Okay, let’s start this with off a pair of disclaimers. Firstly, due to time constraints I’m going to have to knock this out in a bit of a rush. If it appears at all disjointed, misspelt and badly structured it’s possibly due to the excuse that I’m working against the clock. Secondly, although I’m writing about the film Iron Man (which I went to see yesterday), I do so not only as a card-carrying cinephile but as someone who has also spent just over three decades as an unrepentant comics fanboy.
So, having said all that, I’d just like to take this opportunity and say that Jon Favreau’s Iron Man was the most fun I’ve had at the cinema in bloody ages.
As summer blockbuster fare goes, I found it hard to fault. Smart direction, excellent performances and more substance and subtext than you’d normally expect from that kind of budget at this time of year. As a superhero movie – that increasingly ubiquitous if not always respectable of genres – it was one of the best. Up there, in my humble opinion, with long-underwear benchmarks like Superman: The Movie, X-Men 2 and Batman Begins.
As a comics fan with a more than passing familiarity with the source material (the first superhero comic I read as a 7 year-old featured “Shellhead”), I was quite taken aback at the extent to which Favreau and his team successfully condensed forty years’ worth of fictional history whilst remaining true to the spirit of the comics. Sure, the same has been said for other successful comic2films adaptations, but none have gone as far as Iron Man to strive for authenticity. I kept waiting for that one duff artistic choice that would spoil it for me – like Sam Raimi dropping Spider-Man’s character defining wisecracks because they didn’t fit his vision- but it didn’t happen. It was a note-for-note perfect adaptation.
And what can I say about the casting of Robert Downey Jr as the eponymous armour-clad person of mass destruction? It was a bloody stroke of genius: RDJ is Tony Stark. He absolutely nailed the role. I’ve been a big fan of Downey Jr since 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, going out of my way to watch pretty much anything he’s appeared in ever since and never being let down. I think he’s one of the most charismatic actors of his generation, and its great to see him getting top-billing on a big summer blockbuster. And his well-documented bad boy shenanigans of the past actually helped Iron Man: his personal baggage was actually an asset to the role, giving Tony Stark the kind of implied background a 12A certificate can’t make explicit.
For fans of Iron Man – and Marvel Comics in general – the film was packed with treats and hints of things to come (and, if there’s any justice in the world, there will be more to come – I haven’t left the cinema that hungry for a sequel since Batman Begins).
And as for the obligatory Stan Lee cameo – it’s a gem.