Let’s be honest. “Spiderman” was very cheesy. Tobey Maguire crying is a very funny sight. Kirsten Dunst is not that attractive. “X3” seriously lost its way by the end, after promising so much. And “Iron Man”? Do you remember a little film called “The Rocketeer”? “Iron Man” is kind of like that. On steroids.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved “Spiderman,” and I’ve never really cared much for that Iron dude. The “Iron Man” movie however, kicks some serious ass. Right from the get-go, AC/DC’s head banging “Back in Black” blasts out, and the rest of the film follows suit and simply rocks.
Our arrogant yet suave Tony Stark – a riveting Robert Downey Jr. – is captured in Afghanistan and forced by quite possibly the most brooding generic Middle Eastern villain of all time to build a weapon for his group of rebels. Barely alive, Stark is able to trick his captors into believing the weapon is on its way, while instead he is actually building a prototype Iron Man suit, complete with flamethrowers. This is all somehow magically done under the gaze of security cameras (man those bad guy cronies are getting really dumb these days), and as soon as the metallic behemoth busts out of those cave-doors, the fun truly begins.
Stark heads back home to do away with his corrupt arms dealing past and instead builds a fucking cool suit. The evolution of said suit is an absolute joyride. Downey’s comic timing is as spot-on as ever, and he pulls off the proverbial playboy billionaire role with the greatest of ease. Nonetheless he is very much a man on a mission to do right in the world. Downey is, without a doubt, the best person to play Tony Stark.
The fast-paced, witty script gives Downey plenty of room to breathe, while the other actors form a superb ensemble cast. Particular note goes to Gwyneth Paltrow as the poorly named Pepper Potts, whose scenes with Downey are a joy to watch. Unfortunately Terrence Howard is given a few sloppy bits of dialogue, but shines nonetheless as Stark’s best friend Jim Rhodes. A bald but bearded Jeff Bridges avoids becoming a camp Lex Luthor, but still reeks of sliminess as Obediah Stane.
Director John Favreau manages to balance the fun and the political very well. The message of arms dealing in the Middle East is clear, but never does he try to hammer you over the head with it. Thankfully, the film also never dives into Cheeseland; there’s no soap-opera romance, no damsel in distress, and no Tobey Maguire crying like a wet ball of Silly Putty. It’s all fantastic to watch up until the final act, when all of a sudden it rushes to provide Stark with an enemy, which is a bit of a let down in light of the preceding 90-odd minutes. Otherwise, it’s an absolutely gem of a blockbuster, and I’m already looking forward to a great sequel.
Oh and to all the Marvel fans, make sure you absolutely stay until the credits are done.