Starring: Robert Downey Jnr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrance Howard
Release: 2 May 2008
IMDB User Rating: 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes User Rating: 91%
I thought I had already written a review of this film (on IMDB that is), so it was a good thing that I have decided to go back and rewatch the Marvel Cinematic Universe films again (if only so I can have a better idea of what had happened previously, especially since the movies seem to reference events from the earlier films on a regular basis) so that I can review some of the films that I have watched in the past, but had not got around to reviewing. Anyway, this is the 'first' film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (though some could argue that the Ang Lee version of the Hulk was actually the first since the events of the Incredible Hulk do seem to come after it, despite there being a number of changes to the Bruce Banner's history) and it certainly has kicked off a craze, with at least two films being released a year, as well as at least two television series.
Anyway, Iron Man literally sets the stage for what is to follows. First of all we have this guy wandering around saying that he is from the 'Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division' which is truncated to the acronym SHIELD at the end of the film. We also have Nick Fury making an appearance indicating that he is looking to start up a group and that Tony Stark isn't the only person around that happens to have super powers (even if those super powers consist entirely of a flying metal suit). It was probably logical to also have Ironman as the first movie since he apparently was the one who initiated the Avengers.
Well, the film is basically about how Tony Stark, a billionaire playboy who happens to run a corporation that develops and sells weapons, becomes Iron Man. The thing is that he is also a playboy, and a tinkerer, which means that he is more interested in building things, and having fun, than actually running the company, which means that the company is doing a lot of things that he doesn't actually know about. However the realisation of who his company is selling weapons to comes to light when he is captured in Afghanistan after demonstrating one of his weapons that he claims to have the capability of stopping a war with one shot. Well, the problem is that when he demonstrates the power of this weapon, the other side want it as well, so they kidnap him to force him to make one.
As well as being about how Iron Man becomes Iron Man, the film is also has an underlying theme about the military industrial complex. He we have a private corporation that years ago assisted the United States to develop a weapon to defeat the Japanese now double dealing – that is selling weapons to both sides in a conflict. It is the idea that the only person who makes money out of a war are the weapons manufacturers, and the longer the war goes on, the more money that they make, which means that it is in their interest for there to be a perpetual war. However, selling to just one side in the war doesn't really help with the profits, especially since one side may have a huge advantage, however selling to both sides means that the odds are evened out, and also that the war is likely to last a lot longer.
As for the villains, you sort of have two – there is the Ten Rings, an organisation that Iron Man is regularly confronting in the comics (and while they are operational in Afghanistan, when I first watched the film I simply thought they were insurgents, or at least Taliban, however this time I realised that they were actually a mercenary force working for the Taliban), and the Iron Monger, who also happens to be Tony Stark's 2IC, who then builds his own Iron Man suit to take on Tony.
As for the film, yep, it's pretty good, and I also picked up a lot more the second time round, which is not surprising since I do have the advantage of having seen many of the other films in the franchise already, so by rewatching them I also pick up a few more things, such as when Rhodey looks at one of the suits and says 'next time' which is flagging the arrival of War Machine in the next instalment. A good movie, pretty enjoyable, and I have to admit that Robert Downey Junior certainly plays the role quite well.
For those who are interested I have written a blog post on the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (if only as an aide de memoire).