Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Marvel Studios has an awful lot riding on the broad shoulders of Tony Stark and his alter ego ‘Iron Man’. Marvel’s most popular comic book properties which include Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Hulk and my personal favorite The Fantastic Four were sold off to various large studios for virtually pennies on the dollar mostly because Marvel needed cash in the worst way. Comic book readership isn’t what it once was, and this is for a number of reasons not the least of which is that a comic book costs over three dollars, which is a ton of money for a kid with no job who should be your future readers, as opposed to the couch change a comic book costs when I was a yung ‘un. Regardless, Marvel has decided its time to produce their own movies, so opposed to getting 5% of the gross from licensing out their products, by making their own movies they’ll dole out 10% of the gross to whomever chooses to distribute the picture, Universal in the case of ‘Iron Man’, and keep the rest. I ain’t got no MBA (sorry mom), but this looks like a better deal to me. If Marvel Studios virgin outing of ‘Iron Man’ is any indication of what’s to come down the line, it may be time to get bullish on Marvel Studios stock.

Tony Stark makes you feel he’s the cool exec with a heart of steel… Robert Downey Jr. assumes the role of playboy industrialist Tony Stark who has made billions designing weapons of mass destruction, convinced that might makes right and since freedom isn’t free, he might as well get paid in the process. Attempting to keep the completely irresponsible impulsive borderline alcoholic genius somewhat grounded are his best friend in Air Force Colonel Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard) who is about at his wits end with Stark and his antics. Stark also relies heavily on his personal assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) who handles all of the mundane events in his life that he has determined he doesn’t have the time to worry about, and lastly there is Obadiah Stain (Jeff Bridges) who has been with Stark Industries since it began with Tony’s father back in the day and handles the day to day business operations.

Then Iron Man all jets ablaze he fights and smites with repulsor rays… While demonstrating his latest most devastating weapon of Mass Destruction in Afghanistan Stark gets captured by a group of terrorist who force the critically injured genius to build them the very same weapon he was demonstrating earlier, which will be made from weapons these terrorist have acquired that all carry the Stark Industries logo. With fellow captive Dr. Yinsen (Shaun Toub), who built a device to keep Stark’s damaged heart beating, Stark takes the materials he is given and instead of building a missile, builds a suit of destructive articulated armor and manages to set himself free in a blaze of glory.

Blazing power, Iron Man! Amazing Power Iron Man! Seeing the light from his time captivity Tony has decided that his company should no longer be in the weapons business, which naturally upsets Obadiah and the Stark Industries board greatly, but Tony has other plans which includes further development of the armor he dreamed up while in captivity and thus Iron Man is born. Unfortunately for Mr. Stark evil is everywhere, sometimes sitting right next to you having dinner, and though he never meant for it to be used in this manner, his Iron Man armor could possibly be the greatest weapon ever created leading the original Iron Man having to do battle with a bigger, badder, meaner, uglier and more powerful version of himself. With a bum ticker. Good luck with that Tony.

One of the things that makes ‘Iron Man’ so entertaining is that this is a comic book movie in the truest sense of the word. It doesn’t have all of the silliness that was in both ‘Fantastic Four’ films and it doesn’t have nearly the amount of melodrama that infected the third ‘Spider-Man’ movie. Director John Favreau keeps the action brisk and precise delivering a film that is over two hours long that still leaves one wanting for more after it’s ended, and that’s high praise indeed. Favreau and his fellow filmmakers changed the Iron Man mythology from the comics just enough to keep the story current and topical but still managed to maintain the core elements of the Iron Man universe which we hope won’t upset the comic purist too much.

It also helps that ‘Iron Man’ has one of the better casts in recent comic book movie memory with Robert Downey Jr., who I guess is a self destructive genius himself, effortlessly making us believe that he was Tony Stark, translating the character from the page to screen flawlessly, keeping the character essentially the same despite the changes he goes through during the film. Gwyneth Paltrow does all that she can with the typical damsel in distress role, though she does get to do more and plays a much larger part than most damsels in distress and Terence Howard is a great actor was fairly underused as Jim Rhodes, but then this is what sequels are for, as his character hinted at during the film. Jeff Bridges certainly looked the part as bad man Obadiah Stain, but Mr. Bridges has such an air of ‘goodness’ around him and I’m pretty certain he’s probably the worlds nicest person so that no matter how mean you make him look, I never truly brought him as a villain. The Iron Monger armor was pretty badass though.

Marvel Studios has brought back the rights to ‘The Hulk’ which will be their second feature to be released later this spring starring Edward Norton, and it has some deep shoes to fill for sure. ‘Iron Man’ is the reason that 90% of us go to the movies in the first place and that is to grab some popcorn, some Raisinettes, an over priced pop and be entertained. I don’t know what that other 10% does for sure, but I think it involves watching movies spoken in French where some dude is looking out a window for ninety minutes musing about how miserable his life is. I don’t know if ‘Iron Man’ is ‘art’ or not, but I’ll take the dude in the shiny suit blowing stuff up any day of the week.

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