Not only does “Iron Man” epitomize everything a superhero movie should be, but it has what summer blockbusters aspire to: a fun blend of adventure, humor, emotion, romance and explosions. The movie spent more than 15 years in development hell bouncing back and forth between different studios, writers and directors. The bright side is that this is just the right creative team to tell the “Iron Man” story.
The direction, cast and dialogue are all solid contributors to the success of this film. At first, the cast seems unconventional, but after seeing them in action, each of the main players fit perfectly in their roles. Everyone, right down to the helper robots in Tony Stark’s workshop comes off as being largely likeable (or, in Jeff Bridges’ case, surprisingly menacing for a man most famous for playing someone known as “The Dude”).
Robert Downey, Jr. seemed like a fitting choice given his past substance-abuse problems and Stark’s history in the comics as an alcoholic. Therefore, despite any doubts about his past, age or abilities as an actor, Downey manages to make Iron Man’s alter-ego Tony Stark seem at times rakish, self-deprecating, hilarious, vulnerable and bad-ass.
In Director Jon Favreau’s own words, Downey makes Stark a “likeable asshole.” Iron Man is sometimes seen as Marvel’s answer to DC’s Batman, but here Stark is portrayed as a unique character who is just as complex, but half as emo. There are a couple updates to the origin story that help the film resonate with modern audiences. They’ve swapped the Vietnamese communists from the comic book origins for Afghan terrorists, and Jarvis, once a British butler, is turned into a home security system for the Iron Man suit with a British accent.
The plot seems to be meticulously planned out to hint toward sequels looming in the future. The film foreshadows Tony Stark’s military liason and friend James Rhodes becoming War Machine, and it can’t be a coincidence that Stark seems to be holding a glass of alcohol in most of his scenes.
The cast and crew have already signed on for two more sequels (as is customary these days). Downey also has a cameo in the upcoming “Incredible Hulk” film, which will develop into a collaboration for the eventual “Avengers” movie. Also, if you stick around after the credits of “Iron Man” you’ll see another big nudge toward an “Avengers” feature. “Iron Man” is likely to be Marvel’s next big franchise, stepping into the void left in “Spider-Man 3’s”‘s disastrous wake. “Iron Man” took in approximately $32.5 million on its opening day, which is the 14th-biggest opening day of all time.
“Iron Man” is just a good, clean, fun movie. While Stark is a bit of a womanizer, his relationship with his assistant Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) appears rather sweet and innocent. The action sequences are cool and the story contains enough emotional depth to keep it from being superficial. This film is the best Marvel superhero film since 2004’s “Spider-Man 2″‘s (sidenote: in terms of DC comics films, they have recently focused more on quality than quantity and their 2006 “Superman Returns” was the last great superhero movie). We will have to wait until June to see if the new “Incredible Hulk” continues this trend.
If you are looking for a fun way to beat that good old Irvine boredom, “Iron Man” might just be the film for you. I’d say it’s worth the ridiculous price to see it now, and worth seeing again once it makes it to the dollar theater.