Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some Intense Sequences of Sci-Fi Action and Violence, and brief Suggestive Content
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Written by: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum & Matt Holloway
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges & Gwyneth Paltrow
IRON MAN was the second turning point in modern superhero cinema (the first was Chistopher Nolan’s reboot of Batman). IRON MAN came to show that the Marvel Universe had entered the world of The Avengers. I can’t recall another time in movie history that a series of somewhat unrelated films were formed to lead up to one mega-blockbuster. It certainly doesn’t hurt that this was a good start for the series of superhero films that included many remarkable individuals and spanned across two different worlds. Taken on its own, the first IRON MAN entry is a pretty good flick.
Tony Stark is a billionaire genius who makes his fortune off selling weapons. During a trip to Afghanistan, Tony is abducted by a group of terrorists demanding that he duplicate a weapon of mass destruction for them. What Stark actually works on is an armor-clad suit complete with attached weapons. After an explosive escape, Tony comes back home to rethink his personal responsibility in peddling tools of war. This leads to the dismay of his stock holders and faithful partner, Obadiah Stane. Using his ingenuity, Tony Stark becomes Iron Man!
First of all, Robert Downey Jr. owns his role as Tony Stark. He makes it so it’s pretty much impossible to imagine anybody else in the role, though there might be an eventual reboot coming in a few decades. This is the kind of character that it’s difficult to separate the actor from. Robert Downey Jr. just knocks it out of the park here and winds up being the most charismatic superhero to grace the genre. Although Downey Jr. is amazing, it seems that nearly everyone else here is used as means to an end. Jeff Bridges is tragically underused. Terrence Howard is the only other one with anything resembling a real personality. Finally, Gwyneth Paltrow feels forced as the love-interest.
Despite what Christopher Nolan’s DARK KNIGHT trilogy might have you believe, most superhero movies wind up being about the spectacle and IRON MAN nails this down perfectly! The special effects still hold five years later as stellar. The action scenes, though not as frequent as one might expect, are adrenaline-pumping too. It also makes the film even more entertaining to spot all the references to the (at-the-time upcoming) AVENGERS movie. I chuckled more than once at seeing something that would make a big comeback later on in the Marvel universe.
The main problem that IRON MAN suffers from is a script that totally feels like a bit of a been-there, done-that origin story. We pretty much know how things will play out from the get-go. There is also a half-assed twist that can be guessed about 30 minutes into the film. However, even with a barely serviceable script, IRON MAN manages to stand tall as a very fun, entertaining and downright cool superhero film. It’s not fine art and there are certainly better movies in the Marvel cannon, but IRON MAN is still a solid superhero story! If you haven’t seen it yet (I can’t imagine why you haven’t), then give it a look!