Iron man Movie Review
Iron Man, the film that started it all for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it today. This film had a gigantic task. Firstly it had to capture an audience with a hero who at the time wasn’t nearly as popular as other Marvel superstars like Spider-Man or Wolverine. Marvel was able to do this by taking an approach to its film that it would later repeat in its other cinematic masterpieces. The focus was placed on Tony Stark rather than on the superhero of Iron Man. Therein humanizing him for the audience and making him relatable and super likable. Tony Stark billionaire playboy is portrayed as charming and suave. The audience is presented with an individual that they can both be entertained by on the one hand while also feeling somewhat cautious about considering Stark’s irresponsible behaviors. The film’s focus on Stark’s charm is paired with his genius which is on full display as he creates a highly advanced iron man suit while sitting in a cave with only very basic equipment and parts to work with. The opening half hour of the film balances both the irresponsible side of Tony Stark as well as the admirable side. Once Tony does return from captivity obviously changed by his experiences in a war zone the film shifts toward portraying Tony’s ultimate motivation for developing the Iron Man suit which is to make up for the weapons his company has historically manufactured and sold into war zones.
While it’s easy to assume that Tony is working on the suit because he think it’s cool to be a superhero Tony is constantly presented to the audience as a man who, having seen the devastation his company’s weapons can create is determined to change the course of his company and make up for what he now sees as wrongdoing by his own company. It was a smart choice opening the movie in war zone. Following Stark’s character development is centered around his changing from a playboy to a hero with a conscience. The movie ask its audience whether the development of weaponry is smart even if that development is done by actual good guys in a sense. At the time of filming America remained in a war in Afghanistan that seemed to have no end despite heavy weapons development and production. Whether more weapons development can provide a true solution to global problems is somewhat debated here via Tony’s character and how he changes. This is a theme that carries over into Iron Man films as well as the Avengers films but here in Iron Man it reaches its natural conclusion with the development of the Iron Monger warsuit. An adversary than can counter the Iron Man suit and one based on Stark’s own technological breakthroughs.It should also be noted that the movie does all this character and thematic development while doing a fair amount of Marvel Cinematic Universe building and portraying believable, engaging relationships.
The writers of Iron Man set just enough pieces in place, like the presence of Phil Coulson and his position in S.H.I.E.L.D. to indicate that there’s a larger Marvel universe to come. Unlike some future Marvel movies, which became too focused on universe building and setting up new franchises, the original Iron Man never gets too bogged down in trying to portray the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe it belongs to. It’s a case of a little going a long way. The relationships portrayed in the film also take center stage probably occupying as much screen time, or more, than scenes in which Iron Man goes into battle. Tony’s philandering ways put him at odds with his personal assistant Pepper Potts but as he grows and shifts into a more responsible adult, he also finds himself comfortably sliding into a relationship with Potts.
His relationship with best friend Rhodey later to become War Machine moves in a similar direction throughout the film. As Stark continues to develop and assume more responsibility for his past deeds the respect Rhodey has for him grows. It should be noted that Tony’s character, though it shifts with respect to responsibility, never deviates from his portrayal as the cocky, smartest guy in the room. Stark continues to be cocky and slightly insulting, but the degree to which he shows he cares does change. His willingness to invest in the people around him grows alongside his newfound social conscience. As such Iron Man succeeds on multiple levels from a narrative perspective, masterfully weaving relationships, character growth, and world building into one single film. It’s amazing to think that, had Iron Man not been commercially successful there might not be a Marvel Cinematic Universe at all. Had the film failed, it might have put an early end to this grand experiment in the superhero genre.
For writers looking to the film for example of how to succeed, there are many lessons to be taken away. However, the most important is that well developed characters are the key to a successful narrative. Their development over the course of a story not only creates an engaging plot line, but also carries the development of a story’s themes. Lose the character, and you lose the story. This was a prevailing theme set in motion via the comics by Stan Lee.