Iron Man

[Screenshot]This is one comic franchise I was neve much into, so one thing you’ll be spared is comparisons to the original property. I know that Iron Man is Tony Stark, heard of Stark Industries, had a major character-development arc involving alcoholism, and that his suit is actually an outgrowth of his pacemaker. All of that except the alcoholism is conspicuously present here, so as far as my ignorant viewpoint is concerned, we’ve checked off the “faithfulness” tag and never have to return to it.

A more useful question at this point is: how good is Iron Man, either as a satisfying film or as a representation of superheroes on the big screen? This film makes a pretty good argument that the two are mutually incompatible, because this is actually a pretty good film except for the faily incidental bits involving Iron Man doing actual superheroic things. I don’t know what it is about action movies these days, or maybe it’s just me these days, but I find the actual action scenes muddled rather than exciting, for the most part. The film as a whole stands up. Robert Downey, Jr. does an awfully good job in his role, managing to be simultaneously believably charismatic, unbelievably crass, and conscientious enough to be sympathetic. The person-to-person interactions work, and largely redeem the fairly silly and thin betrayal plot. The parts of the betrayal that fit into the whole business-and-morality theme (e.g. the continued arms supplies to known terrorists, and Stane’s resistence to shutting down large parts of the company) work well, and it’s perhaps because they work well that the whole Evil Iron Man Suit bit doesn’t actually work. There’s an unhappy non-connection between the concept of a corrupt executive obsessed with maintaning and growing the company, and a dude who actually builds and uses a supersuit (this has been a problem in many depictions of Lex Luthor, too). Unfortunately, that killed the character, and most of what was left of the movie, from my point of view.

But, still, it’s very good, and the superheroic framing works, even if the scenes of actual superheroicness don’t.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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