Iron Man

Robert Downey, Jr., stages a great comeback in his role as billionaire inventor Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man. (© 2008 MVLFFLLC & © 2008 Marvel Entertainment)

Whether you’re a superhero fan or non-fan, you will love Iron Man, an extraordinary adventure that delivers the high-octane, high-caliber entertainment that Hollywood seems to run out of. 

If you’ve already seen Iron Man, raise your hand if you thought Robert Downey, Jr., had it in him. Obviously, he did, in spades. Downey is Iron Man, a force of nature that makes it hard to imagine anyone scooping the role better than he did. He was born for this moment. The rest of the cast was fine—Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Terrence Howard. But this is Downey’s show. His performance explodes with his own personal passion for the Marvel Comics superhero created 50 years ago by Stan Lee and Larry Lieber, which Business Week ranks among the top ten most intelligent fictional characters in American comics.

For those who have not read the Marvel Comics of Iron Man or The Avengers nor seen the film—which is the first self-financed venture by Marvel Studios—here’s the rundown. Iron Man is to Tony Stark as Superman is to Clark Kent. Except that Stark’s superpowers are technological. And he is no mild-mannered reporter but a bigger-than-life industrialist-billionaire-inventor-genius, who supplies the military with cutting-edge weapons. And whose “kryptonite” is a magnetic device in his chest that regulates his heart and keeps his shrapnel in check. His weapon is his own iron armor invention, which is both a flying machine and portable fortress that not only saves his life but turns it 180 degrees.

What is so compelling about Iron Man is, well, everything. A rich story line that is topical and full of humanity. The outrageous dry wit of Tony Stark, compliments of writers Marc Fergus & Hawk Ostby (Children of Men). The amazing technology—especially the scenes where Stark test-drives his invention. The way Downey rides the story line to tame Stark’s overbearing personality into someone so fallibly human, a challenge he describes as “making a wealthy, establishmentarian, weapons-manufacturing, hard-drinking, womanizing prick into a character who is likable and a hero.” And lest we forget Jon Favreau, Director Extraordinaire: You Rock! We see sequels in your future; please make them equally great! (Not to mention Downey’s upcoming role this summer as Tony Stark in The Incredible Hulk, directed by Louis Leterrier.)

As you notice, I have revealed as little as possible of the Iron Man story. If you have yet to see the film, view it with innocence, be surprised and delighted, and get inhaled, just as I did. And later, when the memory of this film’s amazing detail starts to fade, schedule a second viewing, which is just what I plan to do.  A+

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