RETRO REVIEW: Iron Man (2008)

Theatrical Release Poster – Marvel Studios – Paramount Pictures

The following is a retro review of Iron Man, a Jon Favreau film.

Jon Favreau’s Iron Man successfully kickstarted the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008. Few had expected that the film would be great – and nobody saw the greatness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe coming. Iron Man is one of the most groundbreaking superhero films of all-time, and is still one of the best in that genre. 

Iron Man follows Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey, Jr) – the CEO of ‘Stark Industries’, who just happens to be a playboy – as he goes to Afghanistan to demonstrate and showcase his company’s Jericho-missile to the military. But when his convoy is ambushed, Stark is critically wounded, and kidnapped by a group called ‘the Ten Rings’. Now he must build a suit that can get him away from his captors. Tony Stark must become the Iron Man, and figure out who was behind his kidnapping.

The superhero version of Howard Hughes became Robert Downey, Jr.’s vehicle to bring him back into the spotlight as one of the biggest acting stars in the world. It would have been impossible to find a more appropriate actor for this role. Robert Downey, Jr. had had some noticeable turning points in his life, and he perfectly knew what it meant to have your life turned on its head – to realize that maybe you should change your ways. To put it bluntly, Downey, Jr. had worked towards a full recovery from his drug addiction.

Tony Stark is a character that, in Iron Man, finally sees what business he was in. Stark hadn’t necessarily realized what he had brought into the world as a weapon’s manufacturer. Downey, Jr. just knew exactly how to play this character, and ultimately gave one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from the protagonist of a superhero film. Robert Downey, Jr. lives and breathes his character whenever he is on the screen.

Downey also has great chemistry with Jeff Bridges, who plays Obadiah Stane, Terrence Howard, who plays Stark’s good friend Lt. Colonel ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes, and Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays Pepper Potts. Paltrow does a really nice job, even though her character isn’t groundbreaking at all for women in this genre.

As the antagonist of the film, Jeff Bridges does a fine job. His villain definitely isn’t the flashiest of all Marvel Cinematic Universe-films, but he is definitely one of the better villains in the universe, at least after the first two phases have been completed.

Rhodey is a pretty important character in the comics, and I like how he is introduced in this film. Howard is a great actor, and it is a real shame that he would be replaced in the sequel. When I first saw the film, Howard’s character was my favorite supporting character in the film, and I really wish Marvel Studios and him could have worked things out.

Iron Man was the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it perfectly showcased the Marvel recipe. Bring the heart, the laughs, and the action – and you ultimately get a crowdpleasing blockbuster, with the potential of even pleasing critics. Iron Man is one of the strongest cinematic debuts of a superhero character, and definitely the best film in the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

9 out of 10

– I’m Jeffrey Rex

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