Iron Man (2008): Changing the Merchant of War

Iron Man

“Iron Man,” is the first of the Disney Marvel Franchise that I ever saw…though technically this does pre-dates Disney buying Marvel Studios but I’m still including it in the Disney Marvel Adventure since it falls under that umbrella even if the first “Iron Man” does pre-date it. At the time it was a favorite and it still stands up to being a favorite to this day. Robert Downey Jr. is the quintessential Tony Stark in temperament and charisma and who really elevates the film further. We now continue the Disney Marvel Franchise Adventure with “Iron Man (2008).”

The premise of “Iron Man,” adds dimension to Tony Stark’s character since when we first meet him he is a selfish playboy obsessed with work. What changes things is when a terrorist group named The Ten Rings kidnaps him and working with Dr. Yinsen and builds the first Iron Man suit to get out. From here the story unfolds as Tony is changed radically by the events of his captivity.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Pros: The Soundtrack – The music is a lot better than “Captain America: The First Avenger,” it is tense and exciting and captures the tech. feel of Tony Stark.

Pepper Pots – Gwyneth Paltrow does an excellent job as Pepper Pots. She is Tony’s assistant and somewhat love interest in this film but more than either of these she is his friend. We see it in her worry and risking herself to find out about Obadiah Stane’s plot and that he was behind the Ten Rings capture of Tony Stark.

Coloney “Rhodey” Rhodes – “Rhodey” also functions as Tony’s moral compass akin to Pepper Pots at the beginning of the film. Terrance Howard does an excellent job, and i wish there had been some way for him to stay throughout the other two films. He is calm compared to Tony’s erratic energy and anxious adding an interesting character dynamic.

Tony’s Robots/Tech – Tony’s Robots are great comedic relief throughout the film since he gave them personality…such as the one that sprays him with water after every test even when their isn’t a fire. J.A.R.V.I.S. is also something this Tony would make as well his Iron Man suits. There is a conservative sleekness to it all.

J.A.R.V.I.S. – Paul Bettany does a great job as the A.I. that runs Tony’s home and suit. He is calm and witty like the butler who inspired the character.

Dr. Yinsen – Is great as Tony’s moral compass in the cave. He is the one who motivates him to build the suit and do something with his life, as well as see what his weapons are being used for. His death actually means something…

Tony Stark/Iron Man – Tony Stark is the main character in this film, though Iron Man makes appearances from about halfway through onward…not including the early Iron Man suit. We see a narcissist who takes everyone for granted and doesn’t care about the damage his industry did…to a man trying to bring down the evils of his company. It is a great arc represented in his creation of an ARC reactor heart…he is the metaphorical Tin Man. His chemistry with others both before and after his change is fantastic and Robert Downey Jr. owns this role.

Obadiah Stane – Jeff Bridges does a good job of being the two-faced partner of Tony Stark. He is Jeff Bridges so even when he is being evil he still has charisma. The film is really a reveal of how he is putting money from weapons over people and disregards his partnership. We don’t have enough time with him as the Iron Monger and his Iron Monger is big and stupid…wish they’d gone with a different design and made it more Stane like…it is Tony’s stolen tech…it isn’t really Obadiah’s. He at least does a good job at the end though with stealing Tony’s heart to power his machine and causing Tony to be at much weaker power. Stane’s destruction is rewarding.

The Message – You can’t ethically sell in the weapons industry seems to be the help. It is like “Apocalypse Now,” that way…but in reverse. Tony is the one defending weapons to destroying his weapons as he sees the villages and people destroyed. This become a metaphor for the individual as Tony seeks to reform himself in how heartless he has been towards others. Ending with him coming forward as Iron Man.

The Reveal – We meet Nick Fury at the end who mentions the Avengers Initiative to Tony which ties into Agent Coulson’s presence throughout the film. Coulson is alright, it is more what he represents and means later that makes his cameo in this (as well as Nick Fury’s) a pro.

Okay: The Cinematography – There are some scenes that aren’t that good due to scatter shot. The shots don’t elevate or have a unique feel to them. They feel generic.

Raza – Played by Faran Tahir…I wish this guy had gotten an Iron Man suit. He is the one who kills Yinsen and the reason Tony needs the ARC reactor to live. The problem is he has very little agency and in the end is a less than impressive Dragon since Stane kills him.

The 3rd Act – The 3rd act is pretty weak. Obadiah isn’t even trying to be nice anymore and goes outright bad, which hurts what character was there. The final battle elevates it so it isn’t a con, as does S.H.E.I.L.D.’s presence. At this point Tony’s arc is done so it is just a big villain fight with no lead-up or investment in the Iron Monger. Which is a pretty common pattern in the Iron Man films in regards to the baddies.

“Iron Man,” is a solidly good film, with a good moral point that I would recommend. It is worth it to see Robert Downey Jr. play a role he owns so well alone. His character arc also feels real and you see him change so radically in his escape from the cave. There is a reason he probably the most memorable of the Avengers…and I can’t wait to get to his other films.

Final score is 9.3 / 10. A solidly great film.

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One thought on “Iron Man (2008): Changing the Merchant of War

  1. Pingback: Top 5 Films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe | cameronmoviesandtv

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