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Review: Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man (2008)

Directed by: Jon Favreau

Premise: An adaptation of the Marvel comic book character. A wealthy industrialist who has made his fortune off of weapons sales has a change of heart after surviving a terrorist attack and witnessing the fruits of his labor. He builds an armored suit and begins to use his technology to fight evil.

What Works: Iron Man includes themes and story elements seen in other films such as the origin mythos of Batman Begins, the satire of Robocop, and the political perspective of Lord of War. The combination works and the elements coalesce together nicely. The success of many superhero films largely depends on the casting of the hero, and Iron Man scores a home run with Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Downey makes the character a fast-talking, womanizing, egomaniac and the screenplay gives him a credible character arc as Stark develops a sense of responsibility. One of the fatal flaws of many comic book adaptations is their tendency to take themselves far too seriously but Iron Man avoids this by adding a lot of humor, largely through Robert Downey Jr. The film’s sense of fun differentiates it from other comic book films, as does its sense of relevance. Iron Man’s inclusion of contemporary issues like terrorism and war profiteering make it much more interesting and gives it some depth and a little bite, much more so than the average comic book adaptation.

What Doesn’t: The biggest flaw of Iron Man is its villain, played by Jeff Bridges. The actor does a good job with what the script gives him to work with, but the writing is flat and the final conflict between the villain and the hero looks more like an outtake from last year’s Transformers and is inconsistent with the more interesting and socially relevant action scenes earlier in the film.

Bottom Line: Iron Man ranks with Batman Begins, The Crow, and Superman: The Movie among the upper tier of comic book films. The humor saves the movie from some of its sillier moments and Robert Downey Jr. creates one of the most unique and enjoyable superheroes on film.

Episode:  #188 (May 4, 2008)