Entertainment » Movies

Iron Man

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Friday May 2, 2008
Robert Downey Jr. in "Iron Man"
Robert Downey Jr. in "Iron Man"  (Source:Paramount Pictures)

Like the metallic suit in which he flies, the title character of "Iron Man" seems to have been tailored specifically for Robert Downey Jr. After all, CEO billionaire Tony Stark likes fast cars, fast women, big weapons - and has lost his moral compass to life's excesses. Certainly not the archetypal hero described by Joseph Campbell; but it was probably an easy sell to Downey, whose multiple arrests for drug abuse and slow climb back to the top of his thespian game likely offered great fodder for character development. What may be unexpected for audiences is that, in a day when many Hollywood actors throw on a superhero suit for the paycheck, Downey sunk his teeth into the reformation of his character - and with $100 million or so in digital effects backing him up, "Iron Man" rocks.

Tony Stark (Downey) is the US' largest military contractor, building the world's largest weapons and cashing in on America's warmongering - and he manages, when his big guns do their worst damage, to willfully avert his gaze; the most elegant example of which occurs when he travels to the Middle East and demonstrates the destructive power of his latest innovation without once looking at it. When his convoy is attacked by insurgents, however, Stark's life is forever changed. Not only is his heart nearly shredded by shrapnel, but the insurgents demand at gunpoint that he build his next weapons for them. He escapes thanks to an armored suit he builds; and when he returns to America, he conscripts longtime assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and military friend Rhodey Rhodes (Terrence Howard) into expanding his experiment despite the opposition of his top business executive Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) - and becomes Iron Man.

"Transformers" fans will be slightly bothered by similarities in the effects of "Iron Man" - but the former movie never had the wit or charisma of Downey at its fore, and that proves to be this superhero's most endearing quality. Unlike most superhero movies of late, it's the man and not the suit that captures our interest, thanks to the down-to-earth portrayal of the titular character and some willful directing by John Favreau. Paltrow and Howard have less material to work with; for the most part their characters are caricatures. Nevertheless, Paltrow in particular manages to pull off a wry turn to her inventor's assistant role, offering up just enough sizzle to sell her relationship with Stark as alternatively stern and sexual.

The film's only real letdown is the speed of its conclusion, most likely a bow to the inevitability of sequels as the majority of the story is dedicated to the creation of the superhero himself. Whether he'll survive a summer movie season stocked to the roof with superdudes, much less the critical atmosphere of a sophomore installment, remains to be seen. But "Iron Man" is terrific summer fare, hip and massively entertaining - go see it.

Iron Man


Runtime :: 126 mins
Release Date :: May 02, 2008
Language :: English
Country :: United States

David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.

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