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Rating: 4 out of 5 Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropists
Plot Synopsis: Tony Stark loses his heart but gains a conscience in this, the origin story, of Iron Man.
-We start in media res before flashing back. This is the 3rd Phase One movie I’ve watched, I’m not watching them in any particular order, and they pretty much all start this way. We start in media res and then flashback to provide context, catch up to where the film started and then move forward. It’s a good formula but so far Captain America, Thor and now Iron Man has started that way.
-“Please, no gang signs.”
-Stark seeing his name on the bomb that gets him, he literally has a bomb with his name on it.
-The picture of Tony with Bill Gates. Bill looks so young.
-It’s a great introduction, we get an intro to the character and RDJ really packs in a lot of character in the 3 minutes he’s on screen before being blown up. Then we go to an awards ceremony where we are introduced to the background of the character, his best friend and Obadiah Stane as the number 2.
-Starks little interview with the Vanity Fair reporter. She tries to ambush him with “Merchant of Death” questions and Tony, who is clearly aggravated by this, comes back with well-practiced answers. At least they seem that way because later in the movie we see how he reacts to truly being surprised and there is much more befuddlement, he’s still confident and sarcastic but he isn’t as sharp as he is in that moment.
-I really prefer Jarvis as an AI and not a stuffy old, fat and balding butler. It makes it much more interesting and modern. He’s not Bruce Wayne, the stuffy butler works for Bruce Wayne but not for tech genius Tony Stark.
-Pepper Potts is played brilliantly by Gwenyth Paltrow. “…That includes occasionally taking out the trash.” A nice little dis directed at the reporter that Stark seduced.
-The interplay between Stark and Rhodes is great. Terrence Howard is a much different Rhodey than Don Cheadle. Howard is much angrier, much more serious and much more antagonistic. I’ll get into Cheadle’s performance when I do Iron Man 2. Howards Rhodey doesn’t “banter” with Stark, there’s no friendly/sarcastic give and take, and they don’t rag on each like friends do. There’s more respect in Howard’s performance an almost reluctant aspect to their friendship like he owes Tony, like he HAS to be friends with Tony despite all their differences, there’s definitely concern but there’s also a lot of antagonism that doesn’t seem friendly. But Howard is great as RDJ’s straight man. I know how great an actor Terrance Howard is so it’s kind of sad to see him playing just the straight man but he does it really well.
-Starks speech before launching the Jericho missile really speaks to his state of mind pre-captivity.
-I like the grainy CCTV reveal of Stark’s arc reactor in his chest rather than showing it in full color in full screen.
-I like the big bad head of the Ten Rings. I originally thought it was supposed to be a secret version of The Mandarin (I don’t think they ever call him by any kind of name), I’m glad that turned out to not be the case but he still is quite intimidating in his role.
- They don’t just show you the armors, they milk the reveal of both the original Iron Man Mark 1 armor and the Iron Monger armor by using darkness, off camera action and quick cuts to give you hints of the armor before finally revealing it in a dramatic camera angle.
-The Mark 1 looks just so badass. It’s a much better interpretation of the original, bulky Iron Man armor. It has the same bulkiness but it just looks so much cooler, it looks like it was built in a cave from spare parts, it has so much going on visually that it’s just more interesting to look at.
-Stark’s return press conference. “Hey would it be alright if everyone sat down…” it really shows the internal crisis going on in Tony Stark. He starts off talking about his dad and rambling a bit before ramping up to the big announcement that Stark Industries is no longer making weapons.
-Agent mutha fucking, Phil mutha fucking, Coulson. A small start but the start of something great.
-Stark and Stane have a great relationship on screen, I wouldn’t call it a father/son relationship, more like an uncle/nephew relationship or an older brother/younger brother relationship. Of course until the final reveal of Stane’s true nature.
-“We’re Iron Mongers, that is what we are.” A nice nod to Stane’s comic villain name.
-Rather than compliment everyone’s onscreen relationship I’m just going to say that they assembled a great ensemble cast. Everyone works really well with each other and everyone seems to be having fun. There doesn’t appear to be anybody just collecting a paycheck, it all works very well and it feels real and organic.
-I want an action figure of Dummy, Stark’s anthropomorphic robot arm. That thing has a lot of personality for an inanimate robot arm.
-His test footage of trying out the armor’s abilities is hilarious.
-I want his holographic computers.
-That’s a nice Bulgari watch.
-Hey, it’s Stan Lee!
-There are too many great lines and great little moments to document them all.
-That first landing as Iron Man in the Mark 3 is awesome, arms out, knee down, hard landing.
-When Iron Man gets involved on the battlefield is awesome as well. He just takes everybody out no problem and the paint on the armor gets scratched and worn off as he gets beat up.
-He hits that tank with an itty bitty missile that just destroys it after making a small, hollow “ting” sound..
-The jets are Whiplash 1 and Whiplash 2. A nice reference to the comic character.
-It’s a nice slow burn in revealing Stane as the big bald bad, they even do the old bait and switch to make you think the Ten Rings guy is going to end up being big bad before showing everything for the final big reveal.
-Dummy comes through at the last minute and saves the day.
-Rhodey looks at the Mark 2 (what will later become the War Machine armor) and says “Next time.” Great sequel bait. However it has no arc reactor so there’s no way to power it and it’s not like he could wear it anyway.
-It’s impressive that Pepper can run in those heels.
-The Iron Monger armor is impressive, huge and armed to the teeth it’s a force to be reckoned with. I like that the jets are not the slick, controlled, clean burning jets that Stark has. Instead they are loud and dirty and emit huge flames with massive clouds of black smoke billowing out.
-There are some really great parts in the final battle.
-Iron Man boosts up into a flying punch.
-They go to all the trouble of building an official story with alibi’s and a claim that it was a bodyguard (good nod to the comics) before Tony just finally throws it all away and admits to being Iron Man.
-Then we end on Black Sabbath’s Iron Man.
-When they water board him why doesn’t his chest short out and why doesn’t the car battery keeping him alive electrocute somebody?
-How does Tony know how to fly? They never give any kind of flight background on Tony so it’s confusing to me how he can fly the armor so well, well enough to engage 2 trained jet pilots and beat them.
-The final battle has good moments but overall feels too short. I would have liked to see more of a brawl then we got.
-Starks hair game is just not on point. It got better as the character grew.
Final Thoughts: It took me a while to get around to watching Iron Man. In fact I didn’t even see it until well after the second one came out. The second one just looked so fun that I wanted to go see it regardless of seeing the first one. Eventually I missed out on seeing the second one in theaters and managed to grab a DVD special edition of this movie in a bargain bin. At the first watching I wasn’t all that impressed by it but during subsequent viewings I really fell in love with the movie.
It’s not my favorite Phase One movie but it’s an incredibly solid movie even outside the context of Phase One. The special effects are fantastic, you can’t even see the seams, and everything looks solid and real and functional. You believe that a suit like that can exist and that someone like Tony Stark could create it. It does a really good job drawing you into this world and making you care about the characters. Everyone delivers a really good performance, they all play well off each other and their relationships seems organic and real. It’s just a good movie that happens to be about a comic book character and that is really the mark of a good comic movie, when you don’t have to add the caveat “for a comic book movie”.