Running Time: 126 mins
Rated: Rated M (moderate action violence)
The Marvel Comics company must be more than marvelling at how successful their movie franchise has been over the last ten years or so: X Men trilogy, Spiderman trilogy, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, more Batman films, Wolverine coming up soon and plans for a number of the popular comic books to be brought to big screen life.
And here is Iron Man to make a strong contribution to the success.
One of the good things about Iron Man is that he was not genetically modified by any bites. He doesn't have any unearthly powers. Rather, like Bruce Wayne who becomes Batman, Tony Stark is a wealthy (that takes care of his labs and technical and technological developments), highly intelligent (that takes care of his inventions being more than we can anticipate), patriotic (he is in the arms production and distribution business) and, generally a hail-fellow-well-met.
However, he is more than something of a playboy (not like the austere Bruce Wayne). Since the film has been updated from Vietnam to the present, the focus is on war in Afghanistan. Out there to arrogantly and vainly present his latest missiles, he is captured, tortured and sees for himself what damage his arms do. In 2008, with opinion against the war in Iraq and occupying forces in Afghanistan, the film takes a turn for more peace-oriented issues. Tony Stark is a changed man and, despite Wall St stock losses, his interest is in developing his iron man flying suit for positive purposes.
Gwynneth Paltrow is his noble and faithful assistant, not exactly a Lois Lane but rather the attractive equivalent of Bruce Wayne's butler and secretary.
When we hear Jeff Bridges' voice and look at the screen, many of us do a double take - just who is this bald and grey-bearded man? Yes, it is Jeff Bridges, all set up to be the villain of the show (in something of a parody of Dick Cheyney and his vice-presidential power behind the throne and the companies he has been associated with having huge contracts in post-invasion Iraq).
Which leaves us to comment on Robert Downey Jr being a superhero. He is not exactly the actor who comes to mind to portray a superhero (and neither was Michael Keaton, a comedian who made a rather grim Batman). However, Tony Stark is more extraverted and Downey is obviously relishing the chance to be the man about town turned zealous patriot and do-gooder. He also gets the opportunity to do a lot of stunts as most of the action in the latter part of the film has him testing his suit as he flies to Afghanistan, checking out its possibilities both in the lab and in the skies above LA and, finally, in his combat with a villain in a giant-sized iron man suit.
Some wit in the screenplay and performances from the cast who are presenting it all quite seriously means that this is one of Marvel's entertaining blockbusters.
Paramount Out 1st May
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting