Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Iron-clad hit

I saw a sneak preview of “Iron Man” tonight, which I thought was an absolutely great superhero flick.

They did a really great job updating the story. Tony Stark’s company is the leading weapons contractor for the U.S. military. But during a trip to Afghanistan he’s captured by terrorists using weapons he designed. While in captivity he builds his first suit of armor to help him escape.

Upon returning home, Stark – who once reveled in being nicknamed “the merchant of death” – seeks a new direction for himself and his company. Privately he begins to perfect his armor suit to help him protect the little guy, while publicly announcing his company is getting out of the war business.

But in the process, Stark develops enemies left and right who try to co-opt his inventions for their own devious purposes.

“Iron Man” ranks right up there with the “Spider-Man” movies (at least the first two). The Spidey films benefited from the fact that director Sam Raimi is a lifelong Spider-Man fan. I think it shows in “Iron Man” that director Jon Favreau is great big comic book geek at heart too with a real appreciation for the source material.

I can’t say enough about the cast. Robert Downey Jr. is the perfect Tony Stark. He owns the character. Gwyneth Paltrow is enjoyable as well as Stark’s loyal assistant Pepper Potts. Rounding out the cast is Terrence Howard as Stark’s close friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes and Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane.

Also worth noting is the fact that this is the first movie released under the new Marvel Studios banner. Now that Marvel is producing their own movies, that opens up the possibility for potential character crossovers down the road – and it appears some seeds are being planted this summer. Look for S.H.I.E.L.D. to play a key role in the storyline, references to the Avengers’ butler Jarvis and a brief nod toward “Iron Man” spin-off “War Machine.” Meanwhile, there is word Robert Downey Jr. will making a cameo as Tony Stark next month in “The Incredible Hulk,” which is said to also feature S.H.I.E.L.D. and a possible reference to Capitan America’s super soldier serum.

It’s been a great run for Marvel Comics fans at the movies. “Iron Man” keeps it going and shows that there is still more to come. They can’t make a sequel fast enough!


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