This was easily the best superhero movie (that I’ve seen, at least) in the past 15 years, and probably more. And this is primarily for two reasons, ones that I would never really think to associate with a comic book movie (and perhaps that’s the problem?): Robert Downey, Jr., and brilliant writing. First off, this movie is absolutely hilarious. And not in an Underworld sort of way. The dialogue is witty, quick, and, well, just great. Even less funny moments are still very well-scripted—the double-entendre “I know what you’re going through,” delivered by Obadiah Stane when Pepper Potts is looking through his secret computer files springs to mind. Tony Stark’s superintelligent asshole character is wonderful to watch, especially his relationship and continual banter with his secretary, Pepper Potts (played by Gwyneth Paltrow, who is also great, and who I had no idea was in this movie). A lot of his character is the writing, but perhaps even more of it is Robert Downey, Jr. He plays the character with just the right mix of snobbery, humor, and sort of actual feelings. Somehow he manages to be sympathetic even when he is not so himself to anyone else.
Jeff Bridges is also kind of hilarious and over the top as Obadiah Stane, the exec-turned-evil, with a bald head and a beard. Incidentally, I just watched Tron the other night, and I prefer his character in this movie… The other stars of this movie are really the background details. There are so many little things that just make it really entertaining and cool to watch. All of the future tech is wonderfully conceived—the suit is great looking, but that’s not all. In the background, whenever anyone is talking to a computer or on the phone, a screen writes up what they’re saying. Or there are just displays in the back of Stark’s lab that are showing strange but wonderful cross-sections of the suit and the technology. Or the heads-up display of the suit is really cool looking. They apparently hired a futurist to help them with these designs, and it was a good choice on their part. Also technical details that some filmmakers might miss. Like the vapor cloud that forms around Iron Man’s body for a fraction of a second as he passes the sound barrier. Or any number of other things.
The only real flaw in this movie comes in the lsat thrid, when it turns from being something very different (but still a kind of hero movie) to being a classic big brawl with evil enemy superhero pic. This is much less interesting, primarily because it’s less funny, but it’s still done very well for what it is. I’m thinking here of the big battle in Spider-man 3 which was incredibly boring to watch. This is animated (yes, I have to use that verb) wonderfully, and is pretty exciting and entertaining.
So see this movie. Please.
And stay until the end of the credits.