That was the word that leapt to mind after I saw “Iron Man” late Sunday night. Judging by the 100+ million dollar opening weekend, I wasn’t the only one.
The first Marvel produced movie is a home run.
Starting with a deft origin update and moving quickly into the creation of the hero this one doesn’t slow down until the final showdown with Iron Monger.
The credit lies first and foremost with Robert Downey, Jr. He had to fight for this role and I’m glad he did. He captures the essence of Tony Stark. I’m sure Downey’s own much publicized past shadows some of his Stark, but he’s perfect in the role. He shows a sense of humor not normally associated with the arms manufacturer, but is equally adept at giving us the “millionaire playboy.” Watching him swing a hammer like a modern day Hephaestus as he creates his first suit of armor in a cave really captures the essence of the character.
And speaking of capturing the essence of the character, the film gives us everything we need to know about Stark’s background in a “bio” piece inside the movie that runs no more than 2 minutes. If they can do this with a second tier character can we please do this from now on with the bigger household names. No more 45 minute intros.
The other thing that made this enjoyable for me was the sheer joy Stark seems to take in his newfound role as hero. No brooding. No angst. Just strap on the armor and take out some bad guys. It’s about time we got a superhero movie like that.
The tension between Stark and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts was a refreshing change. It had a 40s feel to it and I enjoyed it.
Terence Howard seemed a bit under-used as Rhodey, but we all know he’ll be coming back as War Machine sooner or later.
And then there’s Jeff Bridges. He doesn’t play the bad guy very often, but that may change after this movie. As Obadiah Stane, he’s a ruthless business man and self professed “iron monger.” His brutal disregard for human life is something to behold. Yes, the Dude connives.
Kudos to Jon Favreau for keeping the movie moving along and staying true to the source material.
The deft addition of SHIELD to the Marvel movie cannon was fun, as was the oblique reference to the Mandarin. And, in case you haven’t heard, stay through the credits for a little something extra that had this long time fanboy talking back to the screen.
As expected, “Iron Man” kicks the summer 2008 movie season off with a big old repulsor bang. The sequel has already been fast tracked and the golden age of the fanboy is upon us.
Whether you’re a comic book fan or not, go see this movie. It’s a fun ride and you won’t be sorry.