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Iron Man Review – This Is How to Make a Comic Book Movie

Iron Man Review – This Is How to Make a Comic Book Movie” width=”560″/>

With Iron Man, Marvel Studios has quite literally thrown down the gauntlet: This is Iron Man; this is Marvel; and this is how to make a comic book movie. No movie before this — not Spider-Man , not Batman Begins  — has ever captured the vital components necessary to translate a four-color story into film as well as Jon Favreau now does in this masterful adaptation.

Granted, Favreau has a massive secret weapon on his side in Robert Downey Jr. But for the first time in history, a character has literally walked off the comic book page and onto the big screen. Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne came close, but Robert Downey Jr. is millionaire playboy Tony Stark come to life, right down to the devilish goatee and devilish wit.

He’s not alone. Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts is radiant. Jeff Bridges is delightfully evil as Obidiah Stane. And Terrence Howard as Jim Rhodes is… Well, Howard doesn’t get a whole lot to do but mope and whine, but he does get to deliver the movie’s best line.

The second thing that Marvel gets right is building Iron Man into a big screen Marvel Universe. This is the first film produced independently by the studio and the creative team has used the film to seed ideas for future movies. And not just ones involving Iron Man. Iron Man’s arch-enemy, the Mandarin, shows up, but has yet to possess his deadly rings. There’s also a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo by the Black Widow (in the casino) and the build-up of S.H.I.E.L.D. as in international task-force.

Marvel also knew what changes to make: Tony Stark is now captured in Afghanistan, instead of Vietnam, which ties his story to the current war on terror, and provides a sharp contrast to his high life in Malibu. The biggest, and most delightful update, though, is turning Jarvis, Stark’s butler, into a computer program. It makes sense that a genius like Stark would create an A.I. that does double duty running his house and his armor; it also eliminates any comparisons to a certain Dark Knight and his ever-faithful servant. 

This is not to say that the movie is perfect. The first act outshines anything that comes after in narrative pacing, emotional depth, and even it cinematographic palette. And Favreau’s technique of letting the actors improvise dialogue, after working in casual scenes, falls flat in the final battle. Plus, let’s be fair… There’s not a whole lot of things Iron Man can do beyond shoot and fly.

That being said, Favreau and company have laid the blueprint, not just for the Marvel movies to come, but for every Superhero movie of the future. If The Incredible Hulk gets even half of what Iron Man did right, then I would say we’re about to get into a renaissance of comic book cinema.

Oh, and one final note: The scene you’ve heard might be after the credits is, in fact, there and is worth waiting for. Bring it on, Marvel. Bring it on.

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