The Spider-Man films in recent years have been the epitome of summer blockbusters. The films always seemed to set and break box office records as they ruled the summers of 2002, 2004, and 2007. However, given the uncertainty of whether or not there will be any more Spider-Man films in the future, room has opened up for a new comic book film adaptation to rule the box office for multiple summers. Director Jon Favearau’s Iron Man seems to have its eyes on Spider-Man’s throne, and certainly makes a strong case for itself with thrilling action scenes and a refreshing sense of humor.
Usually superheroes are introverts; shy and nice guys who have a hard time getting the girl. However, when we first meet Tony Stark (Robert Downy Jr.), who later becomes Iron Man, he is traveling through the desert with a drink in hand making his military guards laugh. When Tony answers a question about how many Maxim girls he slept with last year we know that this soon to be hero doesn’t have any problems getting the girl, since he gets as many he wants. Tony is currently cruising through the desert because his company makes expensive and deadly weapons, many which are designed by Mr. Stark himself, and he has just finished demonstrating his latest masterpiece of war. However, Tony’s great life is put in serious danger when he is captured by what is assumed to be terrorists. Tony’s kidnappers demand he build them a particular type of weapon. Instead, Tony’s innovative mind has different ideas as he builds deadly robotic armor that allows for his escape. This capture opens Tony’s eyes to the death and pain his company has caused over the world, and he decides to become Iron Man to end the suffering he helped create.
The casting of Robert Downey Jr. as a superhero might seem odd to some, but this eyebrow-raising decision turns out to be vindicated, as Downey brings a great sense of humor and subsequent likeability, to the role Tony Stark. Downey’s swagger and wit might not be the right fit for some of the nerdy or more brooding heroes, like Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne, but it definitely works well with Tony Stark. Downey is even able to make Stark’s one of a kind goatee look cool. In fact, all of the casting decisions no matter how surprising turn out to be winners. Jeff ”the Dude” Bridges as the film’s scheming and evil villain, Obadiah Stane? Yes, Jeff Bridges is playing a comic book villain, and it turns out he is very effective. Who knew all it took to make Jeff Bridges evil was a beard and a shaved head? Actually, it is not his appearance, although Im sure that helps, it really is his acting, as Mr. Bridges can deliver his lines in just the right way to make your skin crawl. Downey and Bridges performances work so well because it is apparent the actors enjoy playing these exciting characters, which is something that was missing from the last Spider-Man film.
It wasn’t only the casting of Iron Man that made fanboys everywhere nervous. The appointing of Jon Favreau as director was perhaps the most wearisome thing about this Iron Man film for many people. This nervousness is understandable given the fact that Mr. Favreau has not attempted anything near the grandness of Iron Man before: his previous directing credits include the adult comedy Made, and the children’s comedy Elf. However, Favreau proves those doubters wrong as he shows to have a knack for action. Tony’s first and somewhat lengthy battle in his revamped suit, including his escape from the Air Force, proves that Favreau can certainly stage and sustain impressive sequences. Favreau even creates some solid tension with a scene between Obidah Stane and Stark’s loyal assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyenth Paltrow). Also, Im sure Favreau’s comedic background is a large part of the reason why Iron Man is such a surprisingly funny film, as this comic book adaptation is much funnier than the comedy, Superhero Movie, which spoofs some of the best comic book films.
Since this is the first, but I’m sure not the last film in the Iron Man series, this installment does have a lot of story to cover in the film’s running time. However, Iron Man’s humor and performances, most notably Robert Downey Jr.s, keeps the audience from losing interest between the film’s more action orientated scenes.
Ladies and Gentleman, I’m pleased to inform you that the 2008 summer movie season is offically underway with the May 2nd release of the greatly entertaining Iron Man, and Spider-Man, you better watch your back.