Premise: Iron Man introduces Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), the billionaire playboy arms developer who after becoming abducted by a terrorist cell in the middle east for his role in the perpetuation in their ongoing struggle with the West, he finds himself grappling with the ethical ramifications of his actions after his daring escape. The then relies on his considerable resources – both intellectual as well as financial to construct the iconic iron man suit and take up against the crime.
Story: While superficially, yes the film’s narrative is quite contrived, the filmmakers have gone to great lengths to jazz up the scene by infusing a surprisingly socio-politically aware and responsible film. This quality is entirely unexpected but most welcome as it serves as a reminder that simple, widely accessible main stream film can also be intellectually engaging, and politically aware. This adds some much needed nuance to what is otherwise a by the numbers superhero action film.
Acting: Downey Jr. is perfectly cast as the title character as he resembles the character both physically as well as bares remarkable similarities to the character’s pompous, egotistical demure. Also notable is the always impressive Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane as the films antagonist. Terrence Howard by contrast as Rhodey seems to be a little less enthused about his role in the film and is subsequently replaced in the latter installments of the franchise by Don Cheadle.
Execution: Thanks to being over all, well cast an well written the film adds up to being more than the mere some of its parts. The film is critically aware of the political atmosphere of the time in which it was created, in particular of the events surrounding 9/11 and America’s role in the rise of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. While no overt finger-pointing takes place within the film, it does take a very careful approach to present the cause-and-effect nature to which a prominent presence and side-taking may lead to unforeseen and horrible consequences. Furthermore, the films commenting on the West’s military-industrial complex and the commercialization of war is carefully presented but no less poignant. All told, for a film of this level of audience accessibility it is exceedingly ‘smart’ and above all, respectful of its audience and able to stimulate the audience in a delightfully wide variety of ways.
Overall Impression: This film is quite simply, one of Marvel’s best, benefitting from solid acting, considerate themes and a palatable narrative. This is a refreshing reminder that not all films need to be brain-dead to be fun, yet at the same time, doesn’t need to boast an R rating to be cerebral and engaging. This is a worthwhile experience for fans of Downey Jr., superhero and action films. Easily worth the $10.00 for the blu ray.