>> Iron Man (John’s review, 8/10)

Iron ManThere’s something about the tone of Iron Man that sets it apart from other comic book origin movies, and I’m still struggling to figure out what exactly what that is. Iron Man is delicious fried chicken, and my palate can guess about eight of the eleven original herbs and spices that make it taste so good, but I’m still trying to figure out those other three. I do know that Iron Man is one heck of a junk food meal–hot, satisfying, and tasty.

It was a nice, bold touch to add political relevancy to Iron Man, by moving the action to the middle east and making war profiteering figure so heavily into the plot. Robert Downey Jr is billionaire industrialist playboy Tony Stark, a man who has never really considered the casualties of his weapons manufacturing until he’s incapacitated in Afghanistan by one of his own missles. Kept alive by his captors, a mysterious organization known as the Ten Rings, Stark is forced to recreate his latest weapon, but instead builds a high tech body armor that allows him to escape captivity with relative ease and return to the states a changed man.

Stark is no longer interested in the steady, huge stream of money from the military-industrial complex, frustrating his shareholders and right-hand man Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) to no end. What he is interested in is secretly tinkering with that new body armor, refining it, and possibly using it to do some good in the world. With great cash comes great responsibility.

This is a movie, much like Spider-Man before it, that is solely interested in being a really cool, really fun comic book film. Still, there’s something different about Iron Man, something in its execution, that feels quite fresh. It may be the casting of Robert Downey Jr as Stark, not the type of movie hero we are used to seeing. Stark here is a quick-witted man-child that is some crazy amalgamation of James Bond, Bugs Bunny, and Thomas Edison. Downey’s natural, confident performance may just be the thing that gives Iron Man that extra something special.

His supporting cast also feel comfortable with the heavy duty pop science fiction action at hand. Gwyneth Paltrow is Stark’s personal assistant, Pepper Potts, making an underdeveloped role memorable, and Terrence Howard is James Rhodes, Stark’s closest friend in the military. Everyone seems to be having fun under director Jon Favreau, and that fun is translated to the viewing audience.

Iron Man, in many ways, captures the energy of Marvel Comics itself during the 1960’s, the era in which Stark and his armor were created, better than any other Marvel film. It’s cocky, inspired, and imaginative, just like classic Marvel. In those days, Stan Lee marketed the Marvel comics as “Pop Art Productions” for a brief time. Iron Man is definitely a Marvel Pop Art Production–timely without being deep; disposable entertainment yet completely unforgettable. In other words, superhero comic books personified.

8 on a 1 to 10 scale

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2 Comments

  1. Wow nice (and such a long) post!

    i have not watched the movie yet
    but this post makes me want to watch it 🙂
    enjoyed reading it!

  2. It was enjoyable. It was good to see Robert Downey Jr back on top. You are right about there being something “new” and fresh about this. Great review — thanks.


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