|megpie71 (megpie71) wrote,|
@ 2012-08-21 09:39:00
|Current mood:||picky picky picky|
Iron Man I & II - Good films, lousy science
So I went on a bit of a buying spree on Friday, and got myself a few DVDs (Iron Man I and II, Thor, Captain America, the Robert Downey Junior Sherlock Holmes), and then spent most of Friday and Saturday in a watching spree. Now the whole thing's had enough time to settle a bit, here's my reactions to various bits and pieces.
1) Village Roadshow (the Australian distributors of the Sherlock Holmes movie) need to get a fscking clue. I don't know about anyone else, but I can live quite happily without the unavoidable little scolding from the Australian copyright protection vultures about how I shouldn't even think about downloading, ripping, burning or torrenting their precious works. I could also survive quite cheerfully for the rest of my life without having to sit through another fifteen minutes of unavoidable trailers for other films I wasn't even vaguely interested in. Seriously, trailers I can't skip past to the main menu, or fast-forward through? They're the sort of thing which makes even me (and I'm one of the more law-abiding people I know - hells, I even obey the speed limit on the roads) want to immediately go and find a downloadable or torrentable ripped copy of the movie and burn that to a DVDR of my own, because IT WON'T HAVE THOSE FSCKING TRAILERS.
That little rant off my chest, let's move on to the main features. Today I'll stick with Iron Man I and II.
My main rant with these is that they're great on the visual effects, not so great on the actual hard science, and absolutely terrible with regard to the medical side of things. For example, in IM1, there's a scene where Tony Stark asks his PA, Pepper Potts, to help him out with a small problem with his arc reactor - a loose wire. He asks her to basically stick her hand into the cavity in his chest where the arc reactor is supposed to sit, and pull out this loose wire.
I watched this, and the first time I saw it my medical mind (which isn't trained, except in the sense that my mother, at least two of my aunts, a couple of my female cousins and both of my grandmothers were nurses, and I pick up a lot from proximity and context) shrieked in horror, because he doesn't ask her to so much as wash her hands first, much less glove up or put on a surgical mask. However, this morning in the shower, I realised another small problem with this - the film shows Pepper's hand going into this cavity up to the wrist.
Now, I have fairly short, stubby hands, rather than long graceful ones like Gwynneth Paltrow. But I did a quick comparison on my rib cage, and I figure that if I inserted a hand through the front of my rib cage to the point where only my wrist was showing, I'd be touching my spine. There's a lot of stuff in the upper rib cage - not just the heart, but also major blood vessels, large organs like the lungs, the oesophagus heading down to the stomach, et cetera. So what the hells has Tony Stark had displaced (and by how much) if the cavity for the arc reactor occupies a cylindrical space which comes close to bisecting him? (I'll leave out the bit where Dr Yinsen is supposed to have performed this major cardio-thoracic prosthetic surgery under highly non-sterile conditions with less-than-optimal equipment in a cave in the middle of nowhere, Afghanistan, and that Mr Stark then went through the recovery from this surgery in less-than-optimal conditions, because hey, comic book origin story, it doesn't have to make sense, it just has to be dramatic. Let's just mention the words "bacterial infections" and "blood poisoning" and leave it at that).
In IM2, there's the whole "palladium poisoning" thing. Which, frankly, doesn't make sense. Firstly, the palladium core is supposed to be powering the arc reactor, which in turn powers an electromagnet which is keeping shrapnel out of Tony Stark's heart - the palladium really shouldn't be getting into contact with his bloodstream at all. Secondly, palladium is a "noble metal" - it's one of the ones which is used in jewellery to make "white gold" because it's less likely to cause allergic reactions (contact dermatitis) than nickel, which is the other option. So, okay, maybe a bit of itching around the implant site would be understandable if Tony has a nickel allergy, or similar. But full-on geometric black lines on the skin seems a lot unlikely.
After all, if the argument is that Tony Stark is being poisoned (somehow) by his arc reactor, and that palladium is building up in his system (which seems surprising, since the soluble compounds of palladium are, according to wikipedia, 99% eliminated within three days) rather like heavy metal poisoning, the most likely sites of problems are going to be the excretory organs - or in other words, he'll start off showing problems with his bowels, liver and kidneys (and also possibly the lungs and skin as secondaries). There's also the whole issue of "lithium dioxide", which isn't supposed to be theoretically possible - the lithium ion is Li+, and oxygen ions are O--. Di-lithium Oxide would be theoretically workable (but probably brings up problems with Star Trek copyright infringement). The more likely answer in a medical context is that Tony Stark was injected with a lithium-based anti-psychotic mood stabilising drug (in an effort to jolt him out of his bipolar behaviour - and it's probably arguable that Tony Stark does actually have bipolar disorder, given the way he seems to alternate between being very very "up" and very very "down").
What's even less believable, of course, is that as soon as he changes catalyst in the arc reactor, he winds up with all the symptoms clearing away in a matter of seconds. Okay, if it's genuinely a palladium thing, then the symptoms should clear within a few days (days, not seconds, and he's still going to be affected by it for those days), as per the wikipedia stuff. However, if the analogue they were using was with heavy metal poisoning, he's going to be negatively affected for months, if not years, and he's going to have long-term problems with those excretory organs (particularly the liver and the kidneys - he'd have to give up drinking completely, and it's clear from the Avengers movie that he hasn't).
I'll accept a lot of handwaving in the science of things like rockets, arc reactors, missiles, super-soldier serums and the like. But I expect a bit of consistency with regards to things like illnesses, poisoning, and recovery from same. The information is out there on the internet, and viewers and watchers are able to access it just as readily as writers are. And yeah, we're going to pick nits, and point out things like plot holes large enough to steer a supertanker through.
This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/32451.htm