It seems that the bar for movies based on comic books just keeps getting set higher and higher. Sure there are the occasional rotten eggs. Daredevil, Electra, Fantastic Four, X-Men 3, and Spiderman 3 spring to mind. Hrrrmmm…maybe the quality of comic book movies isn’t increasing as rapidly as I thought. That makes Iron Man even more impressive. Some mild spoilers may follow.
Iron Man was, quite simply, FUN. It hit just the right mix of humor and action, and the conflict between Iron Man and the big bad was intensely personal. It was less “save the world” (although there was a certain element of that), and more “you did NOT just do that to me.” Despite focusing quite a bit on the development and testing of various suits, I never felt that the movie lagged.
The special effects were terrific, mostly because you couldn’t tell what was computer-generated and what wasn’t. Granted, Iron Man flying at 30,000 feet with two fighter planes probably wasn’t a stunt double in a suit, but for just a second, you thought it might be. The acting was good across the board, with Robert Downey Jr. really standing out. He put all my doubts about his casting in this movie to rest. Gwenneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, and the rest of the supporting cast were solid, if not spectacular.
The movie-watching experience for me was the best I’ve had in a long time. We saw it a week after it opened, and the theater was nearly full. I don’t remember the last movie I saw where scenes caused the entire audience to break into spontaneous applause. We did during Iron Man.
There are lots of references that are sure to get the comic book geeks excited (no, no, definitely not me. certainly not), but they don’t bog down the movie for the average consumer who just wants to be entertained. If you’re one of those said comic book geeks, you’ll probably want to stay for the scene after the credits. Or, you know, look it up on YouTube in a couple of weeks where it is sure to appear (copyrights be damned!).
Iron Man is the best comic book movie since Batman Begins, and might even pass it for the sheer entertainment factor. If you want to blow $10, there are worse ways you could spend it.