Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Mark Fergus (screenplay), Hawk Ostby (screenplay), Art Marcum (screenplay), Matt Holloway (screenplay)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard
Before there was a Marvel Cinematic Universe there was Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. At the time it was a standalone film with no universe to connect it to but the seeds were there and planted with this film. To this day, it is still one of the better superhero films in this critics opinion and far surpasses the rather mediocre films that Marvel followed this up with. As for DC, they can only dream to have a film like this to call their own. It’s also difficult to believe that this is only ten years old now as it seems it came out a millennia ago. Cast, script, effects and crew all came together to make this a fantastic film.
We open to a military convey going through desert, Stark is joking and playing with the personnel in the vehicle he is traveling in after giving a weapons demonstration to select military officials. The convoy is ambushed and Stark is seriously injured by a bomb with his own companies name on it. After awakening Tony realises that a crude contraption and a car battery are the only things keeping him alive. Can the genius inventor Tony Stark escape and can he use the very thing that is keeping him alive? This very plot device powers the rest of the film and from here we are taken on one action-packed, amusing and thoroughly enjoyable ride.
Firstly we have to give credit here to Downey Jr, he is just simply amazing and was born to play the role of Stark, a millionaire playboy genius who cares for no one and does what he wants, when he wants to do it (or not as the case may be). Downey Jr just laps up his lines and delivers quip after quip perfectly. This film would not have been the success it was had it not been for him. Brilliantly cast with a script he can have fun with (and largely ad-libbed) along with other actors that bounce off his suit sized ego perfectly. And that includes his two robotic assistants, of which his interaction with is nothing short of priceless at times.
Paltrow is also amazing and of course her own acting credentials can rarely ever be questioned. Though I have never been a terribly big fan of hers, here she is simply wonderful as Virginia ‘Pepper’ Potts, Tony Stark’s beautiful, loyal and highly efficient personal assistant. Their interaction and chemistry is first class and they rub off of each other perfectly and you can tell they obviously had fun while filming this. Full credit to the marvelous Favreau for getting the most out of their performances (who as per usual makes a small appearance himself in one of his own films).
The rest of the cast do their jobs well enough even if they are not really that central or terribly important enough to warrant extra screen time. The excellent Faran Tahir does his best Colonel Kurtz impression, Clark Gregg makes his first appearance as Agent Phil Coulson (from the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) and yes Samuel Jackson appears in a post credits scene as the Director. The solid and dependable Jeff Bridges is imposing as ever and makes a suitably sinister and smarmy villian of the movie. This is ultimately the Robert Downey Jr show though and he leaves everyone else in his shadow.
Directing and photography are excellent and special mention must go to Industrial Light & Magic for the special effects. Really top-notch stuff here from the experienced outfit and it really shows on the screen. Audio is also top notch (on the Blu-ray at least) which also has a most wonderful score to go along with it. The soundtrack is also beating and every song seems to seamlessly fit into whatever scene is playing. Excellent work all round in that department. The script is also excellent despite four separate people working on it (which never usually works out well) and while there may be the odd moment of cringy dialogue, generally the screenplay is tight and almost tailored to Downey Jr.
I was never a great comic lover when I was younger so cannot give any comparisons in relation to the character from those but can say this is an excellent superhero film with some genuinely funny moments and also with some moving moments that do not seem to shoehorned in for the sake of having them there. The scene involving the fire extinguisher, a robotic arm and Stark is just a piece of pure comedic genius. Marvel started the MCU off with a bang with Iron Man and Favreau and not only does it count (still) as one of the best superhero films around, it also stands on its own as a cinematic experience. Highly recommended.
The Sage’s Rating: