Monday, May 05, 2008

IRON MAN is a kickass summer start-up

My first meeting with Iron Man was in 1965 at age 10 — Tales of Suspense #69. That issue featured the first appearance of Titanium Man, a propaganda tool of the Soviets, created solely to kick Iron Man’s butt and embarrass the West. Very cool, I thought. I liked Tony Stark, and I liked the fact that Tony needed The Suit to keep himself alive. But I never saw Iron Man as a top-tier hero. In the Marvel pantheon, Spider-Man was a top-tier hero. The Fantastic Four were top-tier heroes. But Iron Man? Sure, I liked him, but as I trimmed my comic book intake, he became an early reject from my reading list.

Iron Man, the motion picture, shoots the character right to the top of the Marvel Comics superhero pantheon. Here’s a case where the movie is actually better than its source material. All the bits and pieces from the Iron Man mythology are there, but they’ve been cleaned up, shined up, streamlined, and given a modern twist that is irresistible. As the first blockbuster of Summer 2008, Iron Man sets the bar astronomically high for the rest of the season’s movies, and there are a LOT of ’em coming up.

Here’s what I loved about Iron Man: everything. I knew in my gut that Robert Downey, Jr., was gonna be a spot-on Tony Stark, and he is. His is the screen performance to beat this summer. Gwenyth Paltrow (as Pepper Potts), Terrance Howard (as Rhodey), and Jeff Bridges (as Obadiah Stane, aka Iron Monger) are all top-notch, particularly Paltrow, whose chemistry with Downey sizzles. The special effects are extraordinary. The laughs are, well, laugh-out-loud. Director Jon Favreau keeps piling on the surprises. And I liked the film's anti-war bias, mild as it was. Iron Man doesn’t let up for a second, and as soon as Deb and I finished watching it, we were ready to watch it again.

OK, I’ll stop gushing now.

Oh, by the way. I can’t believe that after all these years, people still flee the theater as soon as the credits begin to roll. As is now so often the case, there is an extra 20 to 30 seconds or so, an extra scene, that appears after the credits. Keep your ass planted in your seat for it, especially if you're a comics fan. It had the four or five of us remaining in the theater cheering yesterday afternoon.

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At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Iron Man was a practically flawless hero flick; its makers drop some pretty obvious sequel hints too... i'm thinking the next one should be equally great


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