Well, Iron Man has gone to a fast lead in the Summer Superhero Sweepstakes. Due largely to inspired casting and a snappy script. (And it being the only one out of the gate so far helps too.) Robert Downey Jr. pretty much plays his standard character, but it works. His Tony Stark is cynical, funny, and obviously has something going on upstairs. Downey adds layers to what was a rather two-dimensional character even for comic books. Gweneth Paltrow is spunky and competent as Pepper Pots (they even kept the trademark Stan Lee alliterative name). The only sour note is Jeff Bridges rather lackluster performance. Not that he was bad, he just didn’t bring anything new to a rather cliched role.
The script was full of holes but saved itself with a number of pleasing one liners. Most of the origin remained intact and the changes were better for the story than the “Tony builds an artificial heart that looks like an iron lung and decides to go ahead and turn it into a robot suit”. And it’s just as well, Iron Man has been upgraded more than any other Marvel superhero already. He started out as a guy in a flexible metal suit with repulsor rays and has grown into full exoskeletal glory. A good start to a possible franchise for Marvel. And I say keep Farveau at the helm. He isn’t a strong action director but that actually worked in the movie’s favor. And every time Iron Man is on screen somebody at ILM is doing the directing anyway.
(Also, the Stan Lee cameo is even better than his turn as Willie Lumpkin, and pay attention to the music being played at the awards benefit- its a recurring theme and hauntingly familiar.)
The trailers before the movie reminded me that summertime means superheroes nowadays. The biggest reaction was for The Dark Knight trailer, but Hellboy and Speed Racer (apparently a new two hour screening test for epilepsy) also got love from the crowd. My money’s on the Bat because Nolan got so much right the last time. But I’m looking forward to several hours at the local Cineplex this summer in spite of the fact that the picture, seats, and concessions are better in my home theater; and that I can buy any of these movies on Blu-Ray by Christmas for less than the cost of a couple of tickets and some popcorn.
(And for grown-ups that still think summertime is for frivolous entertainment but get chaffing from rubber suits, David Mamet's REDBELT looks promising. So I think I'll also find out if Mamet can turn Tim Allen into Bruce Willis some day before I go to lunch, go to lunch, just go...to...lunch.)