So I watched Iron Man…
It’s interesting looking back now on the mammoth that The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become. This is the film that started it all. Before this, superhero movies occurred in isolation, in alternate universes where only one hero was allowed to exist at a time. This film had actually one of the toughest jobs of all the films in the MCU, it had to start it all off and what a start it turned out to be.
Okay, basic plot: Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is a genius, billionaire playboy who lives his life without consequences or much thought for others. Stark’s company makes the majority of its profits through weapons sales and one day during a weapons demonstration in Afghanistan, Tony is abducted by a rogue terrorist group. While in captivity, Tony is forced to face the reality that his weapons haven’t always been used on the right side of the world’s conflicts. Determined to prevent his weapons from falling into the wrong hands, Tony develops his greatest weapon of all – a wearable suit of armour. Clad with his suit of armour, Tony becomes Iron Man and sets out to build a more peaceful world.
This is one of those great instances where an actor is perfectly suited to play a role. Robert Downey Jr’s infamous past makes his him the perfect person to portray the booze-fueled, narcissistic playboy that is Tony Stark. It’s difficult to see where the actor stops and the character begins. This makes for a memorable performance and one so iconic that it’s impossible to imagine any other actor bringing this character to life. Speaking of not being able to imagine other actors bringing a character to life, I really enjoyed Terrence Howard as James Rhodes – Tony’s best friend. He’s the exact right mix of stern and cool and I really wish Howard could have stayed on.
The entire film’s cast is quality and they really do great work portraying their respective characters. Jeff Bridges as Obediah Stane is probably my favourite character, second to Stark. He’s the obvious bad guy but he plays it so well. Also Bridges gives us perhaps the coolest moment anyone has ever had on a Segway. Overall, I found his character to be another forgettable Marvel villain. I guess he’s actually the original forgettable Marvel villain.
I wonder why Marvel has this obsession with giving their villains and heroes the exact same powers. Think about it, Iron Man and War Monger, Captain America and Red Skull; Ant-Man and Yellow Jacket; Black Panther and Killmonger. It feels like Marvel is trying to force the metaphor of the hero and villain being two sides of the same coin but it isn’t working and leads to rather dull final fight scenes. Speaking of which, the final third of this movie is where it let me down. It feels like all the creativity and magic that the rest of the movie has in abundance dries up and we’re forced to watch a by-the-numbers fight scene where two people with the exact same powers and abilities fight each other.
That being said, I actually think this movie’s true villain is Tony’s demons. Building the suit and becoming Iron Man is a form of catharsis. As he hammers away at the metal and perfects his design, he’s actually improving himself as a person. There’s so much great character development in this film but Tony Stark never loses his sense of self. The character develops but doesn’t become a completely different person. It’s great to see because often in these superhero films the hero loses their edge and becomes a boyscout.
Overall, Iron Man is probably the best standalone movie that the MCU has to offer. In fact, it’s one of the best films the MCU has, period. Robert Downey Jr gives us a performance of a lifetime and is supported by a well-written script and brilliant cast. It’s definitely worth watching 9/10