I’m a geek. I love comic books. In the last few years I’ve really gotten into Iron Man. Not as much as I was ever into Spider-Man or Starman, but I read everything that comes out each month. So I was excited about this movie, even more so after the trailers started appearing.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark was...well, not really inspired, but obvious. Stark is a recovering alcoholic playboy and, well, we all know about Downey’s past. Obvious or not, he delivers. Terrence Howard works well as James Rhodes, although I always imagined his character with a deeper voice. I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of Gweneth Paltrow but, as with Julia Roberts, her acting chops always impress me. She handles Pepper Potts masterfully. And Jeff Bridges always works as a bad guy. So let’s have a round of applause for a wonderfully put together cast.
Now, the main reason comic book movies tend to get bashed by comic book readers (and the main reason why Quentin Tarantino, an admitted comic book geek, won’t ever be involved in a comic book adaptation) is because liberties are always taken with the character’s origin, the character’s look, the character’s powers, or how the character acts. But let’s look at this seriously for a moment. In the case of Marvel’s cache of characters, most of the legends (Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, Daredevil, the Fantastic Four) were created in the early ‘60s. Captain America (another Marvel legend) and most of DC’s big guns (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) were created in the late ‘30s or early ‘40s. So a modern update for most of these characters is needed. Spider-Man’s origin was switched from being bitten by a radioactive spider to being bitten by a genetically enhanced spider. Here, Tony is injured while demonstrating a new weapons system in the Middle East rather than in Vietnam, where he was injured during his first comic book appearance.
Watching Stark build the first suit and tear through the terrorist camp was amazing, like seeing Wolverine pop his claws for the first time in the first X-Men movie or watching the Joker rob the mob bank at the beginning of Dark Knight. It was just so damn cool.
As with Batman Begins, a lot of the fun from this movie is in watching the gadgets being created, watching the man become an Iron Man, from the first failed attempt at boot jets to the final (and classic) paint scheme of red and gold.
I loved the look of Iron Monger. The first Iron Man comic I ever read was issue #200, where Stane first dons the Iron Monger armor and ends up committing suicide at the end of the story. I much preferred Stane/Monger is this movie version rather than his comic book counterpart. The armor seemed so much more menacing
A few more little things I liked: Agent Coulson and everybody commenting that Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division is too wordy, and then at the end Coulson ends up calling it S.H.I.E.L.D.; Raza calling his group the Ten Rings (is this setting up the Mandarin as the villain for the sequel?) I also liked how Stark got into his armor. It looks like Favreau took a hint from the Ultimates, but rather than having a crew put the suit on him, his work-shop robots did it. It was a hell of a lot better than trying to get us to believe that the whole damn thing could fit in a briefcase. And the Nick Fury cameo at the end? Awesome.
If you can’t tell by now, I loved this movie. It was fun, it had the right amount of drama and humor, the acting was top notch, and the action was great. The fight between Iron Man and Iron Monger was brutal, and in the end Stark has to rely on his brains to win rather than the suit. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and are a fan of action movies with a splash of smart assery thrown in, rent this movie. In fact, just buy; it’s worth watching again and again.