It's been awhile since I've reviewed a film here, and what better subject than the first blockbuster of the season: Iron Man?
Let me begin by saying that I have always been somewhat ambivalent toward the character, was never a huge fan, take him or leave him, etc. I remember having the Mego action figure in the mid-'70s (as part of a massive collection of Mego action figures), but the '60s animated series was a bit before my time and wasn't nearly as well-syndicated as was Star Trek, Batman and Lost in Space. In my early teens, I was all about Daredevil and the X-Men. Iron Man and The Avengers were off my radar to a great extent. The main gist of this disclaimer is that I'm not a ravening Iron Man fanboy to start with... at least I didn't walk into the theater with my kids this morning as a ravening Iron Man fanboy.
But I sure as hell came out one.
It's not only as good as the reviews, it's better. It is at this point worthy of sharing with Batman Begins the distinction of being the benchmark, the gold standard if you will, of how comic book screen adaptations should be made. An origin story, updated without straying too far from the source material, not too over the heads of the casual audience yet not dumbed down either. A perfect cast for their comic book counterparts, and a director whose strength is getting relaxed, natural and often funny performances from said cast. The film is paced well, has excellent action sequences, drama, a bit of romance and a timely message.
What's even more exciting than the film itself is that it's the first to be produced in-house at Marvel Studios, to be followed next month with The Incredible Hulk, and you can see some serious groundwork being laid for an inclusive continuity - a coherent setting, like the comics, where crossovers are commonplace... [minor spoiler alert] as evidenced by Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. reprising is Tony Stark in the upcoming Incredible Hulk. There is talk of an Avengers film somewhere down the line, and if Marvel Studios continues to pump out quality summer blockbusters like Iron Man (and from first blush, Incredible Hulk), I can totally see it happening.
There are two metric assloads of comic book/fantasy/scifi adaptations coming out this year, including the aforementioned Marvel properties, The Dark Knight, Hellboy II, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull, Narnia: Prince Caspian, and more. It's a great time to be a geek.
Anyway, even if you don't know Iron Man, his 40+ year history in the world of comics and animation, or care about a superbly talented director and cast, if you like a good summer adventure, go check it out on the big screen. You won't be disappointed. It really is as good as they say.