointed. Sure, it led to some really funny dialogue once Rhodey started commenting, but that’s just one kind of emotion missing. Again, more between Rhodey and Tony would have made it deeper and more intense, too.

    Avengers/ S.H.I.E.L.D.: I’m of mixed emotions on this. The pseudo-comic-nerd in me is excited for the reasons McNeil is, but the moviegoer in me is frustrated for the reasons Lee is, so I’m not so sure what I want or expect. There were all kinds of nuggets for fans (let’s not be gender biased, here, ahem) if they were looking for them- and I was, so I found them. The Stan Lee cameo, Captain America’s shield, the spots on the map indicating where other Avengers were- they all kind of excited me. But this isn’t the first movie to do that with regards to the Avengers film, though- Tony Stark shows up in an extra scene at the end of the Hulk movie starring Ed Norton, so the setup was already begun before Iron Man 2. And Sam Jackson has said there will be a S.H.I.E.L.D. movie after the Avengers one, so who knows how many more tie-ins there will be?

    Is the suit a weapon: Well, think about the name of the other suit, War Machine- WAR MACHINE. It’s the militarized, more mechanized version of Iron Man, the “sufficiently armed” version that would appeal to the military more, since lasers and plasma beams aren’t part of the everyday defense tactics used. (And a slight well, ACTUALLY…) Rhodey says, “You don’t deserve to use one of these,” and later Tony yells, “You wanna be the war machine?” in their fight. But it isn’t necessarily to give a name to the suit itself, but to factitiously call it what the Senate had been claiming all of the suits and, in his logic (that he and the suit are one) to be. Like McNeil says, it didn’t have the capital letters on it when Tony said it.

    Villains: As if the Iron Man series itself didn’t have trouble, the lack of quality villains has done nothing to help the series be a better one. The tattoos and such were inspired by Viggo Mortensen’s character in _Eastern Promises_, a change meant to help make Vanko less campy and more realistic and scary because he *is* rather cheesy in the comics.

    Pseudo-Science: Why is it never (thoroughly) explained in _Iron Man_? Think: Mitichloreans. Seriously. Like Fenzel said, if they gave some stupid explanation, it would totally ruin the enjoyment of the rest of the film and the experience therein. I saw it with a bunch of science majors, and they were babbling from the moment the credits started (with a brief pause during the Thor thing) about how the element thing was “wrong on so many levels.” Their squirming during the scenes they didn’t agree with kind of took away some of the enjoyment for me, but I felt better before they told me why some of it wouldn’t work. Not knowing made it easier to enjoy.

    Black Widow: Here’s why *I’m* okay with her, and it’s a lot like what Lee’s friend said. She doesn’t jiggle her tits or flip her hair in front of the guy to distract him before she beats on him- her sexuality is not a tool she as a character uses. The camera angles aren’t a problem with her character so much as with how her character is treated- so if I have any beefs, they’d be with the cinematography, not Black Widow herself. Sigh, although I will admit I got kind of sick of seeing her bra stick out. But that’s costuming- she doesn’t stick said bra in anybody’s face and bat her lashes. Bah, maybe I’m just aching so badly for some powerful action characters that just so happen to be female, I’m being more forgiving than I typically am or should be.

    Age: Agreed, Wrather. As I said when _Watchmen_ came out, and later, adults taking their young children to see movies like this, _The Dark Knight_, etc., do so because they are naive enough to think that a movie based on a comic is going to be family-friendly. Also, violence is much more acceptable for young kids’ exposure than sexuality.

    ItsJustSomeRandomGuy totally goes after the product placement in this video here, amidst making fun of the upcoming _Jonah Hex_ movie:


    But, I do suspect it’s meant to be at least a little tongue-in-cheek, given how both movies have slightly satirical undertones. Tony is arguably a caricature of celebrity bachelors, for example. And those Ironettes and the props owned by “fans” (masks, gloves, photos) in the audience at the Stark Expo? Totally making fun of marketing, the very marketing the Iron Man films participate in.

    @bregman: Really, a note? I’ve run a few searches and can’t find anything. Do you have any links to sources for that?


  9. Gab #

    Whoops, I didn’t do the opening thing, and just left it blank. Miranda Priestly, from _The Devil Wears Prada_. She’s evil-yet-not and demonstrates in a lot of ways how different a rise to the top is for a woman as apposed to a man.


  10. stokes #

    There were two things about the “find a magic element” plot that amused me. First, Stark saying (over and over) that he “tried every element.” I’m trying to imagine a situation where a real world scientist would say, “well, this reaction requires palladium, and we don’t want to use that… okay, let’s start with hydrogen and work our way up.” It’s like when you’re playing charades and you’re completely out of ideas, so you just start going through the alphabet. “Sounds like cat: aat, bat, cat, dat…”

    Second: Shechner, check me on this, but elements that have to be synthesized are UNIVERSALLY highly radioactive, their short half-life being quite literally the reason they need to be synthesized in the first place, right? And most of them cause heavy metal poisoning to boot? So the odds of a new one being less toxic than palladium (which according to wikipedia causes – shudder – skin irritation) are not, uh, whadyacall, high?


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