Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blockbusters of Summers Past: Iron Man (2008) review

The film that kicked it all off. To quote Nick Fury in The Avengers, there was an idea to make a group of superhero movies and have them build up to one big film called The Avengers. 2008's Iron Man was the film that kicked off that idea. It's quite a kickoff, but it tonally differs from all the other Marvel films. There's still a wise cracking hero, an evil villain, some great one-liners and explosive action, but somehow Iron Man takes a darker tone, and it's plot is taken more seriously. A lot of people cite The Dark Knight for the exploration of terrorism in action films, but you have to give Iron Man credit as well.

Iron Man tells the story of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), a wealthy weapons magnate. He's in Iraq showing off his new missile, the Jericho to the US Army when he is hit by a bullet and a piece of shrapnel nears his heart. He's saved by a doctor but is now in the custody of a terrorist group called The Ten Rings. They want him to build a missile, but instead he builds a suit of armor to escape. Tony then decides to become Iron Man and fight terrorists instead of building weapons. But Obadiah Stain (Jeff Bridges) isn't keen on that happening.

As I said before, Iron Man is the most mature of all the Marvel films. There is humor and there is comic relief but the first half of the film is rather serious. And I think that's a positive for the film. One of my problems with other Marvel films is that they're too jokey. Iron Man is very funny at times but never falls into the pit of being too campy. That said, Iron Man has a great tone but also sacrifices some of the entertainment value that other Marvel films bring. It's got a slower, more meticulous pace but it all builds up to a satisfying conclusion.

The acting is great. Obviously, Robert Downey Jr. brings a ton of energy and humor to that part of Tony Stark and there is absolutely no way that Kevin Feige and Jon Favreau could have cast that part better. Same with Terrence Howard. It's a pity that he left the franchise because I will always see him as the real James Rhodes. Gwenyth Paltrow is also good but she doesn't have much to do in this film compared to the other sequels. Jeff Bridges is a perfect fit for the villain role.

The action holds up really well. I know this movie came out five years ago, but sometimes the action can seem really dated. But with Iron Man, it doesn't. There isn't much of it, but there are some spectacular sequences, especially the ones in Iraq and the middle east. The final battle is a bit underwhelming but satisfying. I will still say that this is the best ending of a superhero film ever.

Iron Man is Marvel's best film. It's not the best movie (that belongs to The Avengers). But in terms of script, story, characters, dialogue, and tone, Iron Man without a doubt in my mind is the best. It won't always keep your attention but it still is a very good film and one that will not soon be forgotten.


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