DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau
May Contain Spoilers!
2008 saw the first wave of the Marvel films in the build up to this years Avengers mash-up. This, along side The Incredible Hulk, would kick-start the four-year project and introduce some of the lesser known and less bankable characters, such as Iron Man, Thor, Hulk (Reboot) and controversially named, Captain America.
Iron Man had a major obstacle in its path, and that was Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begin’s sequel, The Dark Knight. But not so much in box office terms, rather in genre and tone. The Dark Knight is, if not THE benchmark in comic book adaptations in the sense that it presents, along with its predecessor, a more plausible and “realist” or grounded take on the genre whilst Iron Man and Marvel’s new wave, as it were, offer the serialisation and long anticipated crossovers. Marvel now make their films as if they were comics, crafting the universe rather than a tight narrative.
So, Iron Man, for all it’s flash and thunder, is handicapped by being a film of a series and would only be a one-off if it had failed. Well, it didn’t. The tone seemed to work well with Marvel fans, but I was less convinced, certainly at the time, with Nolan casting a long shadow over the comic book world. The story is pretty tight though and nicely explains, were possible, the evolution of Stark the industrialist to Stark the robotic superhero.
But there’s no doubt that Robert Downey Jr. is excellent as Stark/Iron Man, and is possibly the best thing about the film. The movie’s tone is light, with nods to serious matters but quite rightly choosing to move on without too much ponderousness. Again, a method supported by Downy Jr’s light tough to the playboy, who’s hyperactive irresponsible attitude keeps the humour flowing and the plot moving.
But so far, this is the best of the Marvel films, with the exception of Ang Lee’s Hulk from 2003, a film which is criminally no longer cannon anyway, but the casting of Robert Downy Jr. was definitely a coup from Director, Favreau, let alone Jeff Bridges as the mentor/villain, and it’s along with Favreau’s sharp direction and top casting has given The Avengers Initiative a strong start…