When it comes to the action-packed world of superheroes, Batman and Superman are generally the first names that come to the minds of comic book enthusiasts. If one were to ponder the long roster of colorful tight-wearing heroes, perhaps Spider-Man, along with his green friend, The Incredible Hulk may float through the minds of others.
Superheroes are a dime a dozen and with Marvel Comics and DC Comics competing to place as many of their beloved properties on the silver screen, Marvel has reached within its ever-growing vault to pull out a superhero whose name generally does not get mentioned first.
Iron Man was created by mastermind Stan Lee and first appeared within the pages of Tales of Suspense # 39 back in March 1963 according to the Marvel Dictionary. Now over forty years later, the hero known by fan boys for his technologically advanced bodysuit is on the big screen kicking off the first of Marvel Studios independently financed motion pictures.
Directed by writer-actor Jon Favreau, Iron Man features an all star cast consisting of Academy Award winner Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, Terrance Howard as his friend Lt. Colonel James Rhodes, along with Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane, the top executive of Stark Industries, and Academy-Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia “Pepper” Potts, Tony Stark’s personal assistant.
The movie adaptation of the comic book centers on Downey’s Stark, who inherited his father’s highly profitable industrial company after he died. Stark Industries, which is known throughout the Marvel universe for its weapons division, is also fictionally known throughout the globe and has attracted the attention of a renegade group of soldiers within Afghanistan. When Stark arrives in the country to test out one of his creations, he is captured by the soldiers and forced to construct weapons for their own sinister purposes.
However, by fooling his menacing captors, Stark instead assembles a suit made of iron and blasts his way to safety. Back in the states, Stark decides his ultramodern weapons shouldn’t be in the hands of anyone and builds another metallic suit – this one streamlined and stylish – to retrieve his weapons and pull them off the market for good.
Aside from the pulse-pounding action sequences and nifty CGI effects, the joy of Marvel’s Iron Man comes from its cast. All four individuals do marvelous jobs in their roles – pardon the pun – and exude chemistry with each that isn’t dull or forced.
Downey plays Tony Stark like nobody’s business and is able to project an arrogance and cool cockiness that somehow makes his character likeable. Paltrow can do more with a glance than some actresses can do in a lifetime. Howard does absolutely fantastic in his supporting role and Bridges proves to be as menacing as Darth Vader.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the movie has already broken records with a $98.6 million dollar opening during its first weekend. Marvel Studios has already commissioned a sequel set for 2010 with the principal characters returning.
Despite the fact that Iron Man isn’t a name most superhero aficionados would think of off the bat, the movie proves to be enjoyable, exhilarating, and above all very exuberant.
And that’s enough to put the hero at the top of the superhero roster.