When Jon Favreau announced Robert Downey Jr. would be portraying billionaire playboy and self-built superhero, Iron Man, many questioned the decision. Did he have the swagger? Could he even pull off being a superhero in general? “Iron Man” has landed and the doubts have been put to rest: Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Faveau have created one hell of a start to the summer movie season.
We meet Tony Stark tagging along with a convoy in the deserts of Afghanistan. Even here, he has drink in hand and is talking away. The film doesn’t waste too much time, though. A few minutes in, the action starts. Stark’s convoy is attacked by Afghan soldiers and he is taken hostage.
He discovers horrible things during his stint as a captive. The weapons his company, Stark Industries, has been creating have ended up in the hands of these Afghan enemies. They lock him in a cave and demand he makes them a Jericho, the super weapon Stark Industries has created.
Instead, he creates the first version of his new identity: Iron Man. He makes it back home after a rough escape and comes to terms with what his company has done. Stark takes it upon himself to help those he’s put in harm’s way, with the help of assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Air Force member Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard) but to the dismay of mentor Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges).
What the film does well is present an imperfect superhero through plenty of story instead of an overload of action. Favreau doesn’t present a mess of action to show that Stark feels accountable for what he has done. He shows it through narrative, and rightfully so. Most of this comes though the interaction between Stark and Potts, a genuine connection between not only boss and assistant but between two people that can’t function without each other – in a good way.
The friendship between Stark and Rhodes could have been a little better fleshed out, though. There was enough there but they could have used a bit more friendship and tension between the two. However, there is a good hint at a sequel with some of Rhodes’ dialogue and a great nod to his future alter ego, War Machine.
“Iron Man” takes some chances updating the content with the inclusion of Afghan soldiers as they are clearly presented as terrorists. It doesn’t stress their terrorist activities as much as it does them being the enemy, so it works in the film’s favor.
One of the great things about Iron Man is that it gives audiences a look at not quite the antihero, but not quite the Boy Scout, either. Stark is a larger-than-thou character that is suddenly thrown back down to Earth and humanized to a good extent. He has problems – most notably an alcohol problem, which is hinted at in this film but will most likely be more of an issue in a possible sequel. (In the comics, Tony Stark was an alcoholic.)
So while movie executives are shaking in their boots, worried that Grand Theft Auto IV will keep their targeted audiences out of theaters and in front of their game consoles, they should be rest assured. “Iron Man” is a thoroughly enjoyable superhero film filled with enough action to complement the well-presented story.