By: Bob Marshall
When Billionaire philanthropist Tony Stark’s life is threatened he is forced to build an armoured suit in order to escape his captors. When he returns home he realizes he’s been in the wrong business (arms dealer) and decides to use his armoured suit to fight for the forces of good as Iron Man.
Firstly I’d like to acknowledge I was never a huge fan of Iron Man, I watched his animated series in the 90s (which I enjoyed) and had read very little of his comic adventures (other than The Ultimates) but when I first saw the trailer for Iron Man way back when I was genuinely excited and that was mostly because of Robert Downey Jr. The guy simply put is Iron Man, he’s up there with Christopher Reeve as Superman or Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, you just don’t (or didn’t for a time) want to see someone else take over the role. Of course with Superman the time is right for a new actor to don the costume but with Iron Man we’re not ready for a new actor, which is why I’m shocked Disney do not already have Downey Jr locked in for (what I’m assuming will be for now) the final two Avengers films and possibly another Iron Man. I mean do they really think people will accept that it was Downey Jr in Avengers but not in Avengers 2? Get real Disney, but I digress this is a look back at the film that started the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it was one hell of a movie.
Now I normally do avoid spoilers but this film’s been out since 2008 so I don’t think I need to be quite as careful as I normally am.Right from the get go you get some really good humour and straight away you get some intense action. I do however think this was a strange way to start the film, Stark is captured by Terrorists and then it flashes back to before he was captured, which again leads up to the capture with the use of some fast forward montage. I personally felt they could have started the film from here and just led up to the capture at normal pace instead of doing what they did.
From there we get Stark’s well planned escape from the terrorists who want him to build a rocket but as we know he builds the Iron Man Mark 1 armor which is a wonderful nod to the original comics version.
After that, Stark returns home in which he improves the tech that’s keeping him alive, oh I forgot to mention a scientist that the terrorists had also captured built this weird battery thing attached to Stark’s chest that was keeping shrapnel inside his body reaching his heart. Stark of course built a better version but when he got home he built an even better version along with a much improved Iron Man suit.
From there we get some great moments with Stark & Pepper, Stark & Rhodey, and a great scene where Tony Stark travels to a poor war ridden country where he takes the weapons away from the terrorists and hands them to the people. It’s a really intense scene for a fun comic book movie but it gives the film that little bit of grit it needed.
Now of course there are conspiracies in the film and this is something that was an expected twist. Obadiah Stane turns out to be the villain and it was he who had planned for the terrorists to kill Stark so he could have full control of Stark Industries. Instead he has another plan. He wants the Iron Man tech, which he gets and builds a much bigger version. Now whilst its expected that Stane is the villain (it wasn’t hidden before hand in the trailers or the posters etc.) it’s also hard for Tony as this man has been a mentor to him since his father passed. This brings great emotion to when these two finally lock horns.
On the finale of the film I think this is where the film lets itself down mostly, the final fight much like most of the Marvel Phase 1 films is a bit of a let down. It just doesn’t feel big enough and it seems to be over fairly quickly. I also didn’t like how Bridges’ Obadiah Stane turned into a cliché villain at the end with cheesy one liners etc. (but I blame the script and director). It’s still decent and it doesn’t bring the film down more than a tad really.
Some things to note:
– lookout for what is one of Stan Lee’s best cameos as Hugh Hefner.
– Jon Favreau who directed the film stars as Tony Stark’s chauffeur Happy Hogan.
– the first after credits scene with Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury inviting Stark to join in the Avengers Initiative, who knew what this would lead too.
Robert Downey Jr is simply amazing as Tony Stark/Iron Man, there has been some great casting in superhero films but there’s only a select few who you can say totally embody the character, making it their own and be simply irreplaceable and Downey Jr fits into that category.
Jeff Bridges is as good as ever as the villainous Obadiah Stane, but he does ham it up a little at the end. Gwyneth Paltrow is so loveable as Pepper Potts it’s amazing how much her role will come to mean as the series went on. Terrence Howard isn’t too bad as Rhodey but I never really felt he was right and I can see why he was replaced by Don Cheadle for the sequel. Clark Gregg makes his first appearance as Agent Coulson and much like Potts what a role this would turn out to be as well, the guy was excellent as he is throughout the Marvel films. All other performances were fine.
The FX in this film are still top-notch, everything from the CGI to the multiple explosions and the final battle were unbelievably good and the best thing is as the series went on it got better and better but Iron Man still looks incredible.
A mix of score and classic rock songs was a great idea for this movie. Now I’m not a fan of rock songs but I do like the classics, especially some classic AC/DC.
The first Iron-Man film started something special and even though they had a cameo from Samuel L Jackson at the end of the credits I don’t think they had any idea what they were starting here. I think of the Phase I solo films Iron Man (whilst not my favourite) is definitely the best. Now that may sound stupid but when I take my bias to one-side I can’t argue from start to finish this is the most interesting and well defined of the solo movies. Add to that the most amazing performance from Robert Downey Jr, the kick-ass classic rock songs soundtrack, along with the FX and you have a winner. I’d definitely say this is one of the greatest superhero films of all-time and indeed one of the most influential alongside Superman (1978), Batman (1989), Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002) and The Dark Knight (2008).