|By Zach Patterson||Wednesday, 7 May 2008|
Iron Man is the Marvel movie I’d been hoping they’d make for years. It really walks the fine line of what every comic book movie should do: tell a story that any audience can appreciate, make a movie that stands by the spirit of the comics, and don’t make it a fucking joke. Movies like X-Men 3, Spider-Man 3, Hulk, Daredevil,
and others failed at least one of these unspoken rules. Iron Man, however, takes the core of the character, smartly casted actors to fit those roles, and gave the movie a soul. For being a comic book action movie, it’s surprisingly deep and even funny at times. There’s no head-in-hands lame dialogue, awful action sequences, or head scratchingly dumb dance numbers. It just a good movie, along the lines of genre front runner Batman Begins.
I think the best part of the movie is easily Robert Downey Jr. This is the character he is meant to play, and he embraces and embodies the role of Tony Stark effortlessly. He’s cocky and funny, brilliant and introspective, flawed and driven…a very complete character. The supporting cast of Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, and Terrence Howard all give great performances as their respective characters and serve as more than just one-dimensional cardboard cutout characters around Stark.
Downey, however, really gives us a great performance early. We get to see him being a rich asshole, and then quickly see his world turn to hell as he is trapped by terrorists and has less than a week to live and build them one of his company’s most destructive weapons. During his captivity, he learns a lesson in humility and also that his life must change. His fortunes are built off of destruction and terror, and he becomes Iron Man in part to stop this from happening. And throughout the movie, though he does stupid shit and sometimes is a jerk, you can’t help but like Stark. Downey just has that personality that makes you unable to really hate the guy, which is perfect for this role.
I think what makes the movie work so well is that the pre-Iron Man superhero stuff is so compelling. I actually wanted more of that before it became more of a superhero-stops-the-bad-guy movie, which is impressive that they didn’t turn the movie into a “here’s Tony…boring stuff…IRON MAN!!!” The movie resembles a militaristic thriller early, and then later mixes it in with a healthy dose of action. The CG is done tastefully too, so it doesn’t become a shitfest of computer graphics that take you out of the action.
Another important part is that the villain isn’t hackneyed and lame. Instead, Jeff Bridges plays a pretty damn good villain. And while his motives are a bit on the “I’m just evil” side, he is portrayed as a relatable character, and you certainly get a lot more from his performance than Nick Nolte in Hulk or Topher Grace in Spider-Man 3. In a comic book movie, you need a great hero and a good villain, and Iron Man gives us both.
I think this really is one of the best Marvel has put out. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a fun movie with depth and a soul that fans and the general public can both enjoy. Great directing, great casting, great acting, and great action scenes make this a definite classic. Go see it in the theater.