Title: Iron Man
Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, John August (created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby)
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow
Release Date: May 2nd, 2008
As we head closer to the release of The Avengers, we’re going to take a look at another Avenger film. But not just any Avenger. It’s the film that started the modern Marvel film universe and catapulted Marvel Studios into a film studio to be reckoned with. Iron Man might be almost four years old, but the impact it’s had is still strong.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve already seen the film. But for those of you rock dwellers out there, here’s the basic premise. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a playboy genius billionaire whose family legacy is Stark Industries, a company that’s known for its weapon making. While on a business trip to Afghanistan, Stark gets critically wounded in an ambush and kidnapped by a terrorist organization known as the Ten Rings. There he meets another hostage, Dr. Yinsen (Shaun Toub), who revives Tony Stark. The downside to his operation is that Stark now has an electromagnet in his chest that prevents the shrapnel from getting to his heart and killing him. Together, they build a suit of armor as a means of escape, and after Dr. Yinsen dies, Stark breaks out and promises to have a change of heart. He announces Stark Industries will no longer make weapons, fixes his relationship with close friend and assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and builds an advance suit of armor as a means of personally combating terrorism. Not everyone is happy with Stark’s makeover, including company manager Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), who has his own intentions for Stark Industries.
This is what you could've achieved had you taken the metal workshop and mechanics 101 in college.
Suffice to say, the plot still holds up well and steers clear of any trite superhero film tropes. Perhaps the pacing could’ve been improved some more, but there’s no major weaknesses in the script. The story is pretty much plot hole free and the dialog is sharp, real, and funny.
Of course, you can have a terrific script, but it’s going to take great acting to pull it off. This is definitely one of the best acting ensembles for a comic book movie. Robert Downey Jr. is to Tony Stark/Iron Man what Christopher Reeves is to Clark Kent/Superman. He plays it so well that I can’t imagine anyone else playing Stark. Jeff Bridges makes for a great, non-cheesy villain; Gwyneth Paltrow does a great job as Pepper Potts, and maintains a careful balance between being great friends and having romantic tension with Tony Stark; and I prefer Howard to Cheadle for the role of Lt. Colonel James Rhodes. Even the actors with smaller roles, such as Shaun Toub or Leslie Bibb (as Christine Everhart), are terrific.
Could Batman do this? Didn't think so.
Not only does Iron Man deliver a great story, it also delivers great action. It does what every other great superhero film does to elevate an action scene. The action has context within the story, the villains are the ones you can rally against (while still maintaining character depth), and most of the victims are extremely sympathizable. The best example of this, is the scene where Iron Man saves Dr. Yinsen’s village. The action scene isn’t amazing in and of itself, but within the context of the story, it is an awesome, memorable moment. I remember when that scene played in the theater, there was an enthusiastic vibe radiating throughout the audience as Iron Man blew up the tank. Despite the anti-climatic fight against Iron Man and Stane, there’s nothing much to complain about with the action scenes.
Best walk away from explosion ever.
There’s nothing really to complain about with Iron Man. Sure, the pacing’s off, there’s some anti-climatic moments, and it could’ve used another action scene or two. But those are just nitpicks in comparison to the whole film. Iron Man has heart, soul, humor, action, and everything else you can expect from a superhero film. If you haven’t gotten around to watching this, stop what you are doing and immediately go to your nearest video store and rent/buy this film. I don’t care if you’re reading this at eleven o’ clock at night, break into the video store and steal a copy if you have to. Because Iron Man is hands down one of the greatest superhero films of all time. And where else are you going to see Stan Lee impersonate Hugh Hefner?