Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrance Howard
Directed by: Jon Favreau (“Elf”)
Written by: Mark Fergus (“Children of Men”), Hawk Ostby (“Children of Men”), Art Marcum (“Shadow of Fear”), Matt Holloway (debut)
Flamboyancy goes a long way when it comes to superhero attractiveness, and in “Iron Man,” actor Robert Downey Jr. delivers the character’s unique mythology with enough exuberance you almost forget about letdowns like “Spider-Man 3.” It seems like someone has finally found his niche in the mainstream.
In Marvel’s “Iron Man,” based on the comic book by Stan Lee and crew, Downey Jr. plays billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark. Call him a genius. Call him a lady’s man. Call him a war profiteer. If Tony is anything, it’s confident in his ability to provide the U.S. military with the most sophisticated weaponry ever created by man or machine.
Completely satisfied with his self-indulgent life of fast cars, loose women, and high-powered technology, Tony’s attitude toward his profession changes drastically when his convoy is attacked and he is kidnapped by insurgents in the Middle East. He is there to demonstrate to the U.S. Air Force the destructive power of his latest missile, the Jericho.
The tables are turned when Tony, while imprisoned in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan, is forced to build a Jericho missile for the enemy by using other Stark Industry weapons the insurgents have somehow gotten their hands on.
Believing they will most likely kill him whether or not he complies with their request, Tony, who has been injured and must now wear a magnetic device on his chest to keep the shrapnel from entering his heart, decides to instead use the scrap metal provided for him to build a full-body armor, which can be controlled from within like a robot.
Thus, the prototypical Iron Man is born and later enhanced once Tony gets back home and begins working on a model as sleek as his personality. There to keep all his day-to-day responsibilities in check is Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), a loyal assistant who will most likely become a more integral part in Tony’s life in a future sequel.
Yes, sequels are in this franchise’s future, which means, unlike one-hit flicks like “Daredevil,” there’s actually some gusto behind the directorial style of Jon Favreau and a solid start for “Children of Men” screenwriters Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby and their team of comic book adaptors.
Despite some hollow characters played by Paltrow, Terrance Howard, and Jeff Bridges (Iron Monger just isn’t that interesting), it’s Downey Jr. who takes control of this entire prelude from start to finish. The others, however, are just making their debuts (Howard gives us a clue that he could be donning his own metallic suit in a future film), so it will be fascinating to see where the story can take us from here.
Don’t call Favreau Christopher Nolan just yet. Place him somewhere around the vicinity of Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man”) and thank whoever needs to be thanked for casting Downey Jr. and passing on names like Nicholas Cage and Ashton Kutcher.