Iron Man, released in 2008 and directed by Jon Favreau (also starring as Happy, Tony Stark’s driver) is the first film released by Marvel Studios and kicks off a (currently) six film-long Avengers geek fest with the promise of further films to come. The best thing about this string of films is that they’re all intertwined, and although the actors can change, and the appearances of the characters, there’s only one objective: be as awesome as possible.
Iron Man is the sexiest superhero film I’ve ever seen. Not only is Robert Downey Jr the perfect man to take the mantle of genius billionaire playboy philanthropist in the hot-rod red-and-gold mechanised suit, Tony Stark, but the film is brilliantly directed in the smooth and capable hands of Favreau, and the cinematography is simply a work of art. Any of the frames of this film could be hung on a wall and passed off as artwork. I am not kidding – it is that good looking.
Aside from being gorgeous, the film is your regular origins story. Tony Stark, inheritor of his father’s mega successful weapons manufacturing business, gets kidnapped in the Middle East and forced to make weapons. During the process he is blown up and must wear an ‘arc reactor’, a small but powerful electro-magnet (or something – I haven’t read the comics and I’m not claiming nerd status with this film, so I might be wrong) in his chest to prevent shrapnel from entering his heart. Instead of making weapons, Tony creates a suit to help him escape. He witnesses his own weapons in the hands of the US’ enemies, and vows to change the way his company contributes to the world. He works on perfecting his suit, but his technology is in high demand, and he must deal with those consequences, and with the consequences of his character growth: realising that making weapons is prolonging the war, not ending it.
Iron Man isn’t supposed to be likeable. He’s meant to be downright unlikeable. I believe the brief was to write a character that everyone should hate but everyone loves. He’s arrogant, single-minded, and offensive in an accidental way. He’s the verbal version of being a klutz. Luckily, he’s also a genius, a smooth talker, and very charismatic. His DC counterpart, Batman (rich, playboy, genius, philanthropist superhero) carries his darkness with him like a shroud: Iron Man is almost jolly in his attitude. It’s the most enjoyable aspect of the film.
The cast does a superb job in this film. Iron Man is the more gritty and believable of the older Marvel films (from the naughties), and although this has a lot to do with the direction it also has to do with the believable delivery from the cast. It’s a testosterone-heavy film, but still enjoyable for the ladies. Mostly, I think, this has to do with the way everyone cheered when Robert Downey Jr, ex drug-addict, was cast as Tony Stark. It just seemed to fit, a substance abuser playing a single-minded genius (his popularity surged in the Sherlock Homes films as well). Overall, I think Downey Jr and Iron Man have been very good for each other, and it was a great film to launch the Avengers sequence.