Obadiah Stane: TONY STARK WAS ABLE TO BUILD THIS IN A CAVE…WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Way back in 2008 we got the Marvel movie that changed Marvel movies forever and started an entire cinematic universe. And although we have come a long in the past decade this movie this movie still is capable of being held up next to the behemoth movies not only because it’s the one that started it all but also because the best traits of it have carried through the building of this universe.
The story involves arrogant, obsessed, and playboy billionare owner of Stark Industries, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) who creates weapons of mass destruction. A terrorist group known as the Ten Rings kidnaps and forces Stark to make a weapon for them in exchange for his freedom. While there he befriends another kidnapped technician named Yinsen (Shaun Toub) and together they build a weapon to bust out of there. After creating a suit and escaping he decides to no longer create weapons but rather create his Iron Man suits in order to save people wherever he can. However his right hand man Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) is not pleased with Stark’s decisions and creates his own suit to take on Stark.
The story for Iron Man is something largely character driven and does well in carrying the movie. He sees first hand what his weapons can be in the hands of terrorists he realizes no good can come from creating weapons if the enemy can be his customer and decides to turn over a new leaf. Stark’s development from this point onwards is handled very well in attempt to do so while keeping similar traits so that he doesn’t feel like an entirely different person and give a light-hearted comedic feel to it. This works in showing just how human Tony can be and have a good sense of morals. This carries through to his relationship to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) in that he views her as far more than just a mere assistant. It also has a commentary on war in that even if intentions are noble to help out the good guys no good can come from creating things with the sole purpose to destroy. The ending of the movie not only started something new with the prospect of the Avengers Initiative but also with Tony Stark revealing his secret identity to the world. These are aspects that very much pushed the envelope of what you could do with superheroes.
The core of this movie is Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. This was the ultimate comeback performance for him given his shaky past. The rest of the cast establishes their characters quite well and gave a taste of what would come in the future but this movie would not be nearly as good as it is if not for him. He always has a great one-liner and he can make the simplest of words sound like a funny one-liner. On top of that he makes the character of Tony Stark likable. Even though he’s full of himself, a womanizer, and a drunk he’s a brilliant mind utilizing almost any tool given to him to build the technology. His need to do good given his past drives him. Stark has remained the same over the course of the subsequent movies but has channeled the best of his traits to becoming a better man and making the right choices depending on the situation. He’s the perfect example of what’s to be despised and admired about millionaires. Throughout the MCU, Stark mostly leans on the admiring side, also gives some touches of the unlikable making him a complex character.
The main aspect of what most people look forward to when it comes to superhero movies is the action. It looks cool when Stark suits up, flies around, and beats up bad guys. It has some good intensity and pacing to match. But in comparison to how well the movie humanized the title character none of the action scenes stand out alone.
Although the movie is over a decade old the visual effects are still great. Though most of it is done on the machinery which is easy to do it still contributes to the action to keep the viewer invested in the world the movie has provided and keeps it from being horrible.
The movie’s biggest flaw is the villain and sadly it would be a while before MCU villains could actually be all that they could be. Performance-wise Jeff Bridges does amazing in giving Stane a mix of friendliness and slyness. But the writing for him is mostly cliché with him being a business partner all about creating weapons to the point that he was collaborating with the Ten Rings. Particularly when he dons the suit, in the climax and goes after Pepper he mostly comes off as a video game antagonist (with dialogue on the same length).
Iron Man not only supplies some good action and visuals but also an interesting character defined not only by himself but those around him with good comedy to match. It works as a great start to the MCU and just a fan looking for an enjoyable action flick. Though not a legendary movie in itself, it’s an important movie in modern cinema history. Given its greatest aspects, it paved the way for Marvel to reshape the superhero genre in ways that many would never have seen coming back when this movie came out. It gave us a story to get invested, gave big prospects for the future, and followed through on those prospects making Marvel a pioneer of modern superhero movies and by extension a superhero universe.