Marvel’s Iron Man kicked off the summer movie season in the US – probably the most anticipated months for moviegoers all over the world. Iron Man has all the makings of a summer movie. It has the big budget, the big concept, the cool special effects and kid friendly theme. And at first glance, it also has one of the more ubiquitous qualities of a summer movie – the fluff and the leave-your-brain-outside-the-theater sensibilities.
Thus, I was so pleasantly surprised to find out that Iron Man had all of the qualities that I cited, except for the last two. It is a pretty good superhero movie and can be safely included in the painfully few number of superhero-themed films that actually succeeded without having to dumb itself down.
What makes Iron Man work is that it pays homage to the Marvel superhero character by actually looking for the strengths in Tony Stark’s character. Director Jon Favreau correctly realized that a man in a tin suit is just that, and will ultimately be as boring as watching an anonymous, nondescript tank demolish a town. Iron Man works because Tony Stark is a fully realized character. Favreau knows that if he doesn’t flesh out Tony Stark well enough he’ll have a clunker of a movie. Fortunately, Robert Downey, Jr. can more than ably fill Stark’s shoes. Downey shows that he really is one of the most gifted actors in Hollywood. He effortlessly plays the playboy genius with a taste for the high life with authenticity and yet with a playful sense of humor.
Iron Man could well be one of the most cleverly casted superhero movies in recent years. Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges are superbly cast and really play well with each other. Present is the rare dynamic that you only see when the actors really gel with each other and their characters.
The action sequences are all well made and just paced enough with the more expository parts of the movie to really make it entertaining. Having said that, this is not a movie for small children or people with short attention spans. Iron Man regales in its character development with a few lengthy scenes. Action fans will definitely accuse this movie of being a “talkie” but then they’re idiots anyway so who cares what they think.
The special effects of the armor are really cool and well worth the price of admission. I remember when I was a kid and, reading an iron Man comicbook, I knew that making a movie like this will be impossible. But with the level of technology today, I am quite glad to say that I was proven wrong. There is a heft and weight to the CG Iron Man that is just really astounding.
One clever thing about Iron Man is that it also serves as a jump-off point for more developments in the Marvel movies that will be coming in the next two to three years. If the short three-minute scene after the end credits really do come true, then fanboys will have to spend a lot of sleepless nights thinking of all the possibilities of the “ultimate” superhero movie.