Iron Man stands in my mind as the greatest super hero film released thus far. With a phenomenal mix of fantastic acting, near-perfect special effects, humor, and story, this film simultaneously gave me hope that future Marvel movies might actually be good, and brought the wonderful Robert Downey, Jr. back into the limelight.
As a character, the protagonist, Tony Stark, is in every way the perfect vehicle for Downey, Jr. as he assuredly inhabits the role and plays it out to its limit. Pushing social boundaries at every turn, Stark is a chauvinistic, rich, pompous ass of a man. However, unlike his would-be DC counterpart in The Dark Knight, he is actually more entertaining to watch in many respects than his superhero alter ego.
Stark manages to be both funny and endearing throughout the film – a brilliantly written script from Fergus, Ostby, Marcum, and Holloway makes every scene both witty and often-times hilarious, without being overly campy. I found myself eagerly awaiting Downey, Jr.’s next impeccably delivered line as much as I looked forward to seeing the suit.
An all-star cast play their respective parts well, with solid performances from both Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard, and Gwyneth Paltrow, even if Bridges and Howard were a bit under-utilized. In addition, the special effects are top-notch, realistic, and compliment instead of impede character development.
I also enjoyed the fact that this movie also adhered pretty closely, if not entirely, to the comic universe while updating it to a more contemporary setting. At the very least, they captured the essence of major Marvel superhero and made him appeal to the general public. Additionally, in a nice little tribute to avid readers, Iron Monger is portrayed in this film as the main antagonist.
Unfortunately, I would say where Iron Man trips up the most is towards the end. The climax of the film, though mostly satisfying, leaves something to be desired. This is because prior to this action sequence, there are brilliant set pieces that are used in other battles, and the final fight doesn’t match up quite as well as one might hope. However, the scope of the action in a film matters significantly less than the emotional meaning and story behind what’s going on, and in this respect, the scene succeeds.
And finally, following that, the last few moments of the movie wraps up the movie beautifully and leaves us wanting more.
All in all, it’s a wild ride from start to finish. This movie isn’t just good fan-fodder – it’s a good movie, period.
Verdict: Movie Win