|Title: Iron Man|
|Genre: Action adventure|
|Director: Jon Favreau|
|Writer: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway|
|Actors: Robert Downey, Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges|
|Series: Movie #1 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One|
Welcome to the MCU Phase One recaps and reviews! Let’s kick it off with the first movie in the Marvel Arsenal, starring one billionaire and arms maker, Tony Stark aka Iron Man. But we knew that already.
When we first meet Tony, it’s him being his usual self: being a charming smartass who every man wants to be, and every woman wants to be with. I just want to check out his R&D lab; you know that man has things in there that’s never seen the light of day.
Tony’s building rapport with the soldiers, travelling in the desert with a suit and a glass of champagne. Just another sweltering day on the job. We get a quick sense of him as a person: a womanizer, almost-politically incorrect yet charming enough to get out of most scrapes. He’s pretty much a superstar, as one of the soldiers in the vehicle readies for a selfie with him. And snerk, a Myspace mention. How 2008.
“Yeah, peace. I love peace. I’d be out of a job with peace,” says the guy who owns a weapons production company.
Peace is literally down for the count, as terrorists proceed tear the place apart. The only survivor? A certain Stark, who’s told to stay in the vehicle for safety. Perhaps not the best place to be when the place’s being attacked. The Starks are a crafty and hardy bunch, and if Tony happens to be related to them, I’m sure he’ll do just fine. Can’t wait to see him charm his way out of this one.
Except, nope. As Tony huddles (sprawls, actually) behind a bunch of rocks, he takes out his phone and starts texting. Really? Not the best idea you’ve had yet.
Then he gets a new visitor: a Stark Industries missile, which, judging from the look of recognition on his face, does not bode well for him. Aw, poor Tony.
To make things worse, he’s caught by the terrorists. Not a very warm welcome, is it.
And BAM! Iron Man title sequence. In case you forgot what you’re watching. (Hey, it happens.)
Flashback to 3 hours earlier, where Tony is living. it. up in Las Vegas as he bails on his own award ceremony. He’s quick on his feet, dodging potentially touchy subjects from reporters. He’s clearly pro-America, pro-profit and pro-weaponry, with Stark Industries being on contract to the US government.
Any mentions of him being an arms dealer to the terrorists is quickly nixed during his interview. (Which is quite ballsy of the reporter to ask–I mean, dude has tonnes of weapons in his arsenal. You don’t want to piss him off.)
I believe Tony when he says that while he’s all for the money, it doesn’t include selling his country out to the enemy. His face when he encountered his own missile in the desert reeked more of surprise and ‘oh crap, I’m gonna die by my own weapon of destruction,’ than resignation and ‘oh crap, I’m gonna die by my own weapon of destruction. I deserve it.’
Next day, we get a view of Tony’s amazing apartment. That tech! And we get our first look at Pepper Potts as she encounters Tony’s new conquest (the reporter from last night)–clearly not an unusual experience for her. The reporter tries being all snotty, implying that Pepper is nothing more than a glorified servant.
Pepper deftly shoots her down. She’s clearly more than capable and knows Stark Industries inside and out–from whether the products and proposals offered were viable or not.
While Pepper is clearly professional enough to take it in her stride, I feel bad that Pepper has to greet Tony’s one night stands, given that she clearly has feelings for him. Would it be different if we weren’t rooting for her as the romantic lead? Probably.
Tony and Pepper have a familiar and friendly rapport, and Pepper proves she’s an equal match for him when it comes to temperament, verbal sparring and thinking ten steps ahead. And on to the weapons presentation that precedes the opening act of this movie:
Oh Tony. So egotistical. I like you like I like an amusing frat boy’s antics, but that is not a good look even for you. I amend what I said, greed is king for Tony Stark as he negotiates the sale of this newest invention as a freebie for only “five hundred million or more.”
Back to the present, as Tony discovers the extent of his injuries. He just so happens to be roomed (caverned?) with an engineering and medical doctoral genius, who’s fixed Tony up as best as he could and made version 1.01 of the Iron Man Heart in Tony’s body. Cue the bad guys’ entrance, as they demand Tony build the Jericho for them. Tony refuses, and after a few rounds of torture, the bad guys show off their newest ‘Stark Industries haul‘ to Tony.
Imagine having to build high-tech gadgets in this bare desert with only the barest of tools? Apparently there’s a functional factory within the depths of the desert. I know. Tony quickly commandeers the bad guys into working for him. Ha.
Tony’s clearly up to no good, but the bad guys are oblivious to his intentions even as they keep him under constant surveillance. A quick montage later, and the miniaturised nuclear arc reactor–or as I call it, the Iron Man Heart V2.0 is ready, complete with a basic draft of the Iron Man costume.
These baddies are really inefficient at their jobs. I don’t know how Tony convinced them to keep out of his quarters, but you’d think they’d keep him under better surveillance.
Talk of family between Tony and his comrade ensues, and my heart twinged for Tony when his comrade told him “So you’re a man who has everything. And nothing.” Aw. Is no one looking for you? You’d think that there would be search parties out for a billionaire lost during a weapons presentation for the government.
An indefinite amount of time passes, long enough for Tony to finish completing the now functioning IMCostume V1.0. One montage, a human faux-JARVIS and several slain baddies later, we get our first look at the all new Iron Man V1.0 and Tony successfully makes his way back home, where a distressed Pepper tries to dampen her obvious distress.
Oh hey, Agent Coulson.
Back home and in his environment, Tony makes quick work of announcing a dismantling of the weapons manufacturing segment of Stark Industries. Given that it’s pretty much all of Stark Industries, it’s not the best of moves, to say the least.
Obadiah is not pleased.
We get several minutes of Tony working on IMCostume V2.0, with the help of program JARVIS, with several gems:
1) Behold Pepper’s face as she stuffs her hand into his chest to replace the removable IMHeart V2.0 with the IMHeartV3.0. Shudder. Couldn’t you have input a USB cable or something, Tony?
2) IMCostume V3.0 is a disaster, crashing into Tony’s many sports cars. *sniffles*
That’s some Person of Interest level of analysis there:
Tony’s best friend, Rhodes, is not amused at the unannounced and unidentified exit and entry of US airspace, sending out fighter jets to check out the commotion.
Oh just, you know, your best friend in a humanoid suit off getting rid of injustice worldwide.
Elsewhere, Obadiah is in… cahoots with the terrorists that captured Tony?! DUDE. I knew your beard was a giveaway.
He’s already taken the salvaged original Iron Man costume to retrofit into a new one, the Iron Monger. Compared to the Iron Man costume that we know and love, this one looks like a piece of junk.
Things are quickly heating up, as Pepper sneaks her way onto Obadiah’s computer and sees the various Plans of Destruction he’s planning. One of which included a plan for Tony’s death. That’s heartless.
She almost gets caught by Obadiah, but quickly regains her composure and manages an escape, informing Coulson of Obadiah’s nefarious plans.
I just wanted to use the word ‘nefarious.’
I don’t think Obadiah’s fooled by her excuses though. Girl, you in trouble.
And bam! Obadiah’s onto them, and he literally grabs Tony’s arc reactor right out of his chest. Shudder. For all his money and his business sense, he doesn’t have Tony’s genius in manufacturing and repurposing things for his own benefit. So he just… steals.
But luckily, Tony’s trophy heart saves the day. It’s painful to watch him crawl and pull himself into the den where the heart is.
Thank God JARVIS was there to lend a mechanical limb.
Time for the showdown between the Iron Man and the Iron Monger. The Iron Monger is rough, bigger and crudely hewn, but the Iron Man has technology and skillz on his side. Unfortunately, what Iron Man has is also the early version of the arc reactor hence he’s quickly overpowered by the Iron Monger.
Just look at the size of that thing!
One ‘drop the Iron Monger into the main Arc Reactor at Stark Industries’ move later, and Pepper effectively saves the day. That’s some teamwork right there.
THOUGHTS: It could be said that the message the film is trying to convey is that greed is bad, and profitability without social accountability is even worse.
That message, however, is buried under layers of unflattering, even racist views. Granted, the Marvel universe is one that is centered on America, but the whole ‘brown people are stereotypical terrorists’ view is a tired approach.
Even Tony’s long time business partner Obadiah, who himself looks Middle-Eastern, happens to be the main antagonist. I don’t know where the director or writers were going with this. Theoretically, I can argue that could be an advantage for him as a seller to approach the terrorists at the start of the film. I’m not going to go too deep into this; after all, we are supposed to focus on Tony’s growth over the span of the movie. In fact, his ego was one of the things that got him into constant trouble, and it took a long fall for him to gain some of his humanity back.
For many reasons, the Iron Man movie is one of my least favourite movies to watch, not just within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sometimes, you just can’t delve too deeply into the creation of the film. Taken as an action adventure movie that is the start of a movie franchise meant to sell multitudes of merchandise, Iron Man is a perfectly enjoyable film.
I did gloss over most of the explosions, but it’s not to the extent of being a Michael Bay film.
Tony and Pepper’s relationship show lots of promise. The two leads do have a familiar chemistry, and Robert Downey Jr.’s bad boy charm is hard to resist. Pepper’s perhaps the only person that Tony trusts in his whole life, if the whole ‘stuffing her hand in through his chest’ is an indicator.
I look forward to seeing more growth in Tony Stark’s character. He’s already emerged a more grounded, compassionate person after his kidnapping, which was buried under layers of smartass and quotable quips.
Iron Man is quite a compelling character on his own–he has no superpowers nor any special training that specially equips him in one way or another to become a superhero. He’s as human as they come, and what he has is a whole lot of smarts that he fully maximizes to continue his family’s legacy, as well as increase his wealth. Admit it: wealth plays a huge part in the creation of Iron Man, as well as funding many of the initiatives that he undertakes in the future, especially as part of the Avengers. New York wouldn’t be able to repair itself without Tony’s reserves. Then again, New York wouldn’t have to repair itself if it wasn’t for Tony’s Iron Man antics…
Up next in the MCU Phase One series: Incredible Hulk, or as I call it, the remake that prompted all the other remakes.