“I came to realize that I had more to offer this world than just making things blow up.” – Tony Stark
A blast in the booty. Iron Man (2008) remains an ecstatic joy to see Robert Downey Jr. let it rip. Downey is the quintessential billionaire Tony Stark, the man inside Iron Man. Film after film, Downey retains his indie edge with his cocky and flippant personality without flipping the finger, either. He contributed that edge to the comic book blockbuster, and the genre itself found new standards because of him. We want a brilliant verbal dynamo as a hero, now we demand actors the quality of Downey to be a part of the tentpole blockbusters.
Born rich, Stark is a weapons magnate as passed down from his father. His business tour in Afghanistan goes awry, he nearly dies in captivity, but invents the suit – and the electromagnetic pulse – that lets him survive, and come alive as Iron Man. His M.O. with the weapons industry changes remarkably as a result. I realized that the recent “Iron Man 3” doesn’t have substance that equals the dramatic discoveries of this original. But what makes the plot gel is how Downey’s thoughtful motormouth considers the plot around him. Will his own weapons company lead to his own demise?
Running second in the joy department are those whooshing airborne scenes. You get the sense that Iron Man is travelling 100 mph with flying in the air, maybe it is 500 mph. Whatever the speed, Iron Man has the velocity of a missile. We have to look back at the old “Superman” movies to get the same airborne rush. The filmmakers should create an entire credit sequence of Iron Man flying across the planet in a future sequel installment. My wish.
The secondary performances thankfully are pleasurable. Gwenyth Paltrow lends the film blush as Pepper Potts, whom possesses the classiness of the 1950’s with a 2010 academic brain. Jeff Bridges is Stark’s business partner Obadiah Stane, a gross bald guy with greed in his veins. Stane has spent a lifetime watching the stock ticker, and he won’t let Stark mess with their company shareholder value.
Not enough was made of Iron Man partner Rhodey a.k.a. War Machine (Terrence Howard), a minor clash of egos between them occurs but not much else. None of the “Iron Man” films really did, even with Don Cheadle as replacement.
Regardless, Jon Favreau (“Elf”) demonstrated himself (this time only) as a fantastic action director who expertly paced his actors through some skin-searing, death-defying motions. Favreau actually gives a damn or two about human vulnerability beneath all the explosive chaos, that’s what counts. We care more about the Quintessential Billionaire than we do about the superhero armor, don’t we?
126 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
ACTION & ADVENTURE / SUPERHERO / MINDLESS WEEKEND EXCITEMENT
Film Cousins: “The Incredible Hulk” (2008); “Iron Man 2” (2010); “The Avengers” (2012); “Iron Man 3” (2013).