Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Iron Man

"Give me a scotch. I'm starving"

The first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe stars Robert Downey Jr as billionaire playboy/weapons developer Tony Stark. Stark is presenting his latest weapon to the Military in Afghanistan when his convey comes under attack. Stark is critically wounded in the attack and while imprisoned by terrorists, fellow prisoner Yinsen (Shaun Toub) fits an electromagnet into his chest in order to keep shrapnel out of his heart. Ordered to build a sophisticated missile by their captors, instead the prisoners go about building an Iron suit which Stark uses to escape. Excited by the new technology Stark begins to develop the suit further but other parties are also interested in the idea.

Tony Stark is a character that Robert Downey Jr was born to play. After several years on the edges of Hollywood the role put him back front and centre and rejuvenated his flailing career. Stark and Downey have very similar traits and it feels as though Downey is enjoying the role. Paul Bettany is well cast as the voice of JARVIS, Stark’s computer. He comes across as robotic but with just a hint of humanity and emotion. Gwyneth Paltrow is also well cast as Stark’s assistant Pepper Potts. She is sexy enough when she needs to be but you can understand to some extent why Stark hasn’t noticed her in that way. Their relationship is also very fun to watch and somewhat like a toddler and mother. It’s entertaining to watch her attempt to keep Stark in line and out of trouble.

The story is obviously focused around the origins of Iron Man and as a result there is less of Iron Man than even in the recent Avengers film. Stark is such a strong character though that this isn’t a problem. Iron Man’s HUD looks spectacular and is a clever way of allowing the star actor to be visible when obscured by the mask. Stark’s technology is also great although it’s even cooler in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. The CGI on the whole is very good but has noticeably improved in the four years since the films release. The plot is fairly formulaic and obvious. There are no real surprises but its fine. I think this is also the least geeky or comic book-esque of the recent Marvel films which was important for attracting a large audience to a new character. The film made $585m compared with Zach Snyder’s more fan boy Watchmen that made $185m a year later.  

I do have a couple of problems with the film. The first is that when Iron Man aides an Afghan village which is under attack from terrorists, the US Military decide to shoot him out of the sky despite being on their side and them having no idea whom or what he is. While the US is known to enjoy the odd bit of military engagement, this still seemed odd. Another problem was the product placement. For some reason I bought a Whopper and an Audi on the way home. I really hate product placement but it’s in most blockbusters so it’s picky of me to have a go at Iron Man.

Overall this is a solid and enjoyable film with a very good Robert Downey Jr performance. It creates more than enough interest in the character and the universe to warrant the several sequels.



  1. Oooh Paul Bettany? I hadn't noticed that. I thought he was great in Master and Commander, and A Knight's Tale.

    Another film Robert Downey Jr is perfect in is Natural Born Killers. Also has Woody Harrelson playing a big tough psychopath with (slightly) hidden depth... as usual? Good film.

    1. I like Bettany. We see a lot of his films as Katie 'likes him' too. I haven't see Natural Born Killers but love Woody 'Cooler than Sam Jackson in a Fridge' Harrelson. I've added it to my LoveFilm list. Thanks for the headsup!