Direct From SF: I’ve Already Seen ‘Iron Man’ — And Ranked It Against ‘Spider-Man’ And ‘Batman Begins’

Here in San Francisco, there are some really nice perks to being surrounded by so many game publishers. I don’t imagine I’d get the same opportunities back in cold ol’ Illinois.

Last night, I did what Tracey John did not. I went and saw an early screening of this weekend’s “Iron Man” movie starring Robert Downey Jr.

I didn’t have to pay a dime for it. It was a promotional screening for the press, sponsored by Sega. On Tuesday, Sega released an “Iron Man” video game based on the movie. It came out on the same day as “Grand Theft Auto IV,” but it’s not really the same audience.

Last night was a busy one. Not only did I spend two hours in a theater with “Iron Man,” but Sony held an event to promote “Secret Agent Clank” on PSP, too.

I can’t discuss about “Secret Agent Clank” until later today. Sony invited a small gathering of the San Francisco press to the Slide Lounge. Conveniently, it’s just three blocks from my apartment.

They aren’t kidding when they call it the Slide Lounge, either. That’s not a clever name. It literally has a slide. Unfortunately, they had it locked off. But that didn’t stop me from having someone take a picture of me while I pretended to ride it.

Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.

It’s only a matter of weeks before “Secret Agent Clank” drops on shelves. Sony’s event was only highlighting a single PSP title, and because Sony was handing out playable code as you exited, the event wasn’t particularly packed. Some folks came in, checked out Sony’s brief presentation and walked out with their UMD in hand.

Besides, I had time to kill before “Iron Man.” Knowing I could check out “Secret Agent Clank” on my own, I spent my time chatting with Sony public relations and having 1UP’s Shane Bettenhausen berate me for missing Prince at Coachella this past weekend.

The event was decked out with a James Bond theme. Sony handed journalists fake money to use on gambling tables set up throughout the Slide Lounge. There were just a few adventurous folks hitting the tables with their monopoly money, but most either headed to the open bar to enjoy the available company or plopped down to the playable PSPs that were fitted with copies of “Secret Agent Clank.”

I couldn’t stick around long, though. “Iron Man” started soon and I wasn’t going to risk a bad seat. Bettenhausen, others and myself made the short trek to the Metreon theater in downtown San Francisco, searching for Sega’s check-in area.

This wasn’t a flashy premiere. Just a bunch of local games journalists — many with their wives in tow– hanging out and enjoying the latest comic book movie.

A few hours later, the lights went up and everyone filed out. The general consensus: “Iron Man” was a solid flick, but not blow-your-mind good. It wasn’t the greatest superhero movie ever, nor even the best since “Spider-Man” (fact: that’s “Batman Begins”). Simply put: Iron Man, a compelling, exciting and flawed character, finds himself stuck in a universe with boring villains.

It’s well worth seeing for Downey Jr., though. He steals the show in every way.

Will you be seeing “Iron Man” tonight?

Have a hot tip? Is there a topic that Multiplayer should be covering and isn’t? Maybe can name a decent “Iron Man” villain. Drop me an e-mail.