Summer movie season officially begins!

I love superheroes. But following any of the great, iconic characters through comic books is just too much for me. There are just so many titles, and so many cross-references, and so much history, and the retconning and the starting over at issue #1 whenever they feel like it and the crazy “universe changing events” they bust out every few years…I can’t take it, I seriously don’t even know where I would begin. Which is why I so enthusiastically support the recent glut of movies starring said iconic characters. Much easier to consume! And yet, I have been so disappointed in the most recent offerings. X-Men: The Last StandSpider-Man 3? Just disheartening. Plus I didn’t even bother watching Superman Returns because I hated the casting so much, and Superman is my homeboy. I needed a fix. And Iron Man gave it to me.

By now you already know that the reviews for Iron Man are insanely good. As a huge Robert Downey, Jr. fan, the reviews could have been heinous and I still would have paid to see him snark his way through the role of Tony Stark, billionaire industrialist and fun-loving alcoholic. Not surprisingly, he does a great job with a strikingly well-written role. Tony Stark is not like Peter Parker or Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne. Before he has his requisite traumatic event that triggers his new path to being a superhero, Stark is a borderline misanthrope, sliding through life without much regard to the bigger picture of humankind, despite his significant role in it as a major weapons manufacturer. Making this slick, womanizing, heel of a guy likable is the key to making the movie work, and Downey’s delivery of the script’s clever dialogue hits just the right point. The jokes are smooth, the exposition entertaining enough that we don’t quite realize that’s all we’re getting, and the touches of emotion never feel forced.

The successful tone of the movie also owes a lot to the supporting actors. Shaun Toub shines in the relatively thankless role of Yinsen, a fellow captive when Stark is taken prisoner and asked to build a missile for the enemy. Gwyneth Paltrow looks like she is having the most fun she’s had in years as our one girl, Pepper Potts. Fellow industrialist Jeff Bridges is bald and with a goatee, what more can we ask for? And Terrence Howard plays the role of suspicious and skeptical friend Jim Rhodes with a pleasing agreeability; I’m guessing that since the character becomes a more important part of the Iron Man universe in the comics than he is here, Howard knows he’ll get to have more fun in the sequels.

The action is satisfying too, especially the sequences in which Stark tests out his suit’s capabilities, and when he exacts a little revenge on some terrorist-types in Afghanistan. Maybe the climactic battle could have been a little more exciting for me (I still couldn’t quite see why our villain felt he absolutely had to kill Stark, and Pepper was a bit ridiculous standing there waiting to be told what to do), but dang if the special effects weren’t great. This movie just looks good, all the way through, and that bright, shiny world is one I loved spending two hours in.

I’m psyched that Marvel Studios’ first major release as an independent production company turned out so well. Their plans for the future are ambitious: Iron Man 2 and Thor in 2010 (Thor is really the sort of character I could geek out over, I mean, he combines mythology and superhero lore), then, in 2011, Captain America followed by The Avengers, which brings all of the characters together. It’s a potentially really awesome line-up, but a lot of product to churn out in just a few years. Please, Marvel, keep one thing in mind: the script is the most important part! Don’t rush into production on anything until its script is just right. Or you’re going to give us another Spider-Man 3, and nobody wants that.


2 Responses to “Summer movie season officially begins!”

  1. 1 Aaron May 21, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I loved it too, I went to the midnight showing since I’d be in San Fransico for the whole weekend and then saw it agian the following Saturday. I did notice you failed to mention Marvel Studios other big project, The Incredible Hulk coming out next month. That one is looking good too and is written and staring my favorite fight club star

  2. 2 Brandi Sperry May 27, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Yes, I’m not sure how I feel about The Incredible Hulk…I hope it’s good and I won’t compare it to the first try, but the character isn’t super interesting for me. I do hope that Edward Norton is at his best and that the movie does well for Marvel’s sake, so they don’t end up strapped for cash and rushing their productions out or anything like that.

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