Friday, May 02, 2008


Proven Metal

Iron Man is easily in the Top Five of the recent superhero film explosion -- up there with the first Spider-Man, Batman Begins and either of the first two X-Men features.

Robert Downey Jr. was meant to play Tony Stark, in the same way Hugh Jackman was meant to be Wolverine and Patrick Stewart was meant to be Professor X. The casting is perfect. And that's not even referencing the substance problems the real-life Downey and the fictional Stark have experienced.

The origin is appropriately updated, but remarkably faithful to the original. Stark is wounded in Afghanistan instead of Vietnam.

Some conservatives will undoubtedly dislike the bias against weapons-makers, but overall this movie is more pro-business than most films. Stark is almost as arrogant and intense at the end of the movie as he is at the beginning.

Jeff Bridges makes for a great mentor/foil in Obadiah Stane (fans of the comic book will realize the implications of Stane's role early on). Gwyneth Paltrow is a nice Pepper Potts, but doesn't exactly stand out in any significant way.

This movie is more like Batman Begins in that Downey (like Christian Bale in BB) really drives the movie. Unlike any of the other movies, when the major foe appears, he doesn't take over the film in the way Magneto, the Joker and the Green Goblin have done in other comic book flicks. Tony Stark is front-and-center for almos the entire picture.

The other thing I liked about this movie is that, while the special effects were excellent, director Jon Favreau (who also plays chaffeur Happy Hogan) never let the CGI overwhelm the film and turn it into a Playstation game.

Best line: "I had to do a piece for Vanity Fair." (You'll realize why the line is so good when you hear it.)

This summer may set a record for comic-book related films (The Incredible Hulk, The Dark Knight, Hellboy, The Spirit, etc.). Iron Man has set the bar high from the start.

Oh, and for the fanboys out there -- stick around through the (very) lengthy credits. You'll be glad you did (particularly those who are readers of contemporary Marvel Comics).

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