By Fred Topel | Image property of Paramount Pictures
My favorite part of Iron Man was the flashback. They have the perfect opening that tells you everything about Tony Stark to get the ball rolling. Then they flash back for 15 minutes to go back over all the backstory, including a biographical video and novelty magazine covers. I can't believe even f*cking Iron Man resorted to this device. YOU HAD THE PERFECT OPENING. WE ALREADY GOT IT.
Review: Iron Man
Iron Man is good, but I was out of it until we caught back up to the story, no matter how cool his toys were or how funny his banter was. I don't think it's a spoiler to reveal that the narrative used a flashback construction, but if I violated some spoiler rules, sorry.
It is a fantastic opening. Right away the film achieves intensity without graphic violence. You know he's in trouble because guys are dying before you can even tell what's happening. You don't have to see blood or bodies to get that. Once it gets back to that story, it continues in such fashion.
I actually think Iron Man has the most interesting origin story of all because it's active. There's no spider bite or radiation or bat flying through the window. He makes himself. That's a guy I can relate to.
The action balances the intensity of an unstoppable mass with the intimacy of little impediments and gags. It still employs basic suspense too. The classics still work. This is real too. They address personal maintenance in a scene that makes you cringe more than a needle shot.
I wasn't as won over by the theme of Iron Man. If it's that he's trying to use his technology for good, eh. Lot of people try to change. Plus, once he's decided, he's decided. There's no inner turmoil about it. He has to face his company, who doesn't like the idea of ceasing weapons production. That may make it more difficult for him, but it's still a linear arc. It's challenging, but not quite Spider-Man or even Batman, who's dealing with serious personality issues.
One thing the film seems to say is that there's nothing to do unless there are bad guys to fight. That's something. He can try all he wants to do good, but his only real use is to stop bad guys. There are other hints of potential, like the politics of a vigilante fighting terrorists. Keeping technology from evil will always be an issue.
All the building scenes are fun. Iron Man actually gets away with doing a whole film that's the first act of Spider-Man. It's all the joy of discovery. It's witty too. The dialogue is like House, forwarding the plot but never directly reciting exposition. The villain still monologues, but Jeff Bridges is so real he can handle it.
There are perfect hints for sequel character arcs, and Iron Man 2 may actually be what people think Spider-Man 2 is. Iron Man is what Spider-Man 2 actually is, just sort of repeating something but not quite dealing with it.