Now the time is here / For iron man to spread fear
Iron Man is directed by Jon Favreau and stars Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shuan Toub, and Gwyneth Paltrow. It is the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It didn't hit me until I re-watched Iron Man for the first time since I saw it in theaters just how much it can be compared to the likes of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Wealthy genius playboy Tony Stark has the mental prowess and supplies to turn himself into a superhero, much in the way that Bruce Wayne overcame his fears to eventually transform into The Dark Knight. The playboy-style, spotlight-loving personality of Tony Stark is most reminiscent of the late 90's Batman, particularly in Batman & Robin, where Batman makes public appearances as if he was a celebrity and not the superhero who thrives in the darkness. Unlike Batman, Iron Man never had the blessing of being put to film multiple times over several decades. It was not until he jump started the MCU that Iron Man got his proper introduction to the 21st century. Now it seems like he's showing up in ever other MCU movie.
While it probably isn't obvious from my previous reviews, I will just come out and say that my interest and approval of the MCU has heavily waned recently. I think their films have just gotten worse and worse after the release of the first Avengers, no longer offering anything fresh and innovating. I can still pick and choose specific MCU films that I highly approve of, and Iron Man is one of them. For anyone who was desperate to see Iron Man's origins on the big screen, it doesn't get any better than right here. And not only does the film serve as a well-told origin tale, it also comes through as a well-crafted superhero flick with enough action and exposition to be appealing even to non-comic book readers like myself.
Think of Iron Man like Batman Begins. We meet Tony Stark (Downey Jr.), who becomes the head of the highly successful Stark Industries after his parents suddenly pass away. Tony has it all: fame, money, beautiful women to take to bed, and a genius brain. He travels to Afghanistan one day to give a presentation on a new missile dubbed "Jericho" that is intended to make enemies run and hide at a moment's notice. A terrorist group captures Tony, however, and imprison him inside a cave, refusing to release him until he builds them a Jericho missile to use. Upon being captured, Tony has an electromagnet implanted into his chest to save his life from wounds that he suffered. In the cave, Tony befriends fellow captive Yinsen (Toub), and the two work together to devise an escape plan. Tony and Yinsen work together to build a suit of armor, powered by Tony's electromagnet. Tony is able to successfully escape from the cave and returns home with a change of heart about the use of weapons in Stark Industries.
- Iron Man stands out from other superhero films, especially some other ones in the MCU, because of its smart plot. Tony Stark matures before our very eyes through the film's 126 minutes, and his reasoning behind becoming Iron Man is as good a reason as you'll ever find in a superhero origin. Tony Stark wants to believe that his weapons can be used for a greater good and in a smarter way, much to the disagreement of some of the other characters, primarily the shady Obadiah Stane (Bridges). We can find many examples and metaphors for nuclear weapons, but Iron Man comes at us with ideas and themes about weapons, period. Why do humans use weapons? Are they just meant to strike fear into groups of people we fear? When is it and when is not okay to use weapons? Should we have them at all? Superhero films reach lofty heights when they address realistic themes and not just restrict themselves to mindless popcorn fun.
- The film's pacing is a noteworthy high point as well. Everything keeps moving without ever getting bogged down in pointless dialogue or action filler. The film is always able to keep your interest.
- Iron Man's only notable slip-up is in its weak villain. I never thought that the MCU had strong villains, and that's no exception here. You can just look at the poster and deduce that Jeff Bridges' Shane turns out to be the film's antagonist, because he's got that obvious evil smirk going. There is absolutely nothing that happens during the film that would even attempt to convince you that Obadiah Stane will remains pals with Tony Stark. The most I can say about Stane is that he wants all of the power and ideas for himself. Jeff Bridges had googled the Book of Obadiah from the Bible and found that retribution is a major theme. Retribution is part of Stane's character, and it makes sense because Stane gets upset at how Tony wants to turn away from the direction that made Stark Industries so successful in the first place. It's just so obvious and easy to figure out that the retribution theme loses credit because so.
Despite my personal feelings towards the MCU, I have to give credit where credit's due. Iron Man succeeds in every facet necessary for a superhero movie to succeed, especially one that covers an origin. With a solid lead performance from Robert Downey Jr., a well-constructed plot, and enough satisfying action set pieces, Iron Man is a well-oiled machine that starts up the MCU's dynamic engine that's still running full power nearly a decade later.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: