I had zero interest in seeing Iron Man. I’ve always been a DC guy, not Marvel. All I knew about Iron Man was that he was a drunk, and that his cartoon had the best theme song. So I’d be sitting in theaters with my peer group, seeing a trailer for the movie and watching everybody around me go absolutely nuts, where I just wasn’t feeling it. It’s a guy in a flying suit of armor, with a couple of Air Force jets. What’s the big deal?
The big deal is that we finally have a superhero movie made by people who really get superhero movies. Most of the other ones, even the best ones, act as if the audience is really into characters and action-movie plots, so it’s the burden of a superhero movie to convince the audience how cool the powers and fight scenes are. Iron Man just takes for granted that a guy in a flying suit of armor who shoots power beams out of his hands is inherently cool, so it puts the bulk of its effort into showing why the characters are cool.
Everything I’ve read mentions how Robert Downey, Jr. carries the movie, and he is really, really good. A character who’s really an unlikeable asshole, but somehow manages to win people over by being so charismatic, is not an easy character to play. But everybody in the cast did a good job, and you don’t want to underestimate the influence of the director and screenwriters, either.
It helps that Jon Favreau directed a great, effects-heavy romantic comedy, because Iron Man feels a little like a romantic comedy with some phenomenal action sequences. The characters are charming, and the dialogue feels authentic while still staying just on the edge of comic book camp. And the movie’s genuinely funny, not just through references or one-liners, but sequences where they really earn the punchline. (The suit testing sequence is hilarious).
It’s hard to find problems with it. You kind of wish Terrence Howard’s character did more — I don’t know what his role is in the comic book, but it feels like he’s supposed to be more important, somehow. But then again, it’s good that his character is involved in the major scenes, but his role remains fairly realistic. And you definitely wish the fight scenes were longer. But then again, they’re exactly as long as they need to be, they deliver on all the coolest moments, and they leave you wanting more.
So I guess the only real problem I have with the movie is that when Iron Man takes off, he holds his arms straight down to his sides and sticks his palms out, like a little girl doing a curtsey. And that’s not cool. Other than that, the movie’s flawless.
And speaking of being left wanting more: as I said, I’ve been out of the loop on the background stuff on the movie and all the fan speculation, so I don’t know what their franchise plans are. There is a scene after the credits end that seems to be important. I just hope they keep the scope manageable instead of letting the franchise get bloated, like they did with X-Men 3 and Spider-man 3. I know I’d be perfectly happy with an Iron Man 2, even if they just did more of the same.