Despite being somewhat of a comic book geek growing up, I never read a single Iron Man comic. I couldn’t have told you anything about Tony Stark (the man behind the Iron Man’s mask) or any of Iron Man’s special powers. None of that, however, stopped me from going to see the Iron Man movie on opening day.
*** Minor Spoilers Follow ***
Robert Downy Jr. plays Tony Stark, the rich and famous owner of Stark Industries – the world’s top weapons manufacturer. Stark is out in Afghanistan demonstrating his latest weapon to the U.S. military. But he’s captured by a powerful Afgan warlord who demands Stark create the same weapon for him. Instead Stark creates a suit that allows him to escape and starts him on the path to becoming Iron Man.
Part of the first superhero movie is setting up how the person actually becomes the hero and Iron Man is no different. After his escape, Stark begins to question the purpose and mission of his company becomes obsessed with building another suit. Yet this part of the movie doesn’t seem to drag. There’s enough testing or the suit gaffes and company-issues with Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) second in command that it keeps the plot and tension going. And when the action gets going – look out! There’s a surprising amount of real-world tension that many superhero movies lack.
Iron Man is one helluva superhero – one that I actually admire because – like Batman – Tony Stark has no superpowers. Instead or special powers or genetic mutations, it’s Starks’s obsessive drive to make the world a better place that leads him to become Iron Man. (And all these years I thought it was only Bruce Wayne/Batman who fit the bill. It’s nice to be proven wrong.)
You don’t have to be an Iron Man or even a comic book fan to appreciate this movie. Downy Jr. delivers a wonderful performance and the writers create a wonderful complex and driven character that fun to watch even when he’s not in his Iron Man suit.
The only place the movie falls flat is the tension and "relationship" (I use that word very loosely) between Stark and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Not enough time is spent on the Potts character or their relationship so romantic tension between the two characters is nonexistent. The scene where Stark tries to make a move is painfully bad. Thankfully, that’s only a small part of the film.
Overall, Iron Man is a fun summer movie and a must see for anyone looking for a well written, action-packed thrill ride. Oh, and if you sit through the credits, there’s a nice surprise at the end. Can you say, Iran Man 2 in 2010? I hope so!
Iron Man *** ½ stars (out of 4)