I waited for Iron Man to begin with a funny taste in my mouth. Yes, I was about to watch yet another comic book super hero movie based on one of Marvel’s characters and it was right to be a little apprehensive…Was this going to be formulaic, corny, predictable movie that the genre was shelling out lately?…. Admittedly I knew nothing about Iron Man going in. Would anticipation get the better of me? Was I about to be cheated by another lackluster superhero adaptation?
As I waited things turned surreal. From the moment the trailers rolled out with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull revealing an over-the-hill Ford teaming up with Transformers star Shia LeBeouf, followed by the latest Batman installment, The Dark Knight, all became tainted when the sacrilegious ‘Superhero Movie’, burst forth cruelly mocking Spiderman... Could Iron Man save the day?....
Director: Jon Favreau
Screenplay: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Comic Book: Stan Lee + (Marvel)
Stars: ROBERT DOWNEY JR. Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Terrance Howard, Leslie Bibb, Shaun Toub, Clark Gregg, Faran Tahir
Heroes aren’t born they’re built, or so says the by-line for this season’s red hot release in the shape of Iron Man. He’s a lesser known Marvel Comics superhero that’s hitting the screen with a bang.
Robert Downey Jr. is our main protagonist, the wealthy genius industrialist Tony Stark. He’s a character so full of himself, as the playboy extraordinaire arms dealer, who is about to get the wake-up call of his life when he’s abducted by terrorists.
Here, Downey is older, sexier and wiser, (or should that be wise-cracking?) His notorious lifestyle, which left him teetering dangerously close to the edge of the Hollywood abyss, hit the headlines more regularly than his eclectic roles. You’re asking yourself, does he really have the makings of a superhero? Hold that thought.
As soon as Stark (Downey) removes his designer shades and opens his mouth, you know that Iron Man is not going to be your ordinary comic book film. Unlike many of the superheroes before him, Iron Man’s origin isn’t boring or longwinded. There’s no teenage angst or mad scientist, and Director Jon Favreau takes on the challenge of the back-story without having to resort to those clumsy mechanisms of the nerd with a secret.
The motivations of the character are clear from the start, and there’s no need for ethics to get in the way. Iron Man’s story is instinctively good vs evil. Like all good comic book stories should be. It’s slick, exciting, escapist fun…like all good movies should be.
The cast is stellar, with an almost unrecognizable Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane, a rather diplomatic villain. Gwyneth Paltrow’s dotting secretary, unfortunately named ‘Pepper Potts’, displays a character of amazing gusto. She attends gala events in Stark’s honour, while simultaneously running around hi-tech weapons research labs in 6 inch heels!
Thrown into the molten mix is a uniformed Terrance Howard as Jim Rhodes, the chief aviation officer in charge of military weapons research. He’s an unusual choice which fits well as Stark’s friend and voice of reason. While Leslie Bibb as Christine Everhart, the Vanity Fair reporter hassling Iron Man’s conscience, really stirs things up.
The contrast of a high-tech Iron Man shooting up the desert strongholds of Afghanistan’s insurgents makes for some great visuals, sure to impress fans of the 1960s comic. Humvees, UAV’s and UHF weapons, plus other assorted hardwear abound. Fast cars, fast women, and fast airplanes (natch) all vie for screen time alongside fully-formed Iron Man suits, which rival their Transformer cousins.
The rock soundtrack keeps up the momentum, while the military might of the US Air force playing tag is a must-see. If you can disregard the rather cardboard Middle Eastern terrorists and accept the blatant anti-war, anti-capitalist message, then you’re sure to enjoy this film.
As Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. has definitely got what it takes to be the latest superhero, he’s a shining example of a renewed talent, destined to be bigger than the film itself. Like a recently buffed brass plaque, proudly hanging on the Comic Book Hero Hall of Fame. Someone give that man a cigar!