They say the best weapon is the one you never have to fire. I prefer the weapon you only need to fire once. That's how Dad did it; that's how America does it, and it's worked out pretty well so far.
Finally, a new Marvel
superhero gets a movie franchise. Woohoo; hold on to your hats, it's Tony Stark
's turn in the spotlight - and he's bringing his hot-rod red metalflake with him when he comes.
The movie of Iron Man, released May 2, 2008 in the U.S. market, is an early jump on the summer blockbuster, possibly in an attempt to stake out what looks to be a crowded field. With upcoming releases including a mega-franchise revival, another superhero returning strong, a complete do-over of yet another Marvel property, even more franchise resuscitations, and returns of once-popular television properties it's best to get an early go on. So they did. The real question is, how did they do?
Well. On the one hand, I don't want to give spoilers. On the other, it's sort of hard to do so when the trailers have offered up so much material. I'll start with the general and move to the specific; if you think I'm getting too close to things you don't want to read, skip ahead.
I was a reader of Iron Man in his original comic incarnation, although not a regular one. I enjoyed Iron Man for the particularly American superhero sensibility. As the poster says: "Superheroes aren't born - they're made." That's good ol' U.S. know-how at work there, son. Tony Stark, Iron Man's original ego, isn't a dark and tortured man lost in his past. He's not a son of alien skies. He's not a casualty of science gone MAD! No; he's an engineer. An inventor. A rich one. He builds, as he puts it, 'things that blow up,' and makes a good living selling those weapons to the military - until one day, when he finds himself on the other ends of those toys, fighting for his life.
So much for the story. The rest is frankly unimportant. This movie isn't about redemption or about closure or about revenge - no, let's be clear. It's about toys. Tony Stark, played with verve by Robert Downey Jr., has all the best toys the world has ever seen. But guess what - he finds a new one. And this one has a purpose. Probably the best way to describe the movie is 'constructo-porn' - we watch a design system that any of the geeks or artists of us would give major organs to own used to build what has to be the biggest wish fulfillment ever.
Yeah. I can fly.
-Tony Stark, again
The movie delivers on the toy factor. Hoo boy, does it. If you've ever wanted to feel the thrill of the mad scientist when he flips the switch, or pulls on the helmet, or plain shouts "IGOR! THE LEVER!" then you're well taken care of, here. If you ever wanted to see how a completely self-obsessed fictional gazillionaire lives, well, you're all set. Frankly, I didn't think a private airplane's structure would handle a stripper pole, but hey - whatever your flight attendants can do to make your flight more enjoyable, I suppose.
There are the usual 'updatings.' The movie opens in Afghanistan, where our hero is captured by Al-Qaeda lookalikes, rather than the North Vietnamese (Or was it North Korean?) bunker he invents his way out of in the comics. Many of our favorite military toys are on proud display - F-22 Raptors, Global Hawk UAVs, etc. etc. In general, however, the storyline runs pretty closely to the original 'origin story' of Iron Man. So, points added.
The problem comes in with pacing. There are some dingers of fight scenes, and some of the early ones are viscerally satisfying. But there's not enough of them, and there's a point near the end, and you'll recognize it even if you don't agree with me, where the movie sort of...plateaus. It's almost as if they've spent so much budget on the special effects needed just to run Tony Stark's regular life, that they forgot to leave in enough for a really spectacular ending, and instead they sort of rehash some stuff with a hastily-thrown-together plotline. Oh, sure, it's a 'boss fight' - but the suspension of disbelief suddenly gets much much higher, for no good reason.
I liked this movie. Don't get me wrong. But the ending of it feels not like the end of a summer blockbuster, but the end of a middle movie of a trilogy, released in January. It just doesn't quite do it. There's a clever bit right at the end, I guess; some serious fan service - but again, it just makes this movie into a 'middle flick.' Stay after the credits to see what I mean.
Still. I'm not sorry at the $11.75 I paid to see it on a big screen. And damn, I want Jarvis' UI. Even when the best 'funny' moments are Stark talking to his 'bots, the movie was entertaining. It just wasn't what I'd call a 'blockbuster.' But they've already announced the sequel, so I suppose it made its nut.
In response to TheLady's take, below - Sounds like you were alienated quick, all right. The thing is that Tony Stark is a self-absorbed, misogynist alcoholic pre-Iron Man in the source material. He's supposed to be like that. So to be fair, it sounds like it was Iron Man the property that alienated you, not specifically Iron Man the movie.
Director: Jon Favreau
Running Time: 126 minutes