“I am Iron Man.”
Rated PG-13. Directed by Jon Favreau. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Leslie Bibb and Shaun Toub.
Well, what other quote would I use? Truth be told, I wasn’t really planning on seeing Iron Man, but good reviews and the recommendations of a number of friends inspired me to check it out. I knew almost nothing about the character (as opposed to all those years watching the Batman animated series) or his adversaries, and I think that made the movie more enjoyable.
One of the better superhero movies of the new wave (seriously, I feel like so many of the major blockbusters coming out are comic book ones…Hellboy 2, The Incredible Hulk, The Dark Knight, Hancock, etc. etc.), Iron Manbrings the character of Tony Stark and the creation story of Iron Man to a wide audience. A slightly less depressed version of Bruce Wayne, Stark as played by Robert Downey Jr. is one of the more memorable characters, comic book movie or not, of any movie of the past few years.
After a quick burst action scene, we flashback to get some of Stark’s backstory — a boy genius and son of a legendary weapons developer, he took over his father’s company and continued its rise to a dominant global corporation. Without giving too much away, a profound life-changing type of event causes Stark to question his place in the world and his company’s role in bringing death and destruction to innocents across the globe. Whereas before, he was happy to accept the nickname the “Merchant of Death” as long as it came with the billions of dollars and steady stream of supermodels, Stark’s epiphany leads him to create Iron Man.
Robert Downey Jr. is perfectly cast, just absolutely perfect, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing the role justice. He is Tony Stark, right down to the public missteps and (in the sequels, supposedly) his propensity for substance abuse. Downey makes the movie succeed and puts the cherry on top of his career renaissance.
Downey & Gwyneth Paltrow as his loyal assistant Pepper Potts have great chemistry and she is also very well cast. Terrence Howard, as one of Stark’s only friends, a Air Force colonel, has his moments and hints at a bigger role in the sequels. Jeff Bridges, as Stark’s Industries #2, is unrecognizable at first and is the only one to be a little too comic-booky in his acting at times.
Favreau does a very solid job of directing and I particularly liked the West Coast location. Stark definitely seems like a West Coast type of hero, and I think the setting helped out the feel of the movie. The effects are great and seamless, and Iron Man looks fantastic when he’s on screen. The script is mostly fine, especially for a superhero movie — it’s a little light on the action, but as far as a creation story goes, it’s a decent balance of exposition, humor and shit blowing up.
The worst part of the movie was probably the lame-ass, forced product placement (Burger King), but other than that, I was pleasantly surprised with the production. It’s about as entertaining as a movie in this genre can be, and it’s worth watching simply for Downey alone. The cool special effects and action scenes are just a bonus.