I’ll be honest, expectations were low.
In footballing terms, Iron Man is the superhero equivalent of an amateur Division Four team made up mostly of plumbers and brickies, whose occasional bouts of violence prove entertaining but whose skill with the actual game leaves a lot to be desired. I remember the cartoon. It was rubbish. But still, I bit the bullet and took my seat, partly because it was free, mostly because it’s the first superhero movie of the summer, and I need something to tide me over till The Dark Knight arrives.
The action kicks off with a torn-from-the-headlines pastiche of the middle eastern conflict, a pleasantly shallow but explosive opening. Then the escalating conflicts (spoilers!) – First up: Iron Man versus terrorism! I don’t want to spoil anything here but Iron man doesn’t not win. Then it’s Iron Man versus American Fighter Jets in the standout action sequence of the film. Third up it’s Iron Man’s greatest weakness: Slightly Larger Iron Man! Who will win? I don’t really need to say do I, but suffice to say that the CG is well executed and the explosions are big and flowery. What more do you want? An engaging plot full of thrills and spills, twists and turns, you say? Hmmm, You may be a little let down in that department…
More spoilers coming up, except they’re not spoilers at all because anybody with half a mind will see the twist coming from a mile off. Let’s just say, some friends become enemies, and here’s a clue – it’s the one that looks really evil. It’s the peadophile beard that gives it away, as well as the obvious evilness that oozes from his fat grinning face in every scene. I mean look, he’s SMOKING A CIGAR, people, and he’s even CACKLING.
I always expected the story to be thin, but my main worry was the central character behind the iron mask. Tony Stark by all rights deserves to be hated, he begs to be hated, your hatred sustains him. He’s incredibly rich, he’s a smartarse and he sleeps with more women than you. His partner for the early sections of the film declares “You are a man who has everything, but at the same time nothing,” which turns out to be exactly half true, as evidenced by Stark’s gigantic state of the art mountain top villa from the future with a basement full of robots that perform his every bidding, not to mention his beautiful assistant (Miss Pepper Potts – the full extent of that joke remains unclear to me, some sort of euphemism perhaps?) and his garage full of sports cars, legions of adoring fans etc etc. The remarkable thing is that you don’t hate him, because Robert Downey Junior defies the odds and turns everything around by sheer weight of charisma. He’s funny and likeable even before he has his moral epiphany. The man carries the film on his shoulders and drags it from being completely forgettable to being a pretty damn entertaining piece of cinema.
So it gets the thumbs up for being the first superhero movie of the summer, and not being half bad. See it for Robert Downey Junior, failing that, see it because RDJ alledgedly reprises his role in the upcoming Increcible Hulk movie. Iron Man versus Ed Norton, who won’t not win this time? I await the answer with baited breath.