Main cast: Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Terrence Howard (Rhodey), Leslie Bibb (Christine Everhart), and Jeff Bridges (Obadiah Stone)
Director: Jon Favreau
Maybe it’s because my expectations have been led too high by the good reviews of this movie, but I end up being very disappointed by how… infantile, sigh, Iron Man turns out to be. The characters are one-dimensional, the storyline is too predictable, and the whole thing feels more like a hammy cartoon than anything else.
Perhaps I’m a killjoy, but I also find myself sympathizing with Obadiah Stone, the designated “bad corporate shark” character in this story. Here we have Tony Stark, our hero, who spends his time sleeping with floozies and paying little attention to boring things like responsibility and deadlines, while Obadiah is always the one to clean up his mess. In fact, when Tony’s father died, Obadiah was the one who kept the family business – the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction – together… until Tony decides that he would like to become the boss and then spends his subsequent time missing important meetings and deadlines because those things are “boring”. Can I honestly blame Obadiah for being furious?
In this movie, Tony is horrified when he is captured by some Acme Terrorists and realizes that his weapons of mass destruction are being used by these terrorists for evil. As opposed to, you know, the USA using those weapons for the good of mankind. On top of being a useless waste of flesh, Tony is now also gullible and stupid. Okay, Robert Downey Jr is always a cute guy and he has an excellent sense of timing when it comes to wry deadpan humor, which makes him an unexpectedly right fit to play this goofy version of Tony Stark. But still, something is wrong with the script when I find myself feeling sorry for Obadiah instead of Tony.
Anyway, Tony has been captured by the most incompetent terrorists in the world. We are talking about terrorists with not just terrible aim (they can’t even hit a man within point blank range), we are talking about terrorists who have a big stack of missiles and bazookas in their camp… and still use puny machine guns that they can’t aim well to shoot at our hero. They also allow our hero enough space and time to create an armored suit to escape. Not that Tony does all of this alone, he has the aid of a disposable secondary character who not only stupidly sacrifices himself for a useless sod, this loser also never stops to wonder why Tony and not he has to be the one to wear that suit. Then again, the underlying message here is that Americans can’t do wrong, so hey, whatever.
So, Tony comes back to America and decides to disband the whole missile-making branch of his company. Hey, it’s easy to decide that love and peace is all that matters when you’re a freaking billionaire. Poor Obadiah is understandably furious. Meanwhile, Tony’s first step in creating a better world is to… no, not donating lots of money to some peacekeeping organization, but to create an improved version of his iron suit, one that comes with a higher capacity for destruction. By this point, my brain has involuntarily shut down completely and I begin singing happy songs inside my head.
Terrence Howard plays the familiar black sidekick, Gwyneth Paltrow is the Harlequin Romance secretary who willingly plays Tony’s doormat all these years because she is secretly in love with him, and Robert Downey Jr just looks happy to be headlining a movie after all those, er, unhappy circumstances he found himself in in the last two years. There is a certain charm in watching Mr Downey letting loose and having fun in a role that he is all wrong for on paper, but he can’t save this movie from its wretchedly uninspired and crappy script.