Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, Allison McAtee, Stacy Stas
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Marvel has done it. They have made a super hero movie, complete with astounding special effects, that makes us both cheer and revere its complicated and flawed hero. As with the Spider Man franchise, the story of Iron Man allows us to imagine a world where an average man, even if he is a billionaire and a genius, can do extraordinary things.
Robert Downey, Jr. is at his finest playing the billionaire playboy turned flying knight in a role that seems to have been predestined for him. You believe every minute that Mr. Downey is both enjoying the character and giving a not-so-subtle wink to the cameras as he brings to life Tony Stark’s debonair and semi-debaucherous lifestyle (his personal plane comes standard with a convertible stripper pole). Much like his other famous role of Chaplin, Mr. Downey plays genius with a focus and ferocity that makes one wonder if he took advanced mechanics and engineering to prepare for the role. This movie is very much about one man, and with that type of focus, the risk that the actor does not live up the character is great. Mr. Downey does a splendid job in filling those titanium alloy boots.
The rest of the cast does provide a break for, well, all the Tony Stark-ness. This is a film where the supporting players sharing the screen need their own individual star power in order not to be left in the dark. Terrence Howard plays the best friend role of Rhodey (AKA James Rhodes), and those of us who are in the know will recognize the reference to the future where he, too, will don the suit. Gwyneth Paltrow, as Tony’s assistant Pepper Potts, brings sophistication to the role as well as the Hollywood romantic tension. Jeff Bridges is almost unrecognizable in his bald-and-bearded portrayal of Tony’s business partner Obadiah Stane. I wonder if the beard was a personal joke by Bridges referring to the Amish-sounding first name. Shaun Toub brings humanity to the Afghani version of Yinsen, the man who originally saves Stark’s life and is the co-creator of the first Iron Man suit.
The movie stays pretty true to form in terms of style, imagery, and story. While the battle field has moved from Vietnam to Afghanistan, and the enemy is not communists but terrorists, the evolution of Tony’s suit reflects the trajectory in the comic books. The story line will have even the most critical fan-boy speaking begrudging praises while still keeping non-initiates engaged and excited without feeling the need to bring a Marvel Comics encyclopedia to the theater. This is due to the wonderful directing of Jon Favreau (who also cameos as Tony’s driver), a strong screenplay, and, of course, Stan Lee himself.
In short, as my buddies began to text me on the way home… Awesome!!!
Miguel Guadalupe grew up in New York City and currently resides in NJ. He is an Account Executive at FirstRain, a search-based research company for investment Professionals, and has worked in financial services for over 10 years. A graduate of Wesleyan University, he currently volunteers for various alumni and community organizations, and is the proud father of a talkative and tenacious toddler.
Miguel Guadalupe is a Director at Gartner Inc, a technology research company. Miguel (he’s the one in the middle) grew up in New York City and currently resides in New Jersey. A graduate of Wesleyan University, he currently volunteers for various alumni and community organizations, and is the proud father of a two beautiful girls.