- Damien Francis
Directed: Jon Favreau
M: Action Violence
Back in 2008, a film called Iron Man was released. What started out as an origin story about a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist has now become the largest film franchise in the world, exceeding the second largest film franchise (Harry Potter) by at least $8.3 billion dollars. The movie stood out as a brilliant stand-alone film that took a B-list character and turned him into one of the most recognisable heroes of the modern age.
The film is a fantastic blast that rolls along full of action, quips and great characters. It’s a great origin film that still holds up as a solid movie so many years later. In the plethora of newer superhero films, it can be easy to forget this one, so long ago, but Iron Man is still lauded by many as one of the better additions to the behemoth of the MCU.
The story looks at a billionaire who discovers his weapons he thought he was making to protect Americans are also being used by America’s enemies to kill them in return. His transformation from self-centered billionaire to self-less superhero is goes down as one of the better origin stories as he uses his own genius intellect to create an armoured high-tech suit to fight against the militant threat of terrorism.
Robert Downey Jr brings his A game and truly steps into the role seamlessly. He doesn’t miss a beat and his charm, quips and attitude help make the film shine and stand out as something unique to the superhero genre.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges (playing Pepper Potts and Obadiah Stane respectively) are also brilliant, helping to anchor Tony and provide him with a very personal villain.
Unfortunately, Terrance Howard gets very little to do in the film and as this is his only performance his portrayal is largely dismissed for a later actor.
The villain of the film, Iron Monger, played by Jeff Bridges is a decent villain. He does play a larger, grey variant of the hero, with similar superpowers which is a disappointment. However, Jeff Bridges as the greedy and deceitful businessman is where his true villainy shines and for a first Iron Man film, they needed to keep it quite grounded to match the hero. It could have been better, but for an origin story, all the effort was put into making Iron Man.
The action is pretty impressive. The Iron Man suit does all the heavy lifting and instead of being a great hand-hand fighter, the action is instead based around an intricate suit full of weapons that come out the wazoo. There are a lot of explosions, but nothing feels like its too over the top. Whenever Iron Man does duke it out with his fists, you can almost feel the hits. The end fight scene between Iron Man and Iron Monger is fairly decent. But, where it shines is the use of Tony's intellect once more to defeat the villain and less reliance on his tech. The assistance by his assistant Pepper Potts is a clever way to suggest that Tony Stark/Iron Man cannot do things on his own.
Humour comes quick through this film, with Tony delivering some of the best lines. Nothing is a truly laugh-out-loud joke, but the humour is designed to help build his character and most of it will give a good chuckle, if you’re quick enough. Robert Downey sometimes delivers the lines at a breakneck pace that if you mutter something, you might miss it.
The cinematography and direction is quality with Jon Favreau essentially setting the tone of the film and the respective 11 years of MCU films. Even though each film tries to be its own thing, by keeping with similar tones and direction, the Marvel movies are able to feel like a cohesive whole.
The score of the film also has a really great Iron Man theme song which is one of my favourites in the MCU. Unfortunately the rest of the score is largely unforgettable.
Stacking up against the rest of the MCU, Iron Man comes out as one of the best origin stories and still a solid film, although there are now films in the same series that are even better again. Iron Man is one we can all enjoy time and again and it never feels dry or old.
In its post-credit’s scene, which has since become a staple of Marvel films, we are teased with perhaps one of the most important scenes in the entire MCU. A scene that drops hints about what is to come but doesn’t realise just how big or important it represents.
Its not the best superhero film, not even the best in the MCU, but it does deliver on its premise and is a thrilling journey.
Iron Man is something everyone will remember and the movie that took both Downey Jnr, Tony Stark to stardom and launched the largest film franchise in the world.
8 stars out of 10.