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Rewind Reviews - Marvel's Iron Man

by Andrew Siddall. Published Tue 28 Aug 2018 18:58, last updated: 28/08/18
The Armoured Avenger in Marvel's Iron Man
The Armoured Avenger in Marvel's Iron Man

Ten years ago, the thought of movie characters being able to team up over multiple film franchises seemed impossible. Sure, there have been the monster movies of old, but nothing recent. That all changed in 2008. In this Rewind Review we travel back to the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Iron Man.

Based on the Marvel Comics character Iron Man/Tony Stark is a billionaire weapon inventor who is captured whilst demonstrating a new missile. Rather than bow to his captors demands, he invents a high tech suit of armour to escape and destroy the weapons he created putting people in harm’s way.

Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes) slips on the red and gold suit as Tony Stark for the first time, and it is a role he was born to play. Starting out as an arrogant inventor, Stark’s life is changed when he realises his weapons are being used against the innocent. The character arc is well told and paced, setting up the future origin movies from Marvel Studios. Downey Jr. makes the role his own and shows what a good choice he was for the part.

Gwyneth Paltrow also makes her debut as Pepper Potts, Tony’s personal assistant and potential love interest. It would have been easy to just side-line her character and focus on the super heroics, but the film gives her a good amount of screen time to develop a great personality and allow her relationship with Stark to develop in a believable way.

In his first and only appearance as James Rhodes is Terrence Howard, who does a good job as Tony’s friend who sometimes struggles with Tony’s lifestyle. He makes his mark on the role with a great performance and chemistry with Robert Downey Jr.

Not content with being just in the director’s chair, Jon Favreau cast himself as Tony’s driver Happy Hogan. He doesn’t have a lot to do, but he’s a good character and a welcomed addition to the cast.

Even though Tony’s captures are the villains, they play second fiddle to Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger, played by Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski). He’s a slow burning villain with his sinister undertones saved for later in the movie, similar to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), allowing us to partially connect, or at least, understand his motivations. He’s a great character and the perfect antagonist for the burgeoning avenger.

The story takes its inspiration from the comic books, in particular his origin from 1963, but the story is updated to suit the modern world to make it seem more believable. The first act takes place in the middle-east after a weapons demonstration, steering away from the American/Russian dynamic of the early comics.

One of the most surprising details was the amount of improvisation between the characters, with some of the most iconic lines being made up on the spot. This allows the characters to feel more realistic and relatable, which is something Marvel has been able to do time and time again.

With this being a comic book adaptation, there’s a lot of action. It may not have the scale of Avengers: Infinity War, nor the ferociousness of The Incredible Hulk, but it certainly is great to see the armoured avenger exploding through tanks and blasting the bad guys away with his repulsors.

Iron Man also moves away from the traditional hero vs villain dynamic that occupy most action sequences in superhero films, instead opting for more of Iron Man doing what he does best; flying to the rescue and helping others, with the only proper battle being the final confrontation. This makes for some fantastic scenes that make full use of the Iron Man suit, including a chase involving two jets.

For a movie that came out in 2008, the effects are still incredibly believable. Making use of both practical effects and CG, the movie makes Iron Man possible, using real technologies from today and actually utilising scientific knowledge to ground the character in our world.

In something that has become infamous with Marvel Studios, Iron Man managed to bring the laughs in ways many others hadn’t even attempted. This makes for an easier view as it doesn’t try to become too dark or serious.

Having that lighter side gives younger viewers an opportunity to discover such a beloved character and enjoy the film alongside older fans.

Marvel has been accused in the past of not featuring memorable musical themes, but Iron Man shows how wrong those accusations are. Pacific Rim’s Ramin Djawadi manages to craft a soundtrack that blends rock and classic movie scores, and even includes a few AC/DC songs. It sounds great and suits the character and story well. It’s worth a listen to on its own, including some of the unused tracks.

The MCU has changed significantly over the past ten years, and it’s an amazing achievement for a movie studio that had to sell off a ton of its characters to avoid bankruptcy. Iron Man’s legacy has paved the way for the most successful movie franchise of all time by crafting a winning formula that has worked for the entire MCU.

Overall, this is an incredible introduction to the MCU and a fantastic movie all of its own. With great characters, some brilliant sequences and a good villain, this is one of the best superhero films ever made and worth checking out.

Purple Revolver rating: 5/5. Off to a flying start!


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