Iron Man (2008) – Jon Favreau

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Robert Downey Jr. is perhaps the best superhero casting since Christopher Reeve in Superman: The Movie. Yes there have been good actors as famous comic characters since then, but none have seemed to so personify the role they take on as Reeve and Downey Jr.

Revisiting Iron Man for the 101 Action Movies (which is coming to an end shortly!) list is a joy, and it’s so cool to see so many things that have become standards of Marvel Universe films at work here. There’s Coulson, the post credit sting, and the building blocks for all the films that come after start falling into place…

Tony Stark (Downey) is his father’s son, a genius who is carrying on the long history of Stark Industries as a weapons designer and manufacturer. He’s also a gambler, drinker and carouser. After his convoy is attacked by forces using weapons he designed, and he sustains life threatening injuries, he is captured by terrorists and is being forced to build weapons.

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Instead, he crafts a life-saving device that keeps pieces of shrapnel from penetrating his heart, and then a suit to bust out of his confinement.

Upon returning home, he is reunited with his personal assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), his bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), his friend Col. James Rhodes (Terrence Howard) and his partner at Stark Industries Obidiah (Jeff Bridges); all of whom are rather surprised when Stark says they are no longer working on arms, but will pursue other options.

When he learns that his weapons are still being sold to not only the military but their enemies as well, he starts work on a private project, creating a suit that will let him combat these people, and perhaps make up for some of his past grievances.

Downey is perfect as Stark, and Favreau, as the director has surrounded his lead with a strong supporting cast. He keeps the story moving, balancing action sequences and story, live action with CG,and he does it much smoother and abler than some of the other superhero movies we’ve seen.

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This film cemented Downey’s return as a bankable star, has turned him into not only a household name, but a symbol of the entire Marvel Universe for film-goers young and old.

Iron Man the movie, and the character, has a sense of humor, as Stark makes glib remarks while his eyes often tell a different story, giving the character,story and subsequent series a heart and emotional resonance.

Favreau treats the subject with as much realism as you can attach to a comic book property that has seen it’s share of good and bad stories, like all comic books that have been around for any amount of time, but the character is true to its origins, and is very at home in the 21st century.

For me personally, this film made my appreciation for Marvel trump my affection for DC, and while I still like a lot of DC characters, you can make mine Marvel.

How about you, Mavel? DC? Favorite Marvel Universe character?

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