Iron Man


Rating 2

Directed by Jon Favreau

Written by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway – based on characters created by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby

Starring Robert Downey Jr, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Leslie Bibb, Faran Tahir, Shaun Toub and Sayed Badreya

Tony Stark is a genius weapons-manufacture industrialist. He is also arrogant, hedonistic, wilful and unreliable. During a US military sponsored visit to Afghanistan, the vehicle he is travelling in is attacked, using weapons manufactured by Stark Industries, and he is captured by rebel forces. They take him to their hideout, a labyrinth of caves in the desert, where he is tortured and put to work, building a new weapon. He tricks them and builds a weapon-heavy suit of body armour, which he uses to escape. On his return to America, he announces that his company will cease all weapons development and manufacture, creating conflict with his business partner Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), but also begins to work on a secret project to perfect the body armour, which he then uses to attack the rebel forces that first captured him.


‘Iron Man’ is based on a Marvel Comics character that first appeared in 1963. The film, which had a production budget of $140 million, premiered in America in May 2008 and was greeted with rave reviews by nearly all film critics. It has a 93% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes from 222 reviews. It went on to gross just under $582 million at the box office.

The film is well made and the special effects are impressive. It has a strong cast and Robert Downey Jr, who I think is probably the best American film actor of his generation, is effective in the lead role. Jeff Bridges is another highly accomplished actor, although his supporting role here does not give him a great deal of opportunity to shine. Gwyneth Paltrow is uninteresting in the role of Pepper Potts, Stark’s personal assistant, although I should perhaps mention that I find her uninteresting in most things, so undoubtedly my reaction is not entirely specific to this particular performance.

I am not a comic book aficionado and generally speaking I do not find comic book adaptations especially interesting. ‘Iron Man’ is no different. In fact, I found it somewhat tedious. More so than that, I thought it was offensive. The message does not seem to be that the morality of weapons development and the weapons industry is, at best, highly questionable, but that the only real worry is that weapons get into the hands of the wrong people. What I took away from the film was the message that weapons developed for use by the American military to use to kill people of their choosing is perfectly acceptable, just as long as it stays that way. The suggestion in the film, seemingly a device intended to put us on the side of Stark and America, that the rebel forces will stop at nothing, including torture, to get what they want is quite stunning in its hyprocrisy However, judging by the response of critics, and not just American critics, I am clearly in a minority in taking offence to this and not liking the film.

A sequel, once again directed by Jon Favreau, whose previous films include the Will Ferrell comedy ‘Elf’, is planned for release in 2010.

Review posted 8 January 2009


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