In anticipation for the release of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ we will be reviewing all of the Phase One films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In Iron Man, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is held captive by a group of terrorists who want him to build a devastating weapon. Instead, Stark builds a weaponized suit and uses it to escape. Upon returning home, he builds a stronger version of the suit and uses it to fight evil.
Iron Man is a truly special film for Marvel Studios. It is the film that started it all, this shared universe we now know as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Directed by Jon Favreau, the film ended up being the perfect start to this juggernaut franchise. Right from the opening sequence, the film commands your attention. The film is able to be remain consistently engaging throughout its runtime. The focus is always on Tony Stark’s journey in becoming Iron Man, and so the character is fleshed out really well. There are no extraneous elements, therefore every scene matters. Favreau pretty much nails the portrayal of Tony Stark, balancing both his arrogant nature which makes him the unique character that he is, and his good-heartedness, which makes him a hero and somebody audiences will root for.
The special effects in the film are great, giving Iron Man an appealing visual look that is a treat for the eyes. Favreau takes a grounded approach with this film, so there are not any big action set-pieces. However, the action sequences are still very entertaining. The grounded approach Favreau takes with the film helps tell the story of Tony Stark more effectively. It’s what makes the film truly click and remain one of the best offerings from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark remains one of the best casting choices we have ever seen. It’s important to keep in mind, back then Downey Jr. was not the star he is today, so it was considered a risk casting him in the lead role. However, this proved to be a risk that paid off greatly. One of the biggest reasons why audiences are sold on the character of Stark is because of the performance by Downey. He brings the entertaining personality of the character to life, and is captivating. Gwyneth Paltrow makes for a great Pepper Potts. She is very likeable in the role and brings a lovely presence to the film. The banter between Downey and Paltrow as these characters is charming and engaging, as the pair share great chemistry. Terrence Howard is terrific as James Rhodes. Although he does not have a lot to do in the film, he makes his presence memorable. Together Howard and Downey accurately depict the friendship between Rhodes and Stark.
The cast is rounded out by good performances by Shaun Toub and Leslie Bibb. We also get to see Clark Gregg in his first appearance as Phil Coulson, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who would go on to become the connective thread between the Phase One films. Gregg is great in the role, and his banter with Stark and Potts is highly entertaining. The film also includes an appearance by director Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Stark’s bodyguard and driver. Finally, the film includes a very exciting tag at the end, which remains one of Marvel’s best post-credits scenes.
The film is pretty much a home-run without any major flaws. However, the villain Obadiah Stane could have been handled better. Jeff Bridges was great in the role and made the most out of it. But, the overall character arc of Obadiah and the motivations behind his actions is fairly generic.
Overall, Iron Man is an incredibly entertaining superhero film and is the perfect way to launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Director Jon Favreau is able to offer a film that is both clever and fun. Robert Downey Jr. delivers an electric performance that brings the enticing personality of Tony Stark from the comic book pages to the big screen. Iron Man remains one of Marvel’s greatest achievements and a great addition to the superhero genre.