In a very rare turn of events, I actually managed to see Iron Man while it was still in theaters. I’d been hearing good things about it, and since my father is still intent on seeing a lot of movies, I thought I might as well give it a try.
Not too long before I saw Iron Man, I watched A Scanner Darkly for the first time. In addition to being a cinematic gem, I was fascinated by Robert Downey Jr.’s quirky style in that film. And, in Iron Man, I was treated to more of the same. Downey may very well have been the perfect actor to play the eccentric-billionaire-genius role, which he does with expertise and a kind of genuineness that’s hard to see in movie theaters these days. Watching the film, one gets the impression that his character really is a brilliant mechanical prodigy and weapons dealer.
The plot is full of interesting little details that make it better than the campy, somewhat clichéd thing it otherwise probably would have been. Like the electromagnet implanted in Downey’s character’s chest to keep the shrapnel out of his heart. The film is fairly rich with little personal touches like that which lend it an air of authenticity. In addition (spoilers ahead), Stark’s (Downey’s character) first rendition of the suit is a rough welded-together sheetmetal monster that looks (as much as is possible, I suppose) like a giant armored suit assembled out of spare parts in a cave somewhere.
This is the part where I usually say “Even though I liked the film, it had its problems.” Well, even though I liked Iron Man, it had its problems. There was a weird edge of unrealism to it, which may or may not have come from the adaptation from a comic book. And the actual plotline of the film itself, if you cut out all the little details which make it rich and believable, is really nothing but a series of meandering film clichés. Even so, Iron Man testifies to Downey’s acting ability, because the way he plays his role breathes life into a plot that we’ve all seen before. Even the stupid little jokes are funnier, just because Robert Downey Jr. has a weird sort of goofiness and hyperactive energy about him.
All in all, I liked Iron Man, even when it strayed into preachiness, even when it stumbled into cliché, and even when it meandered somewhat pointlessly. The special effects are pretty, the dialogue is fresh enough not to be boring, and even some of the more minor characters feel fairly real. A good film, and probably worth seeing, even if you aren’t a fan of the comic books.