The surprise of 2008 was Iron Man, probably a bigger surprise than how good The Dark Knight turned out to be. Iron Man was a movie that was not seen as a potential blockbuster movie until the first trailer hit the net after which the buzz began to come. But even some of the shittiest movies have really great trailers and so everyone was eager to see if Iron Man could live up to its potential. From a movie about a little known superhero that nobody think will be a great success to one of the most anticipated movies of 2008 all due to one trailer. That is a nice feat. And luckily Iron Man lived up to the expectations set by the trailer and its sequel has become one of the most anticipated movies of 2010. And this time all it took was an announcement that it was in production.
The movie had some big obstacles to overcome, like the character of Tony Stark who is a womanizing, hard drinking, weapons manufacturing, arrogant playboy. The audience has to like this character in order to be involved with what happens to him. Bring in Robert Downey Jr., himself very familiar with substance abuse, who transforms the character into that arrogant prick but also makes him really fun to watch. Before and after his change of heart in the movie Tony Stark, equipped with snappy dialogue that elevates his character from the two-dimensional pages of the script and aided by the delivery of Robert Downey Jr. who inhabits the role, is enigmatic to watch and the foundation of why this movie works so well. He is more interesting without the suit than he is in it, and as such while the movie is called Iron Man, it might have well been called Tony Stark.
But a great character does not make a great movie. Luckily Iron Man has a great supporting cast and a good script. Jeff bridges looks impressive with his bald head and goatee as Obadiah Stane and the chemistry between Stark and his assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is there. There little verbal one-twos are fun to watch, as is there “professional” attitude towards each other. I must admit one of the greatest roles in the movie was that of Yinsen (Shaun Toub) who is locked in a cave together with Tony. Despite having a limited screen time he made a good impression on me and is one of the reasons why the change of heart of Tony is believable.
Being an origin movie the superhero persona Iron Man himself isn’t fully developed until half of the movie. The writers have taken a good lock on movies like Spider-man and Batman Begins on how to have a good balance between the story of slowly becoming a superhero and actually showing him. Without a background there is no interesting superhero. In fact Iron Man is only in three or four (action) scenes during the course of the entire movie. The other parts where he’s are just part of creating the suit. And yet this is still his movie, but that’s because he and the Tony Stark character are one.
Iron Man overcame the odds and initial response to the newsflash that it was being made and turned out to be a great superhero movie and if not for The Dark Knight it would have been the best superhero movie of 2008.