Review: Iron Man

Resident geek of geeks, Joshua S. Hill, reviews Iron Man. However, if you don't want to click, just be happy in the knowledge it rocked!
IronMan_003I am not normally a moviegoer that sees a movie in a theatre packed full of people. I’m one of those ones that – of late – go by themselves during the day. However Friday night came and I harkened back to a time when me and my movie buddy Dave would see every big release the moment it came out.

Right away though, even before the movie started, we were reminded of just how big this year of movies was going to be. Trailers for Speed Racer, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had me gasping as my geekometer went off.

But the lights soon darkened, the curtains disappeared entirely, and the movie began (with that awesome Marvel Productions video).

Iron Man is getting rave reviews all over the joint, and currently holds a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, after 153 reviews counted. As for me, I would have to agree with their rating, putting the movie definitely in the low 90’s.


A brief summary of the movie sees us starting off in Afghanistan, where Tony is soon taken hostage after some humorous bantering with his military bodyguards. However before we get in to the kidnapping, we head back 36 hours to see Tony’s very playboy-like lifestyle in full swing, ending with him having a one night stand with Leslie Bibb’s character, Christine Everhart.

We soon cut back to Afghanistan, seeing Tony Stark’s demonstration of the Jericho, a missile system that Stark Industries has just finished building. After being kidnapped we find that he has been taken by a group calling themselves the Ten Rings (we’ll deal with that soon). They want him to build a Jericho missile for them, but instead provide him with enough parts to build himself the very first Iron Man suit.

Stark escapes, losing his prison cell buddy behind in a suitably heroic way, and heads home, to be welcomed by a teary Pepper Potts.

What follows next is the standard “locking himself away and building the first prototype” story that we expected, and is mixed in with Stark finding out that he is losing control of his company, after he announces that they won’t be selling weapons any more. IronMan_006

The movie finishes with a huge battle behind Iron Man, with the help of the ever present Pepper Potts, versus Iron Monger. I’ve been purposefully vague there, because I still think that most of you will want to go see it for yourselves, so I’m not going to ruin the best parts of the movie.

Insider Tidbits

Now as I sat there in the theatre, attempting to enjoy the movie while at the same time take in every small clue that I could witness, I started making notes on my phone. The first, and most obvious to anyone who has ever seen the director, is Jon Favreau’s shameless bit part. He plays Stark’s bodyguard, and even gets some talking lines. Now this isn’t the same as say, Peter Jackson popping up in front of the camera, because Favreau is actually a talented actor (anyone remember his stint on Friends?).

Next is the role of Jarvis who, for anyone with even a moment of Iron Man or Avengers experience, will know him as Stark’s butler. However in the movie, Jarvis is actually the AI of Stark’s home, known as ‘Just A Rather Very Intelligent System’, and voiced by the fabulous Paul Bettany. I was actually a little disappointed when we were introduced to JARVIS, rather than Jarvis, but I got over it soon. Even as a voice actor with no corporeal body, Bettany is hilarious!

IronMan_001I said I would get back to the Ten Rings in the film, and here I am. For those who don’t know, Iron Man’s greatest villain has always been the Mandarin, a scientific genius and holder of ten rings which grant him various powers. That Favreau alluded towards him with this small tidbit is not surprising, considering that – if I were to put money on it – the third movie will focus on the Mandarin.

As for what film number 2 is going to be, I think we got a hint of that when Jim Rhodes is introduced to Iron Man. He sees Tony fly off, and then turns to look around Stark’s lab, where he sees one of the early Mark 2 prototypes. He mutters something along the lines of “maybe next time” before he exits the lab. Once again, if you know your Iron Man, you’ll know that “Rhodey” dons a suit at times, calling himself War Machine, and sometimes fills in for Tony as Iron Man when Tony is… uh… otherwise indisposed (alcoholism, dead, etc).

The last little tidbit that I found was not entirely unexpected. As with a lot of adaptations, if there is ever a previous theme song existing, it will undoubtedly appear in the film. I had to check this to make sure, when I got home, but when Rhodey’s phone rings, naturally it is the Iron Man theme from the cartoon series.

The Man Behind the Mask

There were some that, surprisingly, seemed to think that Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t the perfect man to play Tony Stark. Putting aside the ironic history that both have with substance abuse, Downey Jr. looked more like Stark than most actors could ever have hoped. So I wasn’t surprised, only delighted, with just how well Downey Jr. played his part.

He was, in every measure, the Tony Stark that we used to love from the comics. The irrational need to do good after the horror he’d seen, the off the cuff remarks he makes as he’s already halfway to somewhere else, and the simple humor. My favorite is when Pepper enters to see Tony trying to remove his Iron Man suit, to which he replies after a moments silence; “Let's be honest, this isn't the worst thing you've caught me doing.”

IronMan_004Speaking of Pepper, Gwyneth Paltrow was truly magnificent as Pepper. She plays the part of attractive and efficient personal assistant to a reckless yet good hearted man perfectly. The interplay between her and Downy Jr. was just as it should be, witty, quick and lighthearted with a touch of underlying attraction between the two.

Leslie Bibb, whose career I have followed these past few years since I saw her on Popular, was brilliant as Christine Everhart, a name picked out of the long list of Daily Bugle reporters floatingIronMan_002 around the comic universe.

I’m going to skip past Rhodey and Obadiah, and point to two smaller roles which I loved. Tim Guinee and Clark Gregg didn’t have huge parts, but the actors who played them are two of my favorite bit-part actors. Guinee is probably now most famed for his role in Stargate, as Tomin. Clark Gregg has been in more TV shows and movies than you could throw a stick at. From the New Adventures of Old Christine, to West Wing, Cregg now portrays Agent Phil Coulson, from the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.

The continuing joke throughout the movie was that that name, was a mouthful, and it wasn’t until the very end (I admit, it took me far longer than it should have to figure this out) that I worked out it stood for S.H.I.E.L.D.

Shortest Ever Celebrity Cameo

That brings me to my last point, the cameo that we had all been waiting for, but just weren’t sure was actually going to happen. You have to wait until after the credits, so most people will have missed it by now, but you’ll get your kicks if you stay around. Samuel L. Jackson, has made his way inside Stark’s home, and announces that Stark is not the first superhero out there.

He wants him to join the Avengers Initiative.

It was so awesome to see the eye patch on one of our greatest actors, and I think it fits. Either way, it was the perfect way to cap off a fantastic movie, and one well worth the $16 I had to pay to get in (I really should have gone on cheap-assed-Tuesdays). Make sure you get to it, and stay tuned to Comic Book Movie for all news on sequels, earnings and box office records.
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