Posted by: Gregg | May 8, 2008

Iron Man review:

A nearly flawless summer popcorn flick that actually lives up to expectations, Iron Man is the most fun I’ve had at the movies for a good long while and easily one of the highlights of the young summer season.

(Minor spoilers ahead, obviously.)

I’m not going to add much to what’s already been written about the flick: due to the slick visual style supplied by director Jon Faverau, an excellent script that keeps things humming along, and solid supporting work by Oscar veterans Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, and Gwyneth Paltrow, Iron Man didn’t need Robert Downey Jr to carry the film, but then he went ahead and put it on his shoulders anyway. His performance is cracking with energy and life at every step. It’s been said elsewhere that Iron Man will do for RDJ what Pirates of the Caribbean did for Johnny Depp: take a talented and respected niche actor and elevate him to the top of the A-list. Go ahead and bank on it – RDJ’s been one of Hollywood’s best-kept secrets for a long while.

Besides the acting talent, what impresses be about the film is that Iron Man really isn’t a superhero movie, even though it clearly is. The reason why superheroes took so long to get the Hollywood treatment is neatly summed up by my parents, who have thus far refused to see a movie adapted from a comic book because of what I call the Union Suit problem: no matter how you portray it, it all boils down to someone putting on a funny-looking costume to fight crime. People like my parents can’t overlook that. Even Batman Begins, which treated the Batman origin story with care and style, still had the hero end up in a funny-looking costume.

Iron Man doesn’t have this problem: Tony Stark, tech genius and military weapons manufacturer, sees the error of his ways and builds the suit not to fight crime, not to uphold truth, justice, and the American way, but to personally undo the damage his weapons have caused. The creation of the suit is the ultimate expression of the character’s personal change through the course of the film and makes perfect sense given the character.

A quick note: you might have read about a special bonus scene at the end of the closing credits – it’s really not worth your while unless you’re a die-hard comic book fan. It lasts only about twenty seconds and can be found out by a quick Google search. All it does is set up the sequels, when you know will be coming. And I’ll certainly be looking forward to them.

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Responses

  1. You know this will be family movie night for we 3 geeks.

    I am quite keen to see it in spite of only being aware of this particular character via osmosis, compilation covers and video games.

    Why?

    Suddenly, RDJ = HAWTNESS. Trufax.

  2. Don’t worry about not knowing the character’s background – the film will take care of everything. Iron Man’s status as a B-lister in the Marvel Comics universe might have helped it out, since there wasn’t the baggage that the die-hard fans would freak out over if not brought in and dealt with. The producers kept what worked, chucked what didn’t, and ran with it. Be sure to note the few alcoholism notes, though, as it’s pretty obvious that’s where they’ll go in the sequels.

    The film is, incidentally, quite family-friendly. Killings are mostly offscreen and/or implied, and all the other violence is of the cartoony sort.

    It did bother me that Gwyneth Paltrow wore insanely high heels during her chase scene.

  3. Thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and my only problems with it are fundamental problems I have with the character.

    Loved Downey’s performance, as he turned Tony Stark from a prick to a jerk. That says a lot, truth be told; the charisma worked nicely, as did his compatriots’ desire to protect him from himself and a world where being a jerk doesn’t always pay off. The whole “There’s no art opening, no charity, nothing to sign. There’s the next mission, and nothing else” thing gave me chills, as it put purpose to Tony’s actions beyond being an immense tool and boosting his company’s stock prices.

    SPOILER SPOILER

    So… what’d you think of the “I am Iron Man” thing at the end. Yes, it was needed to make the Sabbath thing work. Still, changes the dynamic from “Yes, Stark Industries has an in-house superhero and I don’t have to cop to my actions” to “I’m a rich guy who does extralegal things because they’re right, damn the consequenses.” Sort of dug it, all considered. It’s much closer to the crusading industrialist I’ve always felt Tony Stark should be rather than the scheming, guilt-ridden profiteering asshat he is.

  4. I took the “I am Iron Man” thing as him as finally, fully, accepting responsibility for himself; he’s spent his entire life sheilding himself from the consequences of his actions by putting layers of denial between him and the people who are ultimately hurt by his weapons. To do the same thing as Iron Man would be against the change in his character. It was surprising, bold, and made sense given Tony’s story arc.

    Switching gears for a moment: assuming that there’s going to be a Captain America flick since several folks have apparently spotted his shield sitting on Tony’s worktable in one of the scenes, how would you pitch a Captain America movie? It’d be next to impossible to do as is in the Marvel canon, I would think. I’d be curious as how you would do it.

  5. re: “I am Iron Man”- good call. Definitely adds an additional layer of heroism to the character, and it does show character development in a way that’s not hackneyed or labored.

    I’d love to see a Captain America movie follow a pared-down version of the canon. Why not start with Cap and Bucky slogging through the war, freeze Cap down, give him a brief bit of fish out of water time and then ring in the bad guys? A bit of Band of Brothers-style WWII action could be visually stunning and add some depth to the character.


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