Iron Man Rocks. Like Iron.
Dir: Jon Favreau
Tony Stark is basically Bruce Wayne without the equivocation and troubled past: a rich genius who decides to use his money and skills to fight The Evil. So while I love Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, with its deep, dark layers and amazing storytelling, Favreau’s Iron Man is a hell of a lot more fun.
Most of that, of course, is due to the sheer audacious, cocky, unequivocal portrayal of Stark by everyone’s favourite bad-boy actor Robert Downey Jr. It’s immensely entertaining watching this guy make the transition from jet-setting playboy to jet-setting playboy with a conscience; because, seriously, why can’t you be a superhero and a playboy too (and without the disdain that Bruce Wayne has for playboy-ness, which he cultivates simply as a distraction)? This is the thing which I think sets Iron Man apart — there’s no secret identity. Whereas you can argue (and the comics have certainly always played it up) that there is a Peter Parker/Spiderman duality, and of course the schizophrenic natures of Batman and Superman, Stark isn’t hiding behind his armour. He is his armour. Full Stop. You get the feeling he would fight the same fight naked if he had too. And it’s also what makes the symbolism in the movie so perfect as well: how he ends up needing a mechanical heart, and how that heart powers both him and the suit, and how (even though you’d think he’d want to give it more protection), that heart is right there front and centre, glowing bright and strong, daring all comers to try and take it out. Iron Man is a welcome breath of fresh air for the superhero genre.
The supporting cast is another thing which really elevates this movie over a lot of other superhero movies; Jeff Bridges is fantastic, being evil and lovable at the same time; Terence Howard is good, although he didn’t have much to do, but we’ll definitely be seeing more of him in the next two movies (yes, a trilogy was planned from the get-go) as the James Rhodes character takes on more importance; and, of course, there’s Gwyneth Paltrow, who’s been quiet on the film-front lately, making her big return as Stark’s assistant Pepper Potts, a role which, in an anonymous actress’s hands, could easily become generic and boring, but to which she brings both strength and vulnerability, along with a very necessary dignity. For she, of course, becomes the one woman Stark can’t have, and you need a special woman to play that role, someone who can believably stand above all others, which she certainly can and gracefully does.
I can’t wait for the next one. I’ll probably see this one again in theatres as well.