Movie: "Iron Man"
Genre: Action / Adventure
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Writing credits: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Stan Lee, others
Plot: Billionaire industrialist and genius Tony Stark is captured by terrorists and builds a suit of super-powered armor to escape. He eventually decides to use his technological weapon to fight the forces of evil.
Review: If I were teaching a class on how to make comic book movies, Iron Man would be my near-perfect example of how to do it correctly. I have to admit, when I first heard about this movie coming down the pipeline, I wasn't particularly interested. Marvel has recently turned the character into an insufferable prick in the comics, so I wasn't exactly thrilled to see his adventures portrayed on the big screen. That was until I heard that they'd cast Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. Upon hearing that, my interest was sparked, and after seeing the first trailer, I knew this would be a movie worth watching.
And after seeing the movie, I can honestly say that I don't think there has been a comic book character more perfectly cast than Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. He just dethroned Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and even Christopher Reeve. I'm not necessarily saying his performance was better (though it was damn good); I'm just saying that he fits the character so utterly and completely it's almost easy to forget that he's not actually Tony Stark while watching the movie.
That is, until you come to any of the dozen various moments in the movie where his character absolutely should have died. This is easily accepted, however--it's a comic book movie, after all, and Favreau skillfully dances on the line between realism and feats of comic book heroic impossibility, crossing back and forth often, but the end result is so insanely enjoyable that the audience can't help but forgive him. Favreau is a man who clearly studied the source material, and who just as clearly knows his audience. Updating the origin story of Stark isn't a problem, as remaining too devoted to the source material would have made this a period piece, which is certainly not going to happen since Marvel is now aiming to create a "shared universe" with all their movies. The different details (Vietnam vs. Afghanistan) hardly matter, as all the important elements to the character are there.
Unlike some disappointing character redesigns that have occurred in the transition from page to big screen with some other movies, Iron Man's armor is lifted directly from the comic book. In fact, they give homage to several different versions of Stark's suit throughout the film. They even give a little nod to War Machine, who they've perfectly set up to be in the next film.
The film has a wonderful sense of humor as well. Favreau is smart enough to know when to inject some laughs without overdoing it to the point of obnoxiousness. The film seems to be all about striking perfect balances: giving us a detailed and compelling origin without making us wait over half the movie before seeing our hero in action, showing us a good amount of our hero's personal life as well as heroic life, giving us plenty of action without resorting to a series of senseless explosions, and so on.
This is the most fun I've had at a movie in a while, and it easily shot up the ranks into my Top Five Favorite comic book films of all time. Oh, and I'm sure most of you have heard this by now, but stick around after the credits. Those of you familiar with the Ultimate Marvel universe are in for an awesome treat.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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