By Doug Cion
Is it just me or did the summer season for movies come up way too fast? It is that time once again, boys and girls. Time to watch all that hard-earned money be splurged at the box office for an average ten dollars per movie ticket. What better way to kick off this new summer season than with one of the finest superhero films ever made. Yes, I did say that, but if you noticed I did not say that it is the best. Remember kids, X-Men II and Spiderman I and II? But Jon Favreau’s Iron Man now reigns supreme in the elite of comic book films. Not to mention its explosive box office grossing for its opening weekend. Take that Matrix Reloaded and all you stupid Harry Potter sequels. Making over 100 million domestically and 201 million worldwide, Iron Man is now has the tenth highest grossing opening weekend ever.
Aside from the excellent subject matter, the film itself was overall very well done. It was the perfect and necessary length to properly produce the story. Lasting about two hours and eighteen minutes (including the extra scene at the end), the narrative had terrific flow. Iron Man actually followed a similar sequence the first Spiderman film had done, and it was a recipe for success in both of them. In Spiderman, Peter Parker gets bitten by the spider quite early in the film and then the audience witnesses the coming to being of the character known as Spiderman, but you do not see him until about an hour into the film. Like in Spiderman, you do not see the completed Iron Man character until the middle of the film. Granted, the building up to this introduction is the story of the origin but this is a positive thing because it does not rush it. This allows the audience to build anticipation, which causes their hair to stand up when they got their first glimpse of Iron Man in action (at least that is what happened to me). Some may argue or complain that it took too long, but there is not one dull moment in the first hour. Even though there was not a great deal of action in the opening scene of the film, there is significant plot development and appealing story line to keep the audience in tune with the film. The action then picks up a little before the half way point of the film, which carries the film all the way to its climax, which is one of the best fight scenes I have seen in a comic book film in a long time (once again, not the best). A side note on the action in the film, I was so pleased to see the successful use of CGI in the film. Iron Man’s suit, for lack of a better term, looked awesome, and not once did it look too digitally created. The action scenes were similar. There was not one time where I was taken out of the narrative flow due too poor computer animation. For that, I am very glad not to have missed any part of this film. It truly was a night at the theater for me with Iron Man.
It should be illegal to write a review for this film and not mention the genius of Robert Downey Jr. I feel, like many others, that Downey Jr.’s portrayal of the character known as Tony Stark is the best (now I said it) display of a comic book character in any film. He had it down perfectly, from the snarky one liners of a confident and egotistic billionaire playboy to the actual facial features, like the goatee and the body structure. Also, having graduated at MIT by age seventeen (Stark… not Downey Jr.), there was a definite need to embody Stark’s brilliance, which was also a success. It also helps that Tony Stark is an abuser of alcohol and will later on become a self-destructive alcoholic, which was not too hard for Downey Jr. to act out. Iron Man was also backed by a stunning role of supporting actors. Besides the X-Men films, this one has the best cast in all of the comic book movies. First, I would like to state that Jeff Bridges is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. His reflection of the Iron Monger, known as Obadiah Stane really created good chemistry between him and our hero. The first half of the film in which these two gentlemen were business partners and long time friends really built up a strong emotional effect on the second half in which it is uncovered that he has betrayed Stark. Bridges made a great ally but he made an even better villain. Speaking of allies, Terrance Howard as Air Force Colonel Jim Rhodes and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Pots were distinctive and well portrayed characters from the beginning to the end of the film. I cannot argue that fact that Robert Downey Jr. is in his own league amongst stars, but these three supporting actors really contributed to the overall plot of the film.
Saving the best for last, the film was a perfect commencement for Marvel Studios. This was the first Marvel Entertainment film that was independently produced by their own studios with no affiliation to any outside production companies. I said in an earlier article that they really needed to knock this one out of the park and they did that ten times over. Granted, storylines where changed from the original Iron Man comics, but one can understand why. Most of the comic book superheroes the common population knows were basically created during troubled times in the past. All being created in literature, their purpose was to first combat Nazis and communists. In a world where terrorism is a daily existing idea, many are able to relate better to this. So, by Tony Stark being captured in Afghanistan by a group representing the Taliban, today’s audience is more likely to relate.
However, the story lines of past Marvel films will also come into play in the future. Another reason why I am happy for the success of Marvel Studios is because they are set for the next four years in film production. Iron Man did a very good job in presenting little teasers throughout the film that will be useful in creating the next couple of films. With the introduction of Agent Coulson and the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D. (those who know the Marvel Universe, this is more useful for you) on top of the extra scene at the end of the film that introduced Sam Jackson as a very necessary yet insanely sweet character whose major influence in the Marvel Universe will be very effective in taking Marvel through a longer and vastly successful course. The Incredible Hulk will smash into theaters this summer and then will come the two X-Men origin films telling the story of Wolverine and Magneto. One more reason I am so very happy with the independent production of Marvel Studios is that they are free to do as they please, which means…crossover stories! Certain events and character introductions in Iron Man will allow (they are all ready contracted to be made) an Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and Avengers movies. All these will be out within the next three years (Iron Man II will be out April 30, 2010). The bad guys in Iron Man were referred to as The 10 Rings, and they will be around for a long time (For at least three more movies). I was excited for this Iron Man and I was not let down. I am excited for the future Marvel has in store and I again I do not plan on getting let down.