Iron Man was the first Marvel comic book character to receive the blockbuster treatment in the current ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ film phase. Obviously there have been loads of superhero films featuring Marvel characters like the Hulk, but apparently there is now a specific three phase programme for Marvel comic films, and it all kicked off with a big, Iron Man bang.
Iron Man is created by the character Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), and is used as a defence mechanism for the safety of the United States of America. Tony Stark, the inheritor of his father’s company Stark Enterprises, originally manufactured weapons which were meant to be used to protect America, but he is kidnapped in Afghanistan while demonstrating his new Jericho missile and discovers that the terrorist group holding him have access to a wide variety of weapons produced by his company. The terrorists want him to create a Jericho missile, Tony pretends to comply and instead builds himself a metal suit, the Iron Man Mark 1, which he uses to escape and defeat the terrorists. Once he returns home he tries to halt the production of weapons at his company, saying he wants to help bring peace to America, but this is an unpopular decision with the other members of the company board, who appear to have sold Stark weapons to the terrorists they’re meant to be protecting America from. Cue lots of explosions and metal-clad fight sequences.
Iron Man is definitely a film that brings me joy. I like films with high energy action sequences and explosions and biceps, and it’s got a fantastic soundtrack to boot. Plus I’m pretty sure there was a sneaky mention of my old pal Alexander the Great in there somewhere, so that’s another double thumbs up from me. In a way, I like to think of Iron Man as like James Bond, but badass. There’s so many snazzy gadgets and fun pieces of technology that are kind of 007-esque in a way, although they definitely trump the old exploding fountain pen trick. I am a big fan of the Iron Man suit (it’s just so shiny and red!) and all the nifty things it can do, although I would worry that I’d get a bit carried away just pointing at something excitedly, and accidentally blowing it up. This is probably why I’d never be trusted to wear one (if they ever existed, of course), plus they look rather claustrophobic and, I would imagine, rather sweaty. The one thing I’ve never really bought is the ability to set things on fire and stride through flames in the suit without any adverse consequences though. Last time I checked, metal things get pretty damn hot when you leave them in fire, and I don’t understand how he could walk through explosions and burning buildings in the original prototype suit, made in a cave with (I’m assuming) limited, non heat-protected material, and not get a bit burnt. I’m sure there’s probably some dullsville explanation behind this that I just didn’t pick up in the film (I was probably distracted by Robert Downey Jr’s biceps), but I like to think (being the most technologically-confused person) that I’ve discovered a flaw in its engineering, just so I can feel a little smug for a while. But besides that slight oversight, which is definitely on the filmmaker’s side and not mine, I’m sure, I did rather enjoy the many suit building/testing montages that were dotted throughout. The suit flight-testing sequence is a particular highlight for me, if only for the sweetly over-enthusiastic robot, Dummy. I think I’d quite like a Dummy in my own home, although I fear he may get a little confused over things like sorting the laundry loads into colours and delicates and the like, and I wouldn’t really have any other use for him except as a form of robotic company, and that’s getting a bit too desperate, even for me.
Aside from the pleasing bicep shots, I thought Robert Downey Jr was really well suited to his role. He’d never cropped up on my radar before (despite his rather public crash and burn), and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in anything except Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes, but he seems like the perfect choice for Tony Stark. He’s just the right level of snarky and arrogant, while still being funny. I like the fact that Tony is, frankly, a bit of an arsehole but, as an audience, we generally like him because he’s an arsehole. I think it’s the fact that he’s rude and smug and bigheaded that he’s a popular character, because a lot of us would quite like to get away with being rude and smug and bigheaded but we’re too restrained by good manners and feelings of guilt, so we grit our teeth and have a private grumble instead. We admire people who don’t give a damn because we’re too busy giving a damn to not give a damn, no matter how much we want to. But waffle aside, I think he was the perfect casting choice for Iron Man, and thank god we got him because rumour has it that Nicholas Cage originally asked for the role back in the 1990s. Good grief, is all I can say to that.
Despite everything I’ve said so far though (and this is how sad I am), I do think it’s worth watching the entire 126 minutes of the film for the very last scene, where Tony Stark is meant to be reeling out his cover story and instead says “I am Iron Man”, just where Ozzy Osbourne says it in the song, and then the credits kick off with Tony Iommi and that fabulous Iron Man riff. If anything, that’s the part of the film that brings me the most joy, and that made me want to watch AC/DC heavy Iron Man 2.
See previous Film Review, featuring Nine.