The envy of the DCEU. So before Marvel was this giant connected universe, it was just Iron Man. This is the story of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). He is a billionaire engineer playboy who owns a weapons company. Trouble is that he gets kidnapped by terrorists because of who he is, and his only recourse is to build a weaponized armored suit to make his escape, as his abductors are armed to the teeth. With the Marvel universe doing nothing but growing, there was a part of me for a while that has wanted to go back to rewatch and review every film that they have released thus far that have been connected. I haven’t started seriously tackling the year of 2017 just yet, so there is no better time than now. The original Iron Man has aged very well, and it is a film that is strong enough to have the entire foundation of an empire built squarely upon its shoulders.
And who better than the charismatic RDJ to be the face of an entire kingdom?
So much about what makes this movie is the collaboration of Robert Downey Jr. and director Jon Favreau. I’ve been a big fan of RDJ ever since the genius script penned by Shane Black hit the big screen in 2005, the perfect vehicle for him that is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. One thing you have to understand if you’re going to work with him is that you always have to be rolling your camera. He will just do or say something impromptu and off-script, and it will be perfect for the character that he is playing. It is safe to say that he is (and will likely forever be) the definitive Tony Stark. I also think that Favreau doesn’t get nearly enough credit as being a quality director. He understands what makes this character tick, and how you need to make it so that you want to be him, even though he treats everyone around him like bit players in a story where he is the star.
I do have a small critique, though…
There is one item that I have to touch upon, and it has to do with the weakest element of the Marvel universe: the villains aren’t anything noteworthy. As soon as Jeff Bridges appears as a bald, cigar-chomping businessman, you know exactly where it is going, and while he does serve his purpose, apart from Loki, none of the Marvel villains really give you anything to write home about. This movie was the spark of inspiration that started it all, and you could tell that they knew what they were doing from the beginning, and the moving parts are only evident after the fact. It was relevant in the year that it was released with the war on terror being such a hot button topic, and because Tony Stark goes through so much trauma at the beginning, it makes you care about his character arc. RDJ shares a great chemistry with Gwyneth Paltrow, which just gives you all the more reason to be on board. RDJ makes it cool, and this is still one of the better movies in this universe, even after nearly a decade.
Iron Man (2008) ****
– Critic for Hire