In the opening scene of Iron Man, an obnoxious black guy sitting behind me in the AMC commented, “Sheeiit, it always starts in a desert.”
Indeed, plenty of bad action flicks start out in the desert, US military officers in humvees and all. But with an excellent cast and tactful direction, Iron Man would prove to set a high bar for the comic movies of summer 2008 to come.
Robert Downey Jr. fills the flippant character of the brilliant, billionaire playboy, Tony Stark. Some would say the choice was typecasting—he knows what it’s like to be messed up on hard drugs—but whatever the reason, Downey rocks the role. His character’s arrogance and intelligence blend quite well in his dialogue, often executed with that enigmatic Stephen Colbert-esque facial expression, or lack-thereof. With his wit and air of authority, he seduces the ladies quite more effectively and believably than any of the recent James Bonds I’ve seen. James Bond, reportedly, was one of the inspirations for Lee’s vision of Stark, along with Mick Jagger and Howard Hughes.
For setting, Fevreau integrates Afghanistan and modern politics, an interesting modernization of the cold-war era comic. It’s a nod at what’s going on in today’s world, including the irony of enemies ending up with American-made weapons.
The film is also not without its sci-fi influence, pleasing to any of the geek breed. A technologically advanced suit has more scientific plausibility than the random DNA mutation-induced superpowers of most comic heroes. It’s powered by the fictional Arc Reactor, formerly an electromagnet attached to a car battery, designed to prevent shrapnel lodged in Stark’s arteries from circulating and killing him.
My boyfriend asked a question probably many viewers probably have, “Why don’t they just use surgery to get out the shrapnel?” My inner geek responded, “My guess it that it would potentially create massive hemorrhaging and cause him to go into cardiac arrest before they could finish. Plus it’s just cool to have more power than a nuclear reactor lodged in your sternum.”
But the non-intellectual viewer can appreciate the sci-fi elements as well: There’s a glowy power thingie! In his chest!
Iron Man lacks the mopeyness of the last X-men and Spiderman flicks. It doesn’t go overboard on the CG I like Ghost Rider and the seemingly plastic Fantastic Four. And much to my relief, it didn’t have immense of cheesy humor intended for comic relief; it had just enough at the right times.
Iron Man also provided a duality to the evil forces, the evilness clashing within itself, creating not just one distinct enemy. Who’s greed is the greatest and who will come out on top? It is indeed an epic battle you hope Iron Man will win.
I suppose this is considered cheating, but I looked at professional reviews before writing my own. From those reviews that were negative, I got the impression that most of those writers, such as Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post, wouldn’t appreciate any Marvel or DC movie.
Sorry, Ann, I found “Stark’s impish goatee and Iron Man’s full-metal body condom” strangely attractive. Do you have a “full-metal body condom” that can fly and talk to the wearer and track targets and prevent icing at extremely high altitudes? I think not.
Out of what’s playing in the theaters at the moment, I would suggest this one. Iron Man is comic movie gold… well, technically a gold-titanium alloy. /geek.
Also, this youtube video of batman and ironman bickering made me giggle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlLeCu63HCA