JamesMan Reviews: Iron Man
To gear up for the next installment in the MCU, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, JamesMan went back to relive the other MCU films. Today's review is of the one that started it all, Iron Man.
Iron Man (2008)
I’m going to start off with this, this film kicks so much ass and so far is one of my favorite Marvel Studios productions. It’s funny typing that out for me because for the first two years of its release I was very uncaring about the film. By the end of 2008 I was in Batman fever land, Christmas was the biggest bukkake of Batman related material in my life. I got the DVD of The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, the entire Batman: The Animated Series set (and the films), the entire The Batman (2005-08) series (also got the film), Batman: Gotham Knight, as well as the entire series of Teen Titans. The last thing I cared about was Iron Man, I saw it in theaters that May and completely forgot about its existence. And like many, once time passes and I don’t remember much about a movie, I tell everyone I hate it! I think I did so just to not admit to my friend, whose favorite Marvel hero was Iron Man, that the film was good. Then I picked up the DVD in 2010 and sat down to watch it and… I loved it. It was so different to what I was used to in CBM’s while still holding onto keeping the film somewhat down-to-earth.
The story is a great reinvention of Tony’s origin, making it more modernized for our still heavily focused terrorist society. I didn’t think they could do much with a “metal man” but they did, making him a likeable person yet at some points still a douche bag, and even trashing the idea of secret identities (something we know comes to bite him in the ass in the future instalments). What can I say about Robert Downey Jr.’s performance that hasn’t already been said? He’s fantastic in the role, giving Tony the much needed wit and charm needed in this film. Much of the scripts dialogue is adlibbed and it gives a lot of scenes with Tony much more of a realistic feel without any really cheesy dialogue.
Terence Howard is a great straight-man to RDJ, and his performance as Rhodey is likeable, complimented even more so with Tony around (much better than the certain person they replaced him with…). Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts is again excellent, much of her dialogue is perfect writing and adlibbing, and again like Howard’s, is greatly complimented by scenes with RDJ.
Now we come to The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane. Again great performance (this movie is just stuffed with great casting) but I feel he was slightly undermined by the development given to the character of Obadiah. Don’t get me wrong, he has some great moments but he never really does much to indicate he was ever a father figure to Tony Stark. There is never a moment where they can show the type of bond they had, I mean, this was the man who was there for Tony and took care of his company when his father died. There should be some moment showing this connectivity and that would of added even greater drama to when we find out that Obadiah is a traitorous villain, but instead we just have scenes were he passingly talks to Tony and smirks devilishly in scenes. Anyone with an IQ of 40 could tell he was going to be the villain (he’s bald… EVIL!). But without the needed emotional weight we end up not caring about the villain, a factor which seems to plague Marvel Studios writing teams. Just imagine setting up that relationship and at the end fight when he’s blasted with the power of the reactor he lies on the roof dying and apologizes or says something meaningful to Tony… AAAAHHH! But enough about my fever dream.
I will say this though, that Iron Monger suit? Pure awesomeness.
The action is fantastic, with a particular highlight being the first time he wears the iconic red and yellow suit and takes on the terrorist organization attacking the people in a small village. The final fight as well is great, if just a tad bit short.
Now before my rating I want to mention one other flaw I have with the film. The structure of any story follows a 3-act structure and sometimes directors choose to play with these structures. These can either lead to something good, bad, or devastatingly disastrous for a film. Here it lands somewhere in between good and bad. I say this because while it has a clear first act and a clear third act, the second act just seems to be there to pass time with random and for the most part unconnected events. I know it sounds like a total nitpick but as a snooty film student I can’t help but let it bother me, but only a little.
Iron Man transcends what many CBM’s fall into. It isn't popcorn entertainment, it isn't just a good movie, but it comes to the pantheon that few in my opinion reach of being a good FILM. A piece of cinema that has artistic merit and whenever I can say that about my favorite genre of movies… I can’t help but smile. While not absolutely perfect, it was definitely a strong first outing for the fledgling company and so far is one of Marvel Studios strongest outputting’s.
Tony, I think you did more than okay. You did good son. You did good.
Iron Man gets a 4.5/5
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