I figured that I'd write about Iron Man since I just saw the trailer for the new one. I thought that it would have to wait, but since Fight Club came out in 1999, I'm technically writing about a movie from a different decade, which fits my goal of each review being on a different genre and from a different decade than the previous one.
I have long since considered making a list of what I thought were the Top 10 comic book movies of all time. Then I reconsider it and think of doing a Top 10 superhero movies of all time (which would include a movie like Unbreakable that wasn't based on a comic). What prevents me is that push comes to shove, I might like reading such lists, but I hate making them, as my mind changes far too often. I will say though that in some scenarios, Iron Man tops either one of those lists. Other contenders include Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and Spider-Man 2.
It's almost strange that Iron Man gets such high marks from me. After all, Spider-Man and Batman are my two all-time favorite superheroes. Still, that doesn't make their movies good, but it certainly helps me to be so fond of those films. Iron Man though? I have only a small handful of Iron Man comics, and in all honesty, I might have more appearances of the character in The Avengers and various guest appearances than I do of him in any of his solo series. I guess that I like him just fine, as I love superheroes in general, but I've never followed his adventures on a regular basis. I guess that says a lot about the film, as it made me want to read more of the comics than I did before.
While I'm hardly an Iron Man expert, I knew enough that Robert Downey, Jr. was the right person to play the part. I think that it was a pretty universal feeling amongst fandom that he was the right guy, and this isn't just because he's had substance abuse problems just as Tony Stark/Iron Man has also had. Downey was easily believable as the part of a billionaire/genius/wunderkind. As for everybody else, I wasn't invested in the characters enough to really have much of an opinion one way or another.
One thing that's good about this film is that it really doesn't hit any bad notes - unlike some of the other contenders for best superhero film. It also has a really solid pacing from the beginning to the end, and it really just seems to fly by every time I watch it. Another good thing is the special effects, as they really found the right balance between CGI and practical effects. There were some people who critiqued John Favreau's lack of training as an action director, but I think that he did a great job in all the major combat scenes. I especially liked the "cool" factor of when Iron Man shoots the tank, turns around and then walks away as it blows up.
Just like any other genre film that raises itself up above the competition, this film is a good one because it's ultimately about something relatable. Tony Star is consumed with his own selfish desires, and it takes a major trauma for him to realize that he's connected with the rest of the world and what he does has an impact on other people. It's also quite fitting that what powers his suit is also what's keeping him alive, and it's essentially "connected" to his heart. That works as a handy metaphor, as the film is all about a man who finds just that and learns to use his talents for the betterment of mankind. (Sounds a lot like socialism!)
I also must say that what I really liked about this film was the love story. Of course, it's an unfulfilled love story, and it's basically leaving things open for the sequel. Still, the scenes between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts are more genuine than what you see in a lot of supposed "romantic" movies. Sure, the film puts them in a lot of far-out predicaments, like when she has to reach into the hole in his chest, but there's some genuine emotion and drama that comes out of that.
Check out the trailer for the sequel if you get a chance. It looks like it should be fun. (I should add that another great thing about Iron Man is that it is a really fun film. There's great action and a lot of humor and snappy dialogue that really keeps it moving along.) Mickey Rourke looks like he'll make for a good villain, and I'll try to stomach the repellent thought of Scarlett Johansson with red hair and in tight black leather. Truly, truly repulsive, I know.