Thursday Night Movie Club
Iron Man
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Release Date: 2 May 2008

Director: Jon Favreau
Robert Downey Jr.
Terrence Howard
Jeff Bridges
Gwyneth Paltrow
Leslie Bibb
Shaun Toub
Faran Tahir
Clark Gregg
Bill Smitrovich
Sayed Badreya
Paul Bettany
Jon Favreau
Peter Billingsley
Tim Guinee
Tony Stark / Iron Man
Obadiah Stane
Pepper Potts
Christine Everhart
Agent Coulson
General Gabriel
Abu Bakaar
Jarvis (voice)
William Ginter Riva
Major Allen
Iron Man movie poster #1 Iron Man movie poster #2 Iron Man movie poster #3
Of all the super hero movies that have crossed movie screens in the past few years, Iron Man succeeds where others have failed. The film has plenty of action, suspense, intrigue, great characters, great actor portrayals, humor and "heart" (pun intended).

Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) is a billionaire, playboy, womanizer and arrogant to beat the band. He is a child prodigy taking over the reins of Stark Enterprises from his deceased father Howard. Howard Stark built his empire on making ever more sophisticated weaponry. He supplies the world's armies. Tony has followed in his footsteps.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron ManTony Stark finds himself in the Middle East demonstrating his latest weapon. Stark takes a page right out of the Ron Popeil handbook of gadgetry: Fire It and Forget It. He is traveling in a convoy laughing it up with the troops when the convoy comes under rocket fire. Stark finds shelter behind a boulder when a rocket lands next to him. He has just enough time to see his own Stark Enterprises logo on the rocket before it explodes. He is gravely injured.

Stark regains consciousness some days later to find he is a prisoner. Worse yet, his heart has been wired to a car battery. A fellow prisoner and scientist has crafted a device to keep Stark alive. A piece of shrapnel has lodged in Stark's heart. An operation is out of the question under the current circumstances. The device is designed to prevent the shrapnel from moving deeper into his heart and killing him.

Stark can't live like this the rest of his life. Using the parts available, he constructs a miniature power source that will do the same job only this would be portable. It is also implanted directly into his chest making Stark a modern-day Frankenstein. Slight exaggeration, more like the Bionic Man.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron ManStark's captor's have a job for him to perform. They have a supply of Stark Enterprises weaponry but they don't know how to put the pieces together. Stark, to his utter horror, is now playing on the opposite side of the chess board. How can his weapons have ended up in the wrong hands? Luckily for Stark, his captors have no idea what he is doing even though they keep him under constant video surveillance. He is actually constructing a suit of armor, mechanized and powered by the device in his chest. Using the suit, Stark escapes his captors to the theme of Iron Man by Black Sabbath. Iron Man is born.

Once back in the States, Stark decides to take Stark Enterprises in a different direction. The company will no longer build weapons but will work on bettering humanity. This does not sit well with Board of Directors head Obadiah Stane (Bridges). As all good business men know, a war economy is very profitable, especially if you are the ones supplying the guns. A wedge is driven between the two men.

Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Slane in Iron ManJeff Bridges is very good as Howard Stark's friend and business partner. Tony has kept him on board with the current Stark Enterprises because Stane is very business savvy. He knows all the right people and he knows how to close a sale. He can go from nice and friendly to subtle vehemence in the blink of an eye. Neither of these traits are a part of Tony Stark's persona. Stark is in it for the fun and excitement of taking an idea through to a finished product.

Humor is a big factor in the success of Iron Man. The one-liner joking between Stark and his secretary Pepper Potts (Paltrow) is wonderful, reminiscent of the bi-play between Bogie & Becall and Willis and Sheppard from TV's "Moonlighting". One example centers around Potts' birthday that Stark forgot. He tells her to take money from his account and buy a nice present. Potts' reply, "I did." The lines are staccato-paced and very cleverly scripted. There is great chemistry between Downey Jr. and Paltrow.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron ManAlso on board to add a spice of humor is Paul Bettany who voices Stark's Artificial Intelligent servant Jarvis. Jarvis' humor is more subtle and usually involves warning Stark that he is about to exceed the design specs while testing his Iron Man prototype. Stark is about to find out whether the suit can fly. After the suit flies up through Stark's ocean-side manor and returns wiping out several of Stark's highfaluting sports cars, the tone in Jarvis' voice suggests, "I told you so."

The best joke in Iron Man revolves around Playboy magazine publisher Hugh Hefner. Stark is making his way through a crowd of people at a cocktail gala when he spots an older gentleman wearing a maroon bathrobe. Stark calmly says, "Hi Hef. Great to see you." The startled man turns around and it is not Hefner but Marvel comic book creator Stan Lee. This is Lee's best cameo to date.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron ManDirector Jon Favreau also packs plenty of visual jokes into Iron Man. Besides the fore-mentioned mishap testing his suit is a scene of Iron Man in the Middle East to take out a terrorist cell that is using Stark Enterprises weapons. Iron Man fires a missile at a tank and then calmly turns away. Nothing happens when the missile strikes the target. A few seconds pass before the tank is destroyed in a huge explosion. Iron Man doesn't even flinch.

Iron Man succeeds on every level. The film has humor, heart and soul, great action and effects scenes, good character interactions and just enough darkness to be scary for younger viewers. Iron Man hits the mark for a very enjoyable summer action escapist film. No doubt there will be an Iron Man 2, 3, 4...