Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Iron Man (2008)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
I remember when Iron Man was released in 2008 and my snobby outlook on comic book films concluded that it was a fad that wouldn't last. I didn't really know anything about Iron Man and as far as I was concerned that was just how it should stay. Thus, until late in March 2013 (this review has been scheduled since the end of March because of the A to Z) I hadn't actually seen Iron Man.

Having seen The Avengers, I decided that perhaps Tony Stark's alter-ego (with emphasis on the ego), wasn't such a bad character. So, in preparation for the release of Iron Man 3 later in April - or rather, because of the scheduling, last month - I figured now was a good time to catch up with what's been happening in Tony Stark's life.

I'd heard that Iron Man was a film - and a character - that provided far more laughs than many other comic book heroes, and during the introduction it is clear to see that this is the case. A multi-millionaire, Stark (Robert Downey Junior) develops advanced weapons systems for the military. On a demonstration of his latest missile, however, he is captured by the enemy and told to design the same missile for them.

Instead, Stark decides to build himself a way out of there and the first Iron Man design is created. Upon his return home he finds that his company's weapons have often been ending up in the wrong hands and he informs the media he no longer wants to manufacture weapons - much to the disgust of his second-in-command, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges).

Alongside Downey Jr. are Gwyneth Paltrow as Iron Man's assistant, Pepper Pots, and Paul Bettany as Downey's artificially intelligent housekeeper JARVIS.

Unlike many other films of the genre, Iron Man doesn't seem to revolve around the supernatural. The fantastical suit is a concept that is clearly plausible with enough time or money - even if it uses an element (adamantium) that doesn't exist. The arc reactor could be created with some currently unknown power source. Perhaps it is these plausible theories that made Iron Man so easy for me to understand and laugh along with.

As the main man, Robert Downey Jr. is fantastic and his dry humour is comical. At the end of the film I thought to myself, "who else could play Iron Man?", and the answer is simply no-one. Even when he is inside the suit, you are fully aware of the man rather than the machine which makes it very easy for the character's human aspects comes through.

There is still an element of fad about the film - yes, it feels corny - but perhaps this is something that I am confusing with the fact that comic books now appear to have their own genre. Iron Man fits perfectly into this category as the nerdism cult hits an all time high.

In truth, Iron Man was a huge gamble for Marvel in that they chose to begin an unknown entity rather than reboot something more well known. They definitely stacked the odds in their favour with a huge budget and the signing of huge Oscar-nominated names and, thanks to Marvel's guts and gusto, Iron Man was - and still is - a resounding success.

6 comments:

  1. I have enjoyed the Iron Man movies immensely although I havent seen the latest effort. The Avenger for me was HIGHLY disappointing. Very overrated and pretty dull on the whole. I much prefer the single character films, Thor was decent as was Captain America, but Iron Man has certainly been the best of the set so far.

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    1. Iron Man 3 review up now. I wasn't a fan of Captain America and I have yet to see Thor, but I agree that Iron Man is the best of those I have seen.

      None of them have a thing on Batman though... but that's probably down to Christopher Nolan.

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  2. I still have to see the first two now that a third is coming out. RDJ is really funny and makes every role his own (Sherlock Holmes, Tropic Thunder, etc.) And Jeff Bridges is one of my all-time favorite actors, so why haven't I seen these??

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    1. In truth, I only watched them in preparation for Iron Man 3. I saw The Avengers first.

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  3. The gamble was mostly the final capitalization of Robert Downey Jr.'s comeback, and finding the perfect snarky role. The actor no longer takes himself seriously, and clearly this character doesn't either. It was synergy. The goodwill from it helped propel everything else. The Incredible Hulk, released at the same time, was also meant to help launch the Avengers cycle, but it was quickly ignored by everyone.

    Anyway, so clearly my reference in your Iron Man 3 post to a storyline in the comics will probably go straight over your head. "Demon in a Bottle" is about Tony Stark's time as an alcoholic. In theory Downey is as suited as anyone to play this aspect of the role, given his own past troubles, but that's simply not the approach these movies can take. They take themselves seriously to a point, but not anywhere near as serious as, say, Christopher Nolan's Batman (although there are jokes in those movies, too).

    That's the main fault in these Avengers movies. They play to expectations for what a comic book movie "should" be while mostly trying to not repeat the mistakes of the past.

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    1. True, the only character from comic book films that I can think uses alcohol as a comfort is X-Men's Wolverine. Most of the others are more to do with getting too far involved in their work that it sends them crazy (Batman, Iron Man), or a scientific experiment gone wrong (Spiderman, Fantastic Four).

      Absolutely agree wholeheartedly with your closing statement. They are far too reliant on the 'craze' and the audience's goodwill to try to push the boundaries too much.

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