In anticipation of Iron Man 3 I decided to watch the first one again and it still holds its own.
Seems so long ago when Marvel started releasing their own movies and began their Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Back in 2008 I am not sure people knew how big it was going to be.
There was a lot of uncertainty when it first came out. Iron Man was a lesser known comic book hero and had been in development hell for a long time. There were points when Nicolas Cage and Tom Cruise were going to play Iron Man. Before Jon Favreau took the reins as director several other directors were asked and fell through including Quentin Tarantino and Joss Whedon. Well obviously it did better business than anyone could hope and we now wait for Iron Man 3 to kick off Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Here is a brief recap of the movie for those unfamiliar with it. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a rich playboy who runs the weapons manufacturing company Stark Industries. After being kidnapped by terrorists using his own weapons he is forced to find a way to escape. His solution is to build a suit of iron. After his escape he has a change of heart and reevaluates what matters in his life. He shuts down weapons manufacturing at his company angering the other shareholders and devotes his time to perfecting his suit. When others learn of his suit they try to duplicate it and he is forced to do battle.
I have to admit I am not a comic book reader and I had no idea who Iron Man was before seeing the movie. But the casting of Robert Downey Jr. is what makes this movie work. Downey was born to play this role. They needed someone that could play a lovable asshole who eventually turns into a hero and Downey plays it perfectly. In the beginning he is an arrogant prick and at the end his is an arrogant hero the whole time playing by his own rules and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. The final battle is cool but not spectacular but by then we have seen Tony’s full character arc and that is the more important thing. Watching this I thought whoever wrote the lines was pretty good. The dialogue and the wisecracks that Tony makes are funny and perfect. But reading a little bit more I guess most of those lines were improvised by Robert Downey Jr. proving again that without him this movie could have been really really bad.
I have to give credit to the other stars in this movie too. There are lots of Oscar nominated actors in this movie. When I first heard that Gwyneth Paltrow was going to be in it I had my doubts, but she plays Tony’s assistant Pepper Potts perfectly. You really feel they have this repartee down to an art. Terrence Howard plays Rhodey Stark’s friend in the military. While his part in this movie is not very big he plays it well. And then there is Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane. For some reason I can’t see Jeff Bridges as anything but The Dude from The Big Lebowski so that might be a personal problem but as Stark’s business rival he does an ok job. He just doesn’t play a good villain to me.
For only having parts of the script done when they began shooting I have to say Jon Favreau did a good job keeping everything working. The movie was great fun. It did everything it was supposed to do. It introduced us to a new superhero while giving fans of the comic book little details that the rest of us wouldn’t get. I am not sure if it was pure luck or pure genius on Marvels part but whichever they managed a pretty impressive launch of their Cinematic Universe.