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Iron Man Rocks. Like Iron.

Friday, May 2, 2008
by

Iron Man movieIron Man

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.
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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, May 2, 2008 10:18 pm

    When you do go again, stick around until the end of the credits. Apparently there’s something extra there, which I found out about after I got home.

    I’d say I’m basically in agreement with you on this one. I don’t think Jeff Bridges’ badguy was all that great a badguy — Bridges himself did it right, it was more the plot he was given that didn’t set him up well enough for me.

    The movie was at its best in scenes without a threat, where Robert Downey Jr. was alone with his machines, learning how to use them and playing with them. The action bits were good fun, but only had brief flashes of greatness, usually in a moment of humour.

    Anyway, great movie, I’d see it again myself, though I’m not sure when I’ll have the chance, as it’s summer now, which means the movies will come fast & furious (though we’ll have to wait until next year for the fourth Fast & the Furious. Drat!)

    Next weekend, for example, brings a new Mamet and a new Wachowski movie. That’s retarded it’s so good.

  2. Friday, May 2, 2008 10:19 pm

    Oh yeah, and we put a space in Iron Man, Mr. James.

  3. James17930 permalink
    Friday, May 2, 2008 10:49 pm

    I think with Bridges it was just so obvious that he’s going to be the bad guy that they figured it wasn’t worth it doing anything overly complex — just basically say ‘okay, here’s where I turn bad.’

  4. Saturday, May 3, 2008 12:26 pm

    That’s fine, they didn’t need to build up to some big surprise. I just didn’t feel that much tension in his villainy, not because it was obvious where it would go, but because there was a screenplays-by-the-book step-by-step approach to him. Actually, that’d be my biggest criticism of the whole movie: lots of plot-function details felt too much like plot-function details. Gotta hide those little fellas.

    But it’s a small criticism; Iron Man’s one of the very good superhero movies.

  5. tgjkennedy permalink
    Saturday, May 10, 2008 12:21 am

    I just saw it, and loved it. And I did stick around until the end of the credits for… Samuel L. Jackson?

  6. Saturday, May 10, 2008 2:44 am

    Just as important is who he plays.

  7. James17930 permalink
    Saturday, May 10, 2008 7:59 am

    ^Yeah, which isn’t making a lot of sense to me. I’m thinking of doing a post about it.

  8. Saturday, May 10, 2008 9:47 am

    It doesn’t make sense to you? That doesn’t make sense to me. Either do this post you speak of, or explain yourself here.

  9. James17930 permalink
    Saturday, May 10, 2008 8:43 pm

    After doing a bit of research, I see that the reason they’re using Sammy J. in the movie is that they’re using the Ultimate version of Nick Fury, which just happened to be “specifically tailored after actor Samuel L. Jackson with his permission.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_Nick_Fury

    So it all makes sense now.

  10. Saturday, May 17, 2008 11:16 am

    Terence Howard didn’t do anything for me. Nor did whoever wrote his dialogue. Hopefully more effort is exerted when the Rhodes character becomes more significant. Otherwise, it was a fun way to kill a couple of hours.

  11. Sarah P permalink
    Saturday, May 17, 2008 6:33 pm

    I thought it was missing a little bit of that fun we’ve become used to in the other superhero movies. Downey was great, Bridges was indeed “fantastic,” and Paltrow can hold her own. I have to disagree with Drew; I enjoyed Howard quite a bit, and I’m encouraged to read that his part becomes more substantial in the later stories. I’m holding off my opinion of the Iron Man character until I see more ’cause I hadn’t even heard of it until this movie, and mostly just went to see it because G wanted to go. But so far, I think Favreau’s interpretation of the comic-book hero genre is pretty good.

    G will likely write a more detailed (read: better) review later.

  12. Tuesday, May 20, 2008 10:03 am

    I actually don’t have much to add, except that I enjoyed it. I think casting Downey was superb, the scenes where he wasn’t being Iron Man were the best – in much the same way that Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne scenes were usually better than the action stuff. Favreau is a more-than-compentent director, but I think his action scenes could have been better, they seemed a little slapdash.

    Not knowing anything about the Iron Man character, I figured Bridges’ baddy would turn out to be a series-spanning villian, not a one-off, but oh well. And the more I think about the plot, the more I realize how thin it was, and needed a bit of pumping up – but as an intro to a character it was very good, Downey is so darn watchable.

    I went in with high expectiations, and it managed to deliver. I am no where near as optimistic about the new Hulk, but then again, I’m the only one in the world who actually liked Ang Lee’s version, so what do I know?

  13. Frenchie permalink
    Tuesday, May 20, 2008 5:22 pm

    I’ve been following this story for a while, the following paragraph is from wikipedia:

    In August 2006, Zak Penn was hired to write the script for an Avengers film.[14] Iron Man director Jon Favreau said he would like to direct the film, which would be a crossover to fictional universes in other upcoming Marvel films such as Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk. He also explained that Marvel has told him that “they’re pretty clear on wanting to do it with the actors who’ve established the roles or to not do it at all. I think it’s a good idea if you use the characters established in the other franchises that then come together for an event.”[15] Following the success of Favreau’s film, Marvel announced The Avengers’s July 2011 release date.[12]

    Confirmed and planned avengers films:

    * Iron Man (2008)
    * The Incredible Hulk (2008)
    * Iron Man 2 (2010)
    * Thor (2010)
    * Ant-Man (2010, unofficial[7])
    * Nick Fury (2010, unofficial[8])
    * The First Avenger: Captain America (2011)
    * The Avengers (2011)

    Pretty cool. It’s a film crossover event like never seen before. To start off the crossover, Robert Downey Jr makes a Tony Stark cameo in the upcoming incredible Hulk movie. I had read this on IMDB a while back, but didn’t believe it, until today, when it was confirmed to me, by an inside source that this cameo is in fact for real.

    I’m curious to see just how far reaching this goes, considering that Spiderman and Wolverine have ties to the Avengers, I’m really excited to see if they write some sort of Marvel Civil War type storyline.

  14. James17930 permalink
    Tuesday, May 20, 2008 9:53 pm

    Yes — if they do it properly it’ll be awesome.

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