Monday, May 12, 2008

Iron Man

The wife and I finally made it to see Marvel’s production of Iron Man this weekend. Although it has received some mild criticism from some reviewers for a lack of action scenes, our consensus feeling was it is the best of the comic book adaptations, at least the best first movie of a potential franchise. The casting is superb, particularly Robert Downey, Jr. as the lead (he was born to play Tony Stark) and Jeff Bridges as Obediah Stane.

The movies opens in Afghanistan, where dissolute arms maker Tony Stark (Downey) is making a presentation on a new weapons system. The convoy is ambushed, Stark is wounded and taken prisoner, and most disturbingly to him, the ordnance used by the attackers bears the manufacturing stamp of his own Stark Enterprises. He is imprisoned with a local scientist named Yinsen (played very well by Shaun Toub, although I feel I should note that Toub was supposed to do an interview with us on another site, and flaked out, so he is dead to me), who rigs an electromagnet to prevent flechettes embedded in his chest from reaching his heart, creating a device that Stark quickly improves. They are supposed to build their terrorist captors a copy of Stark’s latest weapon, but, of course, he builds a prototype of the first Iron Man armor, destroys the camp in a rampage, and flies to safety.

As a comic book geek aside, in the original comic origin story, which was released in the mid-60s, the ambush took place in Viet Nam. It’s nice to know we’ll always have a suitable conflict with which to update this story.

Back in the US, Stark has had an epiphany after seeing his weapons arming the bad guys, and he is determined to cease arm sales, and channel Stark Industries production into more helpful-to-humanity areas. Oh, and he upgrades the armor. Meanwhile, his partner Stane (Bridges) is working against him. The whole thing culminates in a battle between Iron Man and his much larger counterpart Iron Monger. And of course, the stage is set for a sequel.

There are a few cleverly placed in-jokes. If you look carefully at Stane’s fake invoices as they fly by, you’ll see the fake name he uses is “Lebowski”, a reference, of course, to Bridge’s other role in The Big Lebowski. There is also a brief but essential scene after the credits, so wait through them.

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