Countdown to The Avengers (Part 1) - Review from the Vault: Iron Man (2008)

Originally I thought that I might try and use this week leading up to the release of The Avengers to re-watch each of the five Marvel films that directly feed into this weekends film (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger).  It doesn't look like there will be time due to previous engagements so I thought that I would do the next best thing: dig through my personal movie review archives and share my thoughts on these five films with everyone in a countdown fashion.  Not all of these have appeared here on my blog.  Some pre-date the blog and were originally posted on myspace.  So here we go (in chronological order by release date), number one on the countdown to The Avengers: Iron Man

Iron Man (2008), PG-13, 126 minutes The comic book nerd in me has never been a big fan of the Tony Stark/Iron Man character, but I've been looking forward to this movie since the teaser was released months ago. Not only did the movie meet my expectations, but Robert Downey, Jr's portrayal of millionaire playboy Tony Stark actually makes me not dislike the character so much. He really turned out to be the perfect fit, maybe because Stark starts out very similar to Downey, Jr in his younger days.

Downey, Jr leads what is easily the best collection of actors/actresses in terms of talent that has been assembled for a comic book based movie. He's joined by Terrence Howard as Jim Rhodes (Stark's military weapon's liason buddy), Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane (Stark's business partner who originally built Stark Industries with Tony's father), and Gweneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts (Stark's assistant and the story's love interest) all of whom bring good depth to their characters. Even Leslie Bibb's character (you've seen her in Talladega Nights) is deeper than the initial one night stand she appears to be when her Vanity Fair reporter character open's Stark's eyes to the underhanded business dealings of Obadiah Stane that have placed Stark Industries weapons (produced for the US Military) in the hands of radicals in Afghanistan.

The growth of Stark over the course of the movie makes him one of the deeper characters to have appeared in a Marvel comic based flick yet. He starts as the rich playboy without a care in the world and after being saved by a fellow prisoner in a radical camp in Afghanistan he realizes that everything he has accomplished through his company has hurt an untold number of people. He builds his first Iron Man armor from pieces of various Stark Industries weapon's that the Afghani group has in their camp (they want Stark to build them one of his Jericho missiles) and uses it to escape (while destroying as much of the camp as possible). Once home, he goes about building a newer, sleaker version of the armor that he can use to help track down Stark industries weapon's that have gotten into the wrong hands.

The visuals in Iron Man are great and the dialogue between characters is well written and often times quite humorous. This is the first movie that Marvel Studios produced by themselves and they did a very good job. Director Jon Favreau did an excellent job of moving the story along while implementing a bit of comedy here and there along with the necessary action for a summer blockbuster. There are even a couple bits that would serve as great lead-ins for a sequel (War Machine and Mandarin references), and that's BEFORE the comic book nerd friendly post-credit clip!

**** - I put this up in the upper echelon of comic book movies (i.e. Spider-Man, X-2, Batman Begins). Check it out, you won't be disappointed!

Be sure to check back tomorrow when I pull my review for The Incredible Hulk from the archive!


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