Cal's review of
Ironman (2008)

I give it an A. The best superhero movie made so far. Better than Spiderman 1 or X-Men 2 or Dark Knight.

Two simple reasons why it was the best comic book movie ever.

1. Stick to your demographics.
The movie was for young males. Not for women and not for children, just like comic books are. There were no Ewoks and no Jar Jar Binks. Tony Stark's robot helpers were a little like other movie robots (ie. R2D2 and Short Circuit) but not too childish. Likewise, there was no forced love story for the women viewer. When Tony and Pepper were dancing I was praying, "Please don't kiss her." Although, the 1960-70's Ironman always had some romance between those two characters I did not want Hollywood to shove a boy-meets-girl storyline down my throat. When Hollywood made the new Batman have a girlfriend I thought it was a sad trend that would never end. It was good to see Tony Stark NOT fall in love. The movie was about the beginnings of a superhero and him fighting badguys.

2. Stick to the comic book history.
The movie had very little Hollywood rewrite. Of course, some things had to change. In the 1960's America was fighting Vietcong. But this is 2008, so it was natural to switch it to Middle East terrorists. Despite this, nearly everything else was accurate to the original creation of Ironman. Tony Stark is overseas demonstrating a new weapon. He is injured and captured. With the help of another captive, an older professor-type captive, he builds a crude suit of armor to facilitate their escape. Just like in the comic, his helper sacrifices himself to give Tony Stark the necessary time to power up his armor. In the end, the crude Ironman destroys the enemy camp, just like he did in 1964. Then makes it back to America to build a better Ironman.
Robert Downey Jr. made a great Tony Stark. Drinking, chasing women, late for meetings, and a mechanical engineering genius. He was really believable as Tony Stark. Far better than Tom Cruise could have done. I hope Cruise is crying, "coulda, woulda, shoulda." And Paltrow made a good Pepper. Reserved. Not too beautiful or too sexy.

It was nice to see Ironman make mistakes. Like with Spiderman 1 and FF1, the heroes need to learn how to fly and fight and so on. The old comic books always had their heroes too skilled too early.

Although it was a deviation, I liked how Tony started out using palm repulsers for flight stability, and then realizing they could be a weapon. Ironman's repulser rays were always his main weapon.

The comic book Ironman has his power supply in these disks on his hips. The movie had it in Tony's chest/heart. This was kind of a good thing because it made him vulnerable. That was something I missed in the new Ironman comics. You see, in the old Ironman comics he was always running low on power and if his power stopped, then his heart would stop. He was the only superhero on the verge of death nearly every comic. But in the 1990s Tony Stark got a heart transplant (or pacemaker, I'm not sure) and his armor got really strong, and Ironman became nearly invincible. Putting the power source in his chest made him vulnerable again.

I think Jeff Bridges made a good villain. He was truly likeable in the beginning and his evil side was a suprise (or would have been to people that don't read Ironman). I love it when a nice movie star can make the transition to villain. Although Obidia Stane was always a competitor of Stark's in the comics, making him a friend and mentor did not ruin it for me. It fit the classic Ironman story: someone trying to take the Stark company away from Tony. One point in the movie were I grimmaced and said, "Please, don't do it" was when Obidia took Tony's heart/power source. I thought they'd have Obidia say he killed Tony's mom and dad or some shit like that. Thank goodness he didn't. Because that is classic Hollywood crapola. Right outta Tomb Raider 1, Spiderman 3, Daredevil, or Michael Keeton's Batman where the main villain must be the killer of the hero's father (or mother, or both). And Bridges didn't say, "I'm star, dammit, I'm not gonna shave my head."

My favorite lines in the movie.

"I do everything Mr. Stark asks of me. Including taking out the trash." Pepper Potts.

"Tony Stark built this in a cave, out of scrap!" Obidia Stane.

Minor misses:

Product placement: Audi, Burger King, that NY pizza company.

I wanna see a different villain, not Ironman fighting a bigger Ironman. Mandarin, Unicorn, Melter, Controller, Living Laser, Whiplash, anyone. I suppose the next movie will have this. But hopefully, not the Freak. We don't need another reluctant villain.

What was the name of that SHIELD agent? Who the hell was he? why couldn't they have ole Jasper Sitwell. He was the best. Always trying to rein in Tony. Or fighten over a girl with Tony. Or saving an unconsious Ironman. Meanwhile saying how he was the best junior SHIELD agent ever. Jasper was a great pain-in-the-ass character.
A little off comic history was the Jim Rhodes character. Rhodes was ex-military and always on Tony's side.

Pepper saying, "You are all I have too." Is she an orphan too? Nearly every superhero is an orphan: Superman, Batman, Robin, Spiderman, Daredevil, Wolverine, the list goes on. Even the supervillains are orphans: Lex Luthor, Dr Doom, Magneto. What the hell? Now the supporting cast are all orphans too?

Even more off was Jarvis. I guess they thought a comic book Jarvis would be too much like Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred.

I didn't like Ironman losing his helmet in the end. It follows a bad Hollywood trend, you know, like when Hollywood stars never wear their helmet in war movies. They did this in FF2 (Dr Doom would never be without his mask). The worst of all time was Stallone in Judge Dredd.

The worst part of the movie for me was the ending where he declares he is Iron Man. They seem to be going down the Ultimates route, especially with the black and bald Nick Fury. In addition, I didn't like seeing Tony "find god" so soon. Stark was always been a military supplier. He has never been a saint? I wanna see Tony Stark hide his hero identity behind a drunken womanizer persona. Which would take us into the great 1980's "Demon in a bottle" storyline where Tony must confront his alcoholism. I hope the next movies can tell that story.

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