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Book Review

Book Cover

Iron Man
The Official Movie Novelisation


Author: Peter David
Titan Books
RRP: £6.99, US $7.99
ISBN: 978 1 8457 6917 8
Available 25 April 2008

Tony Stark is a man who has it all. His multi-billion company manufactures high tech weapons and provides him with a lifestyle that would be the envy of anyone. For Tony wealth means that everything comes easy, girls, booze, all these things are there for his taking. However, for Tony, fate has a different path than that of wealth and moral bankruptcy, when he is captured in Afghanistan whilst displaying his new missile for the military. Forced to build weapons for the insurgent, he instead brings his prodigious intellect into producing a suit of high tech armour, armour which will transform him into Iron man…

Iron Man is the novelisation of the forthcoming movie and is written by Peter David. David should require no introduction from me as his work in script writing, comics and genre novels means there can be few sci-fi fans who don’t own at least one, if not several, pieces of his work.

There is always going to be problems with this type of novel as, although solidly written, it is essentially an expanded version of the shooting script. Certainly David uses the greater room afforded by a novel to flesh out his characters and try to give, what is essentially, two dimensional figures motivation and development, but the overall story is constrained by what is in the script. 

This use of novel as movie merchandising is not lost on the PR people, a quick look through the blurb for the book mentions Robert Downey Jr three times and Peter David only once - and that is almost a passing remark. In a whole page about the book, Peter David is reduced to: “Written by fan-favourite comic book author…”

The narrative pretty much follows that of the original comic, with a few changes to update the story. So, Tony is captured by Afghan tribesmen, rather than the Vietnamese, though the book, and I suspect the film, does not accuse the Mujahideen directly. Like most origin stories the overall plot is relatively simplistic. Tony gets captured, though he has metal pointing at his heart, and so requires a chest plate to stop the metal from killing him. He builds his first, crude suit, a scene which may work in comics but is more reminiscent of the A-Team in the book in its ridiculousness - not a lot David could do with this as it is an inextricable part of the Iron Man myth. Still, he does what he can to give this scene some root in reality.

So, Tony builds his suit, escapes, has a change of heart, so to speak, and goes off flying in an updated version to defend the world. Of course the last act needs a villain for Tony to fight and when that is out of the way, the whole thing comes to a close.

Ultimately, the book is what it is - a movie novelisation.


Charles Packer

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