The Red Right Hand

Heroes Aren't Born, They're Built

Jon Favreau

Robert Downey Jr.
Terrence Howard
Jeff Bridges
Gwyneth Paltrow

We all know I'm a comic geek; with regards to comics, I usually favour manga but when it comes to the big DC/Marvel clash, I generally side with Marvel. I always felt that Tony Stark, armed with his gold and crimson suit (played here by Robert Downey Jr.), was Marvel's equivalent of Batman/Bruce Wayne. Both wealthy inheritors of industry, Wayne was a mopey, entrepreneurial vigilante out to avenge his parent's death whereas Stark was the vain, limelight seeking, attention whore who wanted to rid the world of the weapons he helped create after suffering a horrific injury and imprisonment in Vietnam.

The plot outlines your fairly typical superhero origin story and the visual effects are selective but incredibly impressive. The soundtrack is another positive, focusing on heavy metal (oh the hilarity of the genre's name in relevance to the film, tee-bloody-hee) guitar riffs, neatly layered with orchestral waves, littered with sporadic changes to reflect Stark's personality. The supporting cast felt a little 2D but thankfully didnít play to their characters' typical stereotypes - no chortling evil villain, no lippy pay off between the leading male and female, etc but then again, the same could be said of There Will Be Blood and that film was pure genius.

Considering the premise of the film (millionaire playboy flies around in a metal suit, defying various laws of physics like Howard-bloody-Hughes, fighting bad guys), it sounds almost silly to say this but there are so many layers and a surprising amount of depth present, for those who know what to look for. The first and most obvious being the various nods to the comic; Jim Rhodes [Howard] looking over to the Iron Man Mark II suit and saying 'Next time, baby' is a direct link to events in the comics that led to Rhodes becoming War Machine; various on-screen bands and ring tones throughout the film play the theme from the 1966 TV series; Jarvis is named thus as Stark's comic butler counterpart was named Edwin Jarvis; etc. More than that, there is a scene in which Obadiah [Bridges] is playing a piano piece by Antonio Sallieri, a composer linked closely to Mozart and often portrayed as a calculating, jealous rival. As stated, for a simple 'splodey comic book action flick, there is a surprising amount of thought, detail and consideration that has gone into almost every element.

In what is quickly being dubbed 'The Golden Age' of comic book movies, it's good to know that so many directors are aware that the greatest way to make a superhero film is with drama and sparse action; not vice versa.

Release Date:
2nd May 2008

The Scene To Look Out For:
During the initial honing of the Iron Man suit, Tony Stark employs the assistance of automated robotic arms. Acting with nothing more than machines that usually build cars, Downey Jr. breathes both life and personality into the inanimate beings, providing entertaining scenes of genuine comic hilarity. Either that or the post-credits monk's reward featuring Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

Notable Characters:
How could I not highlight Robert Downey Jr's performance? The man sweats charm, charisma and a truly natural comedic effect in every scene; I honestly cannot picture this film with anyone else (especially Tom Cruise or Nicholas Cage, who were both considered for the role).

Highlighted Quote:
"There is nothing except this. There's no art opening, no charity, nothing to sign. There's the next mission and nothing else"

In A Few Words:
"A truly entertaining early summer blockbuster - and the marvel adaptation hits just keep on coming"

Total Score:

Matthew Stogdon