Look, the moment I heard that they cast Robert Downey Jr. in the role, I knew that there was someone thinking clearly behind the Iron Man film, and had good expectations for it. I felt it was one of those exactly-right casting choices, and the film itself, and the critical response, proved me right. And it’s a very good, very watchable film, doing a good job of keeping strongly to the source material without being an awkward kludge. Visually lovely, witty, and fun.
But having said that, there were a few things that seemed to me to be missed opportunities or going more to an overused trope than need be. Consider the Spoiler Alert about Iron Man flag to be flying.
- This is not a superhero film, in that Iron Man does not act as a superhero during it. His actions are all either self-defense, correcting mistakes he himself wrought, or revenge (even though it may benefit someone else along the way.) This isn’t Spidey swinging through the city looking for crime. Sadly, this is a common element of a number of supposedly-superhero films… and comic books as well. And I’m not saying that there isn’t room for things like X-Men and Hulk that run on this self-defense motif, I just think that we could use a bit more real superhero out there, folks who are intentionally improving the world through their actions. (Having said that, there is some legitimacy to doing the movie like this, in that in the comic book, Iron Man is often working in his bodyguard/protector of Stark Industries form.)
- The big confrontation is Iron Man versus the bigger, eviler version of himself created in reaction to his existence. Didja see the trailer for the Hulk film? Looks like the big battle is Hulk versus the bigger, eviler version of himself created in reaction to his existence. Me, I don’t agree with the villain-must-be-tied-to-the-hero’s-origin assumption that runs through almost all superpower movies… and the pairing of Iron Man and Hulk storylines just seems to hammer it in.
- The use of “Jarvis” as the name for the computer interface is a cute little reference, but would seem to take Jarvis the Butler himself off of the table as a character for any upcoming Avengers film. Which is a shame, because that’s the character in The Avengers with the most interesting point of view.
- When the cell phone rang, I didn’t recognize the tune (I’ve never watched those old Marvel cartoons), but just because of the way it was featured, I thought “I bet that’s the theme for some old Iron Man cartoon”. Which means it maybe should’ve been more subtle.
- But I liked the Stan Lee cameo much better than other folks seem to have. Confusing Stan Lee with Hugh Hefner is actually legit; they are really parallel people, these two magazine-creators with strong comics interest who go on to serve as visible figureheads. Yes, the man who named Bruce Banner has a lot in common with the man who named Barbi Benton.
It ain’t perfect, but it’s a pretty darned good film. If you think you might wanna see it, you probably do.