DVD Review: Iron Man (2008)
May 21, 2010
Iron Man (2008) – By Isaac
“I’m sorry, this is the fun-vee. The hum-drum-vee is back there.”
I know what you’re thinking, “everyone has seen this, what can Isaac possibly say that I haven’t already heard?” – Trust me, I’ve got this. In light of seeing Iron Man 2, I wanted a fresh look at the original Iron Man.
Until last night, I had never seen the first two minutes of Iron Man, and it totally changed my perspective of the film. “So what”, you ask, “nothing happens, they just crack some jokes on a Humvee ride.” – But oh, its important. You see, this is Tony Stark’s initial “Save the Cat” moment. (“Save the Cat” is a phrase for when the main character does something good/heroic in the first 20 minutes so that the audience will like him). The scene: the legendary Tony Stark is riding in a Humvee with three US soldiers; its quiet, awkward, and boring. Tony breaks the silence with a few jokes, and after a minute everyone is laughing and enjoying his company. Its a simple scene, but it establishes Tony Stark as inherently fun and likable. Without this scene, Tony’s introduction is an arrogant billionaire playboy with no soul.
Back to the big picture. Iron Man showed the world that superhero movies can be fun, witty, action packed, engaging, adventurous, well-written, expertly directed, fantastically acted, and most of all, pretty darn good. Superhero movies don’t have to be half-baked, poorly written, 2-hour cheese fests. Long gone are the days of “let’s cast somebody big! uh.. uh.. Ben Affleck!” No way, Iron Man has it all. Robert Downey Jr owns Tony Stark, and has great chemistry with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts.
Jon Favreau did a really fantastic job of directing Marvel’s first big movie. I wish all superhero movies were executed with such exquisite attention to detail. The storyline captures the essence of Iron Man, Tony Stark looking for a reason to live. Sure he starts off as a spoiled playboy, but its not long before the billionaire is thrown into a cave and given an ultimatum. This is where Iron Man finds its heart; Tony Stark becomes a man of character. In a stirring montage (gotta love those montages), our hero builds the MK1 armor, pounding away with a purpose. This is more than just the story of how Tony Stark made the superpowered armor, this is the mythic essence that drives superheroes. This is the powerful “origin story”, the “heart of the hero” that will call audiences back to film after film. Executing the ‘Origin’ of the Superhero is the most important part of the mythos, and every sequel must find uncover a subsequent heart and passion to drive the Superhero on. (but more on that in Iron Man 2).
At at its core, Iron Man is a story of redemption. “I shouldn’t be alive… unless it was for a reason. I’m not crazy, Pepper. I just finally know what I have to do. And I know in my heart that it’s right.”
Expecting the sequel to continue this theme, Iron Man talks quite a bit about the nuclear arms race. While this was more of a hot topic during the Cold War, its not exactly irrelevant today. The United States is involved in a number of foreign crisis’, and Tony Stark’s situation begs the question: “what’s America’s responsibility in foreign affairs?” While Jon Favreau wisely avoids the archetypal wise-old-man repeating “with great power comes great responsibility”, he asserts that Iron Man has a responsibility to use his technology to not only right his own wrongs, but to protect the innocent. The ending leaves Stark with the fame of Iron Man, but also the inevitability of the Iron Man suit opening a proverbial ‘Pandora’s Box” of evil potential.
I could go on about the Superhero Formula (trading punches), the humour, the gorgeous visuals, the thrill of the Iron Man suit… but who am I kidding, you’ve all seen this. Here’s one time where I’ll just Shut Up and Watch The Movie.
4.5/5 Zipped Lips
One of the best superhero movies ever, setting a high standard for a new generation of comic-book films.