The calendar may still say it’s spring but the summer blockbuster season has officially kicked off with the latest from the Marvel Universe, Iron Man. Similar to other films based on characters from that world, it looked great, from its posters to its well put together trailers. But unlike those which have previously disappointed and generally sucked, Iron Man delivers, even if it’s not as you’d expect.
For anyone who may not know the general premise, here goes. Tony Stark, an extremely wealthy industrialist, is forced to build a missile after he is captured in Afghanistan. But unbeknownst to the captors, Stark takes this opportunity to build a prototype suit to break his way out of captivity. Once back home he decides to use his newly acquired technology to fight the forces of evil.
I am glad to see that the first official blockbuster of 2008 gets us off to a good start — more than good, in fact. It was clear from the very first film from summer of last year that it was going to be a catastrophe for the biggest money making season of 2007. If we are to roughly judge the quality ahead by looking at Iron Man alone then the blockbuster season of 2008 is gong to be an impressive one indeed.
What I was expecting from Iron Man was lots of action — big, expensive-looking set pieces but nothing much else. What we get is something quite different because although action is there, and there are big set pieces and CGI, there is a lot more to it, most notably the script and how Robert Downey Jr delivers his lines. For anyone familiar with him as an actor you will know exactly what I’m talking about; he has this wit and charm about him that could make even the worst of scripts bearable. He employs his style with much gusto, injecting fresh life into the dramatic-actor-playing-a-superhero exercise.
What jumps off the posters for the film, besides the awe of seeing the suit, is the fantastic cast. They support Downey Jr very well, from Jeff Bridges' creepy colleague to Terrence Howard’s sceptical but supportive army general. But what I was most pleasantly surprised about with regards to the cast is Gwyneth Paltrow. She provides her best performance in years and she and Downey Jr work so well together with the dialogue, playing off of one another and keeping each other on their toes. The dialogue is one of the primary strengths of the film; even if it isn’t top-notch throughout, the way Downey Jr handles it and how others play off of him makes for a extremely entertaining time when the action isn’t taking place.