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John Lamb, Published May 08 2010

Lamb: Paradox heroes to the rescue

The way people were talking in the days leading up to “Iron Man 2” opening at the Fargo Theatre, you would’ve thought the venue was hosting a battle royale between the superhero and some equally destructive villain, not just a film.

For days, naysayers seemed to suggest that the special-effects spectacular going to the historic art-house cinema instead of the modern Cineplexes would end in catastrophe that only a superhero could save everyone from.

“They won’t be able to handle the crowd,” some people posted.

“The sound system won’t hold up,” others opined.

“The concession stand will crack under incessant demand for Twizzlers!”

“The seats aren’t comfortable enough!”

Did these whiners think the Capitol One barbarians bought all the advanced tickets for the show?

But shortly after 2 a.m., as the last of the 870-some “Iron” fans filed out of the Fargo, the theater, even the concession stand, was still intact, if a little littered with Twizzler wrappers.

So who were the super saviors that kept the Fargo from ending up like Hiroshima after spring break? Fargo police? Navy SEALs? Pinkerton detectives?

Sure, the Fargo Theatre staff kept lines moving and helped people find seats, but that’s their job. (Though, allowing guests to bring in food from neighboring Erbert and Gerbert’s was a nice gesture of hospitality.)

The real heroes were the cast of characters from Paradox Comics-N-Cards.

The downtown Fargo fantasy and sci-fi emporium welcomed ticket holders with free Iron Man comics. The books looked to be left over from Free Comic Book Day last Saturday, but still, when was the last time you went to the theater and got a gift?

And while they were waiting for the film to start, heavy-duty Iron Man fans competed in a trivia challenge hosted by Paradox owner Rich Early and employee Brian Hellevang.

The pair operated as animated hype men, fielding participants from the sold-out crowd and giving them shots at winning “Iron” merchandise, like posters and graphic novels.

They even hosted a contest between two teams making Iron Man costumes out of cardboard, red tape and markers.

Geeky? A bit, but if they wouldn’t have kept the crowd occupied, there would’ve been 870-some young adults sitting in those dreaded seats for nearly two hours waiting for the film and no doubt plotting the theater’s demise. Or tweeting.

Actually, the only thing missing from the pre-show was a Tony Stark (Iron Man) doing a stand-up routine.

“I just flew in from California, and boy, are my jets tired.”

No one is saying the Paradox duo stole the show, but they made the two-hour wait entertaining.

Now if they could do something to make the two-hour movie more entertaining.

Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533