DVD Review: ‘Iron Man’


Millions of years from now historians will open up their gigantic history books and turn big, dusty pages that are bigger than a man is tall, and they will look up the Summer of 2008 and they will see that it was known as the Summer of the Comic Book Movie.

And that all began with Iron Man.

I saw Iron Man in the first week of its release and then not again. It’s not that I didn’t like it – I loved it – but you know… life is busy for a professional podcaster and comic book pundit, especially during the Summer of the Comic Book Movie. The Incredible Hulk and then Wanted and then Hellboy and then The Dark Knight… well, there was just no time for a repeat viewing.

The Iron Man DVD release finally hit last week and I was excited to finally get to sit down and watch it again. I was excited to watch it again and curious to see how it would hold up on second viewing. I was fairly confident it would still be excellent, but always in the back of my mind is Daredevil. I loved that movie when I saw it in the theater. I remember coming out of the cinema talking about how much better it was than Spider-Man and how I couldn’t wait to see it again and… and… and then I saw it again when it came out on DVD…

Looking back on my life now, I surmise that the only possible explanation was that I was drunk when I first saw Daredevil.

Anyway, where were we? Oh, yes! Iron Man!

Yeah, Iron Man still fucking rocks.

While watching the DVD it occurred to me that Iron Man might just be the most well rounded comic book movie to date. The Dark Knight was clearly the best film, but it was 95% intense — like, super intense! — drama. Iron Man balanced out the intense drama with many genuine laugh out loud moments and featured just a sprinkling of a slightly more believable love story than The Dark Knight had (but let’s face it, I wasn’t really buying Bruce/Rachel or Tony/Pepper). The credit for the balance in Iron Man falls squarely on the shoulders of two men, director Jon Favraeu and star Robert Downey Jr.

Jon Favraeu can clearly handle the funny. He’s got the proven funny track record as a writer/actor/director. Favreau wasn’t known as much for drama, but the films of his that I have seen that he has starred in, or wrote, or directed have all had moments of powerful drama that are usually so overshadowed by the funny that you forget that they are there. The only real question that I had going into Iron Man was: could he direct action? And I think he proved that yes, he can direct action, and then some. One of the only problems with the modern comic book movie (and modern action movies in general) is that the action is often shot very close-up and chaotic. I don’t know if they filmmakers are trying to give the viewer the feeling of being immersed in the action itself or what, but it usually just leads to a whole lot of confusion. Favreau didn’t have that problem with Iron Man. The action was shot cleanly. It may come off as less sophisticated or artistic, but at least I could tell who was hitting who.

When Robert Downey Jr. was first announced as Tony Stark I raised one very intrigued eyebrow. I’ve always been a huge fan of Downey’s, he’s an incredible talent whose demons have often gotten the better of him. Clearly, he was made to play Tony Stark. This man is so completely Tony Stark that it’s freaky. His Tony Stark is charming, funny, brilliant, driven, and heroic – often all at the same time. There aren’t many actors who can pull off Tony charming the pants off a reporter, and then Tony realizing what a life of war mongering has caused, and then Tony bantering with his robot assistants, and then Tony telling Pepper to blow-up the Arc Light generator knowing it would mean his certain death. Robert Downy Jr. is not only believable in all of these scenarios, he absolutely nails them. All of them. Downey dominates this movie like no other comic book movie lead has before, and that’s because there is no one else on the screen that comes close to his charisma. Reeve had Hackman, Jackman had Stewart and McKellen. Here, Downey’s charisma dominates. It’s a tour-de-force performance.

I would be remiss if I didn’t address the whole Terrence Howard situation. If you don’t know, it was recently announced that Marvel Studios had cast Don Cheadle as James Rhodes in Iron Man 2, the role played by Terrence Howard in this film. Marvel Studios had said that the change was made because of a financial dispute with Howard. A few days later, Howard told NPR that the first he heard that he wasn’t playing Rhodes in the sequel was when it was announced that Cheadle was. He claimed to know nothing about a financial dispute and that apparently the contract he signed for the sequel was “not worth the paper it was printed on.” Not having any knowledge of the situation, I’m not going to get into who is right and who is wrong, that would be irresponsible. What I will say is that it’s a damn shame that it went down this way and I would be lying if I said that knowledge of what was happening with the sequel didn’t effect how I viewed this film. Every time Howard was on the screen I made a little sad face, both for him (because I have read how much he was looking forward to being War Machine) and for us (because he was so good in Iron Man and had such great chemistry with Downey). Don’t get me wrong, I am a big Cheadle fan, it’s just that I think they had the perfect guy to play Rhodes in Terrence Howard and it’s a shame that he won’t get to live out the promise of “Next time, baby.”

I am very happy to report that Iron Man lives up to repeated viewings. If anything, it’s even more fun the second and third time as it allows you to pick up on more of the little details, like the Roxxon sign in the background of the Iron Man/Iron Monger fight and the half built Captain America shield in Tony Stark’s workshop. I also still get a big(ger than I’m willing to admit) fanboy kick out of seeing a squad of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents swarming into action. The only time I had ever seen that before in live action was in that horrid Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV movie and that doesn’t count because that movie never happened.

I can’t report on the extras on the Iron Man DVD because, well, I didn’t watch any of them. I was too busy watching the movie itself to worry about things like a deleted scene featuring Tony Stark and a bunch of ladies in a hot tub– hey, where’s my remote?

There was a lot riding on Iron Man, and its runaway success achieved a whole lot than anyone could have imagined.

  • The newest chapter in the big book of Hollywood Comeback Stories is titled “Robert Downey Jr.” 
  • Marvel Studios is now a legit player and I imagine that besides the characters already licensed to other studios, you won’t see a major motion picture featuring Marvel characters produced out of house again. 
  • The idea of a shared movie universe (that possibly culminates in a big crossover movie) is now a reality. 
  • Warner Bros. finally got a wake-up slap to the face about their general mistreatment and squandering of the DC Comics characters in film (although I wonder if the unspeakable success of The Dark Knight is going to make them rethink their rethinking).


All of this happened because of Iron Man

But honestly, the best part of watching Iron Man on DVD?  Getting to fast forward through the endless credits to get to the Nick Fury scene which, in all honesty, still gave me chills.

The Avenger initiative!  Weeeeeeeee!

Comments

  1. I loved this movie the second time around as much as I did when I first saw it.

    And I agree, Warner Brothers needs to wake up and get their characters out there.  Marvel proved with Iron Man that a second tier character can make tons of money.

  2. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I can report that the blu-ray is totally badass.  

  3. This movie pretty much instantly became one of my all-time favorites.  Downey owned that character in a way I’ve rarely seen, superhero movie or not. 

    That said, I will have a little sadness every time I watch the "Next time, baby" scene.  I wanted to see Howard’s War Machine so much.

  4. Don Cheadle is an amazing actor as well, but, I don’t know, I can’t really see him in the role. Howard just looked it and played it perfectly.

  5. Weeeeeeeee indeed.

  6. What I got out of the whole Terrence Howard thing is that he was given a handshake deal that if the first one did well they’d take care of him next time, but when it came time to sign the contracts for the sequel, they balked.  That’s just what I took from his comments on NPR.

    The Blu-Ray is badass!  The comic book discussion in the extras was really dry.  My eyes glazed over when Ellis was talking about Extremis.  Granov’s art in blu-ray on plasma = awesome.  Excited to watch The Hulk as well.

    I don’t see how they’re going to have enough money to afford an Avengers movie.  I’d assume Norton won’t be there and I’d be surprised if unknowns weren’t cast as Cap and Thor strictly so they can keep the budget down.

  7. @Horatio: You probably got it right on the money.

    As much as a big name actor would be a great selling point for both films. Unknown actors are probably the way to go when it comes to Thor and Cap. Hey that could be the bread and butter for new actors….Where else can you say your first two films are Captain America and The Avengers? I would love to have that in my resume as an actor.

    I love Iron Man, it’s the first time I really felt a director and actors love the roles their doing. I hope Downey and the remaining actors stay with their roles because they are perfect for each part. Shame about Howard, but as usual money has to come first so I can see why the innevitable happenend. But Cheadle is a far better actor and it’s going to be fun to see him in the War Machine suit as well. Great film all around, get it in any form cause it’s well worth your time.

  8. One thing to notice on a repeat viewing:

    When Pepper is hacking Stane’s computer, on of the ship manifests she finds is for the HMS Lebowski…

  9. @SunnyvaleTrash- In the scene where Obidiah is talking to Pepper in his office, when he was getting a drink I would have loved it if he had mixed a White Russian.

  10. I was surprised at how many different Special editions they made w/ Best Buy mini bust helmet, Targets helmet case, and the pack ins of the bobble heads and Walmarts Primere of Iron Man Armored Adv. disc.

  11. I am probably in the minority when I say Howard was pretty much the only thing I disliked about the movie…Cheadle should have been cast in the first place. Something about Howard’s voice is just painful to me.

  12. I sorta agree with mistersizzle.  I didn’t hate Howard in the role, but his voice was a little high pitched, for James Rhodes, for my tastes.

  13. Great comic book movie, which is indeed a rarity…

    "but let’s face it, I wasn’t really buying Bruce/Rachel or Tony/Pepper"

    Really?  I couldn’t agree more with you about B/R, but I thought the T/P relationship was very believable…an awkward almost workplace romance.  I loved that they didn’t feel obligated to turn it into something more.

  14. that was very well written, thanks.

  15. I agree with Uthona on Tony and Pepper.  I liked that they’re both these emotionally distant people that only occasionally show themselves to each other and even then in small glimpses where Tony won’t show himself vulnerable to anyone but Pepper and how much Pepper connects with Tony on a level he has with no one ese in the movie.  It felt that was this odd unspoken thing where they only act really comfortable around each other which I think comes out best in the "exposed wire" scene.  I also appreciated that Faverau fought the urge to make it overt or have the "falls madly in love at the last moment" ending that happens way too much in movies though the ball kind of skirted that a little too much for me.  I rarely like those scenes with the female lead but I really really liked whenever Downey and Paltrow were on-screen… and I hated Paltrow before this movie.

  16. I think IRON MAN is almost as good as SPIDER-MAN 2.  I kept going back and forth on which was better and I think I have to give it to Sam Raimi.  However, I really believe that IRON MAN 2 could be the best super hero film every made.

  17. I give the edge to IRON MAN as the best Marvel movie made to date.  It just hit on every note and did it almost perfectly.  I like SPIDER-MAN 2 a lot, but I’ve had the DVD since it came out and I think I’ve watched it once.  I want to rewatch IRON MAN – right now!

  18. If you like IRON MAN and haven’t seen KISS KISS BANG BANG you’re really missing out.  KISS KISS looks like an audition for Tony Stark.  It’s a great movie!

  19. I think I’ve seen KISS KISS, BANG BANG like 20 times.

  20. You guys dont even wanna know what the title of the porno version of KISS KISS BANG BANG is. 😉

  21. we watched this the other night and to me it felt even better than the first time. for some reason i kept thinking that the whole capture and escape took much longer than it did, like an hour or something. it flew by! maybe i was just waiting to see the suit in action. right now for me this is the best comic book movie adaptation.

    so i rented the hunting party the other day (netflix yes, or quickflix as it is here) because i’d heard that may have helped TH get the gig. fucking loved it, then turn on the news….no no no no no! "next time baby!" indeed 🙁

  22. I’ve trumpeted for a few years now, to people I know IRL, that Daredevil is my favourite comic book movie.  I say this with folded arms, on a slight lean, and a look on my face that says "yep.. I’m awesome."  People have always reacted with "Really? Wow! The comic book nerd says the ACTUAL good movie is the one no one saw!"

     But… I’ve only seen it once.  Now Conor, you have me scared to watch again :/

    PS Iron Man and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang are awesome 

  23. Iron was great, holding up to multiple views extremly well. I used to be a big multiple view in the theater type guy, but I think until Iron Man the last movie I had bothered to see more than once was Revenge of the Sith three years ago. I saw Iron Man five times this summer.

     

    Iron Man was easily the best comic book movie of the summer and, for me, probably steals the number two best comic book movie slot from Batman Begins. Superman: The Movie is still number one.  

  24. Downey also makes the movie very accessible for non-comic fans.  My wife actually asked ME to watch this!?!  Conor’s right, best Marvel movie ever.  Iron Man.  Whodathunkit?

  25. Just watched Hulk again and it held up very well.  I didn’t like the otherwise excellent Hurt as Ross, because he played him a little too cartoonishly, and Roth was just totally miscast.  Also, Liv Tyler<<Jennifer Connolly.  Good, well paced movie.  Probably deserved better at the box office.

  26. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang f’n rocks my socks off, and so does Iron Man. It’s awesome to be a nerd. Robert Downey Jr is my hero.

  27. I have to say that I recommend watching the deleted scenes in Iron Man if only for the one where Tony is approached by two women and tells them that he’s thinking of a number between 1 and 5.

  28. I watched all of the special features last week and I was blown away, the practical effects were really impressive.

  29. I loved the movie and the second viewing blew me away even more , although the third viewing was still enjoyable but i started to see it as a bit of a set up movie for the next instalment. I can’t complain caus it rocks but i think number 2 could be bigger on every level (as it should ) .

  30. The Blu-Ray edition of Iron Man is also very well done.  Loved every minute of the HD quality and the sound is just amazing.  Looking forward to the next Marvel movie installment.

    ps.

    I’m also glad they cut the dubai scenes out of the movie, really didn’t contribute to the main part of the story – ‘I am Iron Man"