Iron Man is a big screen outing for the metal superman, and stars Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man himself is a mixture of computer generated imagery and actors in various versions of the armoured suit. The film is also more firmly rooted in the newly born Marvel Cinematic Universe than the other Marvel film adaptations that have come before it.
Remember when comic-book movies were shit??
Films like The Phantom and Fantastic Four were just poor, the stories were crap and the actors generally did not seem to be bothered…but in 2008 it was decided that superhero films were going to be taken seriously damn it!!
What is happening in the new Marvel Cinematic Universe???
Well, Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) is a charismatic playboy billionaire weapons designer who is more interested in gambling and engaging in one-night stands than accepting awards for his weapons. During a visit to war torn Afghanistan Stark’s convoy is attacked and he is badly injured by one of his own weapons. He survives and is captured by a group of terrorists. It turns out that the weapon that detonated near him has embedded shrapnel in his body and his cellmate Dr. Yinsen (Shaun Toub) had implanted an electromagnet into his chest that will keep the shrapnel out of his heart keeping him alive. The terrorists want Stark to build a devastating weapon, but together with Yinsen, Stark plans his escape by building a huge mechanical suit of armour that he uses to get away and back home.
Back in the United States Stark’s business partner, and friend of his father, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) becomes worried when Stark returns and announces that Stark Industries is no longer going to make weapons. Unfortunately the decision to stop making weapons is denied by the board of directors. So Stark resurrects his armoured suit design and sets about creating a weapon capable of ridding Afghanistan of the weapons he never intended them to have. He is aided by his assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his friend and company military liaison, Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes (Terrence Howard).
Stark’s growing obsession with his Iron Man creation is overshadowed as he begins to realise who was really behind his abduction.
This is the first of a new breed of film. In recent years virtually every Marvel creation has been given a big screen update, and some have been hugely successful (think Spiderman) and others had been relative failures (think Hulk). Robert Downey Jr is expertly cast as the initially arrogant and womanising Tony Stark who slowly begins to realise that his creations are being used to attack the very people he built them to defend. Not since Toby Maguire was cast to play the web-slinging Spider-Man have films makers found someone more fitting to play a marvel character. Downey Jr effectively oozes charm but once he realises what he had done the burden of that knowledge begins to overwhelm him.
The supporting cast are all on top form and director Jon Favreau also stars as Stark’s limo driver. This film is the origin story and tracks the evolution of both Tony Stark and the Iron Man suit as, through trial-and-error, Stark figures out how to make his creation work. Howard is excellent as Stark’s long suffering friend who assists Stark in any way he can. In the comics Rhodes became War Machine and there is a moment when he glances at a prototype of the Iron Man suit but does not don it.
Jeff Bridges is also on fine form as Stark’s business partner who is not exactly happy about the change in Stark when he returns from his three month captivity.
Iron Man is probably the best Marvel adaptation since Spider-Man or X-Men 2 with an excellent cast and director. Iron Man creator Stan Lee also does his usual cameo (he only cameos in films with characters he created which is why he wasn’t in Ghost Rider). The special effects are very impressive and fortunately there aren’t any moments in which the audience is forced to endure a bad CGI effect that ruins a breathtaking sequence.
I am giving Iron Man the Thumbs Up because it made a change to actually see a decent superhero film, the humour is tongue-in-cheek and is well worth your time.
Finally for those who don’t know there is a short sequence after the credits.
8/10 - Iron Man is a great film full of excellent performances and impressive special effects.