Now I know what most of you are probably thinking. You are all wondering why I didn’t review today’s movie a couple of month’s ago. Well, there is a method to my madness, or at least my organizing ability. You see today’s movie was the first in an ongoing series of movies that have been dubbed the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”, which is why I waited until now to watch these movies. Now, I was a big collector of comic books as a kid, and to a lesser extent now, and mainly picked Marvel over DC, though there were some exceptions, and while I was not a long time reader of Iron Man or the Avengers, I did read enough of the comics to know enough about the character. Hearing that a live action movie would be coming out had me eager to see it so let’s see just how good today’s movie, Iron Man, really is.
The plot: In Afghanistan, Tony Stark is riding in a military convoy when the convoy comes under attack. Tony tries to get to safety and call for help, but an explosive lands near him and he has time to notice that it is one of his own weapons before it explodes, seriously injuring him and he is captured by a terrorist group known as the Ten Rings. In flashback, a ceremony is held at Ceasar’s Palace where Lt. Colonel James Rhodes, Tony’s friend and military liaison whom he refers to as “Rhodey”, was presenting an award to Tony but Tony didn’t show up so the award was accepted by Obadiah Stane, the manager for Stark Industries. James finds Tony gambling in the casino and after they leave, Tony is approached by reporter Christine Everhart, who asks him a couple of questions and ends up going back to Tony’s place with him to have sex. The next morning, Pepper Potts, Tony’s administrative assistant, goes over some last minute items before he heads to the airport to meet Rhodey and they fly to Afghanistan to showcase Stark Industries new Jericho missile system. Back to the present, Tony comes too and finds himself a prisoner along with another scientist named Yinsen, who was able to save Tony’s life by grafting an electro-magnet to his chest in order to keep the pieces of shrapnel still in his chest from reaching his heart. When their captors arrive, they have Yinsen translate and tell Tony that they want him to build them a Jericho missile, revelaing that they already have several cases of weapons for him to use in the process. Tony agrees, but instead of building the weapon, he decides to use the materials to build a way out of there. First, he takes apart several missiles and uses some of the material inside to build a miniature arc reactor, which will help keep the shrapnel from his heart and make him more mobile, as well as power what he wants to build next, an armed suit of armor that will help them break out of there. When the leader of the Ten Rings grows impatient with their lack of progress, he gives them an ultimatum to finish the missile by tomorrow or he will kill them. Stark and Yinsen rush to finish building the armor but when they realize it will take some time to fully power the suit, Yinsen grabs the weapon from a downed guard and heads out to buy Tony some more time and ends up getting shot. Some guards enter Tony’s workspace as the suit finishes powering up and he makes short work of the guards and makes his way out of the cave. Finding the badly injured Yinsen, Stark tries to rescue him but Yinsen’s injuries are fatal and he tells Stark that he will be going to see his family, who are already dead, and tells Tony not to waste his life. Tony exits the cave and proceeds to destroy all of the cases of weapons that were from his company before flying away from there, crashing some ways out into the desert. Tony is eventually rescued by some military helicopters, with Rhodey leading the search, and transported back to the US, where Pepper tries to get him to go to a hospital but he insists on grabbing a cheeseburger and then call a press conference. Returning to Stark Industries, Tony is greeted by Obadiah and they head to the podium for the press conference, while Pepper is approached by Agent Phil Coulson from S.H.I.E.L.D., who asks her to arrange a time for Tony to be debriefed. At the press conference, Tony announces that the experience has opened his eyes and he plans to shut down the company’s weapons manufacturing division, which causes some concern to Obadiah, who voices his concerns to Tony later. At his home, Tony has Pepper help him as he works on replacing the arc reactor he built in Afghanistan with a newer, more powerful model. Tony goes to see Rhodey and tells him he is working on a new project and wants to bring him in but Rhodey turns him down and tells Tony he needs to go back to making weapons. With the help of Tony’s AI program Jarvis, Tony begins building a new suit of armor, choosing to keep it a secret from everyone and keeping the records on his own server. As his work progresses, Obadiah comes to see him after attending a meeting with the Board of Directors and tells Stark that the company’s stock had dropped 56 points but Tony refuses to tell Obadiah what he is working on, even when Obadiah tells Tony that the Board is filing an injunction against him. Tony finishes in building a suit of armor and decides to take it for a test flight but as he tries seeing how high it can go, the suit begins to freeze up and he ends up falling from the sky until he is finally able to reboot his system and regain flight. Returning to his home, Tony works on solving the freezing problem and comes up with some new ideas for a future suit, then heads out to a charity benefit while the new suit is being built. At the event, Tony sees Pepper and convinces her to dance with him and as the two are talking later, they realize there is some chemistry between them. Tony is later approached by Christine, who shows him some photos of an Afghan village, which Tony recognizes as Yinsen’s home, showing the villagers being killed by Stark Industries weapons, including the Jericho missile. Tony questions Obadiah about the weapons being shipped out and Obadiah admits that he is the one that filed the injunction to lock Tony out of the company. Tony heads home and after donning the new suit of armor, flies to Afghanistan and arrives in time to save a group of villagers from being killed/taken captive by the Ten Rings, then heads to the weapons depot that had the Jericho missile and destroys it. As he is flying back, he is attacked by two F-22’s, as the military had observed what had happened and wanted to know what the unknown bogey was. Rhodey is on the phone with Tony and though he denies it at first, Tony admits that the bogey is him and he accidentally destroys one of the planes but manages to save the pilot before flying off. Later, Obadiah arrives in Afghanistan and meets with the leader of the Ten Rings, who had retireved the original armor that Tony had built. Obadiah uses a sonic weapon to paralyze the terrorist, then has his men kill all of the terrorist and take the armor with them, where he assigns a secret lab at Stark Industries to work on reverse engineering a prototype to build. At his home, Tony sends Pepper to Stark Industries to break into the company mainframe and try to find any list of the shipping manifest for the weapons but when she hacks the computer, she finds a video file that shows Obadiah was working with the Ten Rings and had ordered the attempt on Tony’s life. Obadiah shows up as Pepper copies the files and when he realizes what she has done, he starts to go after her but Pepper leaves the building with Agent Coulson. When Obadiah’s people are unable to create a miniaturized arc reactor, Obadiah goes to Tony’s house and uses the sonic device to paralyze Tony long enough for him to steal the arc reactor from Tony’s chest. Pepper calls Rhodey and has him check on Tony while she leads Coulson and some other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to Obadiah’s lab. At his house, Tony makes his way to his workshop and grabs the original arc reactor that Pepper had framed but passes out before he can put it in but Rhodey shows up and helps Tony. Pepper leads that agents into section 16, where they find Obadiah in his new suit of armor, which he calls Iron Monger. Tony dons his Mark III armor but the old reactor is only able to provide 64% power. He arrives just in time to save Pepper from Iron Monger, but he finds himself out matched by Obadiah’s armor. Deciding to use Obadiah’s armor against itself, flying up to the maximum altitude with Obadiah on his heels, but just as Obadiah catches up to Tony, the Iron Monger armor succumbs to the freezing temperatures and shuts down. On reserve power, Tony manages to make it to the roof of Stark Industries but Iron Monger appears and continues fighting him. Tony uses the suit to call Pepper and has her prepare the main arc reactor to overload, resulting in the Iron Monger suit to overload and kill Obadiah, who ends up crashing into the reactor and causing it to explode. The next day, Tony is given a cover story by Agent Coulson to use at his press conference to talk about “Iron Man” but when he gets to the podium, he ends up telling the reporters that he is Iron Man. Later, Nick Fury shows up at Tony’s house, telling Tony that he is not the only super hero and asks to speak with him about the “Avenger Initiative.”
Iron Man was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus among the critics is ” Director Jon Favreau and star Robert Downey Jr. make this smart, high impact superhero movie one that even non-comics fans can enjoy.” The movie was a box office success, earning over $585 million worldwide off a $140 million budget. The movie would be the first in Marvel’s attempt to make a unified cinematic universe with the hopes of incorporating future characters into the film series and having them all be connected.
While I have always gone back and forth as to where I would rank this movie among the others, One thing that never changed is the fact that this is an incredible movie to watch. Robert Downey Jr. was hands down the best person to play this role and he did an amazing job as Tony Stark. Gwenyth Paltrow (Pepper), Jeff Bridges(Obadiah), and Terrence Howard(Rhodey) were also very good in their roles. The story was very good and did a good job of modernizing the origin as well as introducing the audience to a character that most people were not as familiar with as other super heroes. The special effects were really good and had a great blend of the CGI with the suits to mix with the real life people they were interacting with. A great action/comic book movie that really leaves you chomping at the bit for more.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5