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.