Science fiction and fantasy
directed by Jon Favreau
Iron Man has a touch of American war propaganda about it. The US military are shown in the best light, well-organised and heroic. By contrast the mercenaries are rough, bearded, rag-tag and ruthless, a truly international selection of some of the world's nastiest men.
The experience in Afghanistan leaves Tony Stark changed. After he sees how the weapons made by his company have ended up in all the wrong hands he has a change of heart. But his change of direction could cost his company dear, so it doesn't make him popular with the other directors.
Stark's home is run by a computer known as Jarvis (voiced by Paul Bettany), and with the help of his assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). It's a very high-tech place, very modern and flashy, like Tony himself. Jarvis seems to have some kind of artificial intelligence, and Stark almost seems to get on with his computers better than he relates to real people, although he's far more flamboyant than your typical nerd. Pepper Potts and Tony's air force friend Rhodey (Terrence Howard) also inject a subtle humour into the proceedings.
However there's nothing subtle about the ensuing action scenes. The Iron Man suit is incredibly gaudy, and the action has a characteristic Marvel flavour. With a brightly dressed flying superhero, an oversized villain, a corrupt corporation and lots of crashes and explosions, it has all of the elements we have come to expect of the superhero genre. If anything it's a touch clichéd. There's no doubt that Iron Man is intended to appeal to the same young male demographic as recent movie franchises such as Spider Man and Fantastic 4.
Fortunately production values are high, and the story is always entertaining enough to make it easy to overlook the film's less believable aspects. I'm not talking about the sci-fi elements like the flying suit or the sophisticated Jarvis. What's incredible is how someone as dissolute, lazy and irresponsible as Tony Stark could ever manage to put in the work that's required to become an expert in his field, much less a genius. And how does he manage to withstand all of the high-speed collisions he's involved in, encased in a metal suit that barely has any room for cushioning? Iron Man is a film full of larger-then-life characters with personalities as vivid as Iron Man's suit. It's fun, but it's not meant to stand up to close scrutiny.
If you like this, try:Avengers Assemble by Joss Whedon
Marvel superheroes team up to save the world from Loki and his exceptionally bad taste in headgear.
Captain America: The First Avenger by Joe Johnston
In the forties a secret plan to boost the war effort results in the creation of a superhero. But can one person really make a difference?
Thor by Kenneth Branagh
The god of thunder is cast down to Earth to learn a little humility.
Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Jon Favreau