Synopsis: When wealthy industrialist Tony Stark is forced to build an armored suit after a life-threatening incident, he ultimately decides to use its technology to fight against evil.
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, Leslie Bibb, Bill Smitrovich, Nazanin Boniadi, Micah Hauptman
Director: Jon Favreau
Running Length: 126 minutes
TMMM Score: (7/10)
Review: Though highly successful with their Spider-Man films, Marvel Studios had long tried to get a solid franchise started around The Avengers and it wasn’t until 2008’s Iron Man that things started to click. After failing to start a fire with 2003’s Hulk, the studio treaded carefully until they saw an opportunity with Robert Downey Jr. to really take things to the next level. The end result was truly the start of something great and five years later the character and the franchise are raking in the big bucks all over the world.
Iron Man was one of the comic book heroes that wasn’t much on my radar when the film opened in May of 2008 and I didn’t really get why the film was so highly anticipated. Aside from seeing the character on the big screen, many fans knew that this really was the first film in a new series of planned superhero films that would culminate in a gathering of The Avengers. All eyes were on the film when it opened and when it was so well received, a collective sigh of relief was heard from fans and studio bosses alike.
The success of the film can really be attributed to Downey Jr.’s well formed portrayal of mega-billionaire Tony Stark who becomes Iron Man after nearly losing his life in a terrorist plot that takes up a good 40 minutes at the start of the film. These crucial 40 minutes have a lot of mileage to cover and for me the movie just skimmed along at the beginning. When Stark returns to his life after a spectacular break-out is when the film really started to jive in my eyes with the script allowing more interaction with Stark and his surroundings as he hones a new idea about where his life is headed.
Most definitely an origin story that seems like more of a set-up for the films that would follow it, there’s still no denying that there’s a lot of excitement to be had in this first installment of Iron Man. Downey Jr. is pretty excellent as the flawed anti-hero that comes into his own over the course of the movie. There’s nice support from Paltrow and even if her role isn’t as developed as it would be in future films, she has a great rapport with Downey Jr. that feels right. Director Favreau takes a small role for his own and one wonders why he even bothered because there’s not much for him to do. Knowing now that Don Cheadle would replace Howard as Stark’s best friend, it’s hard to give the peformance much of a review…only to say that Cheadle is much more suited to the role than Howard was. Future Oscar-winner Bridges is the very essence of movie villainy but there’s a curious lack of danger as the film thunders toward a conclusion.
For an introduction to Tony Stark and the Iron Man world, this is a very entertaining film…even with some bugs in the system.