Ror Revisits: Iron Man
Widely regarded as one of the best CBMs we have had so far. Does John Favreu and Robert Downey Jr's first foray into super hero territory deserve that accolade? Click for my take..
I never liked Iron Man as a character. He just never interested me. In fairness, I probably never gave him enough of a chance, he was just that one character that I tended to avoid. I did like him as part of The Avengers but his solo stuff, nah, not my cup of tea. So when I heard that a movie was in the works I wasn't particularly excited. But then they cast Robert Downey Jr in the lead role and that made me pay attention. I thought it was an inspired choice. Then came the trailer and I was sold. But I honestly never expected to enjoy the movie so much when I actually sat down to watch it.
RDJ is excellent as Tony Stark, a selfish playboy war profiteer who comes to see the error of his ways after a stint in an Afghan prison and some nice new hardware keeping his heart ticking away. But even though Stark does become a hero, he crucially retains his arrogance and slightly assholish demeanour throughout. Downey is supported amply by Gweneth Paltrow as his assistant and love interest Pepper Potts. Their rapid fire back and forths could have been annoying with different actors and a different script(and ARE in the sequel) but their chemistry wins out and it's not over done(again, not so lucky with the sequel). Terrence Howard is decent as Stark's best pal James "Rhodey" future War Machine. But his role is under written and clearly set up for a sequel. And then there is Jeff Bridges, a man incapable of giving a bad performance imo, but his role as the villain here is one of the movies faults. Not exactly the character himself, just the need to use him as they do. I realize every movie like this needs an antagonist but it just works better while Stark is off setting the world to rights and coming to terms with his own responsibilities. Bridges' Obadiah Stane(Iron Monger) is used very effectively at first and even when he reveals his true colors(the scene in which he removes Stark's Arc Reactor from his chest is a corker) it's all good, but then when he puts on his much bigger and meaner armor it just becomes 2 cgi dudes punching each other and sort of descends into a fairly standard girl in distress CBM finale. Which is fine, and many wont care. I just thought that the movie could have benefited with a bit more thought put into the ending to go along with the impressively character driven first acts. The action scenes are handled very well. Exciting and at times surprisingly violent. A highlight is most certainly Stark's first mission as he takes out a few nasty foreign gents who are terrorizing a village. They also serve the story and not the other way around and the special effects are almost flawless.
Iron Man marked something of a departure for John Favreau, who up until that had directed two children's adventure films(Elf and Zathura) and his directorial début, the fairly rubbish Made). But it turns out he was the perfect man for the job, brining the fun and adventure from his earlier films but upping the action and sense of danger a few notches. The tone is pretty spot on throughout. Favreau isn't aiming for anything dark or deep here. There are some dramatic moments and themes of redemption(along with an anti-war slant if you're looking for it) but basically Iron Man is just a hugely entertaining action flick with seamless special effects. And that is no bad thing. It carries a PG-13 rating but does not pander to a younger crowd. The characters all behave and speak like adults and the humor in the film is actually funny. A few niggles aside Iron Man deserves it's high standing among CBM fans and is an example of the right way to go about making a comic book movie.
So did Iron man the movie make me a fan of Iron Man the comic character? Well, I still don't read his solo stuff but I do own a couple of Iron Man T-shirts. Progress!
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