Iron Man

 By Shamus May 6, 2008 28 comments

I rarely see movies in the theater because it’s expensive and inconvenient compared to just renting. So I go to see a movie in a theater about once a year. This year it was to see Iron Man, and it was worth it. (Last year I went to see Transformers, and it wasn’t.)

I don’t usually talk about movies here because I have so little to add beyond the binary “I liked it” / “I hated it” sort of thing, and it’s pretty hard to expand that into a full post. I can do armchair tabletop game design, and I’ll analyze the everloving crap out of any videogame you put within arm’s reach, but I am simply a consumer of movies with no illusions of knowing what I’m talking about beyond my own preferences. But Iron Man was so enjoyable that I thought it deserved a few words…

I’m not really sure how the hardcore fans of Iron Man will receive the movie. I’ve never had more than a passing interest in the character, mostly as he crossed over into stories I do follow. I don’t know if they were true to the original characters or followed the established story. I will say that they met the most important goal of making an entertaining flick. We’re getting a lot of superhero movies these days, but about half of them (Hulk, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man 3) end up infuriating fans with their deviations from established canon while at the same time boring the general moviegoer senseless. I don’t know if superhero stories are harder to produce than other kinds of action movies, or if they are just such sure moneymakers that they don’t make the effort, but I’d love it if they could get the hit-to-miss ratio better than 1 in 2.

One thing I’ve noticed about superhero movies is that the worst ones seem to rush through the origin story. They introduce the powers early so we can hurry up and get on with our action movie. But doing this generally means skipping the most crucial parts of character development so they can work in more fighting, and we end up with a boring guy doing exciting stuff. Zero times a million is still zero, and the result ends up being insufferably dull. Iron Man takes its time with the origin, and the payoff is that Tony Stark is an interesting fellow.

One thing I will suggest is that if you see the movie, stay to the end of the credits because at the very end Samuel L. Jackson appears as Nick Fury. The theater was still half full by the time that happened, and there was a lot of applause when that came on screen.

Great fun.

(If you want something a bit more longer and detailed: Alex saw it. Twice.)


20828 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.


  1. Nentuaby says:


    Samuel L.M.F. Jackson as Nick Fury as Samuel L.M.F. Jackson. The circle is complete.


    (The Ultimate version of Nick Fury, which is clearly what they’ve cast here since the main universe version is a grizzled white dude, was very explicitly molded after Jackson. One wonders how long they’ve been planning the Avengers movie.)

  2. MintSkittle says:

    I wasn’t much into Marvel comics when I was a kid, but I did read the first Iron Man comic. I don’t remember all that much about it, except Tony getting captured, the shrapnel thing, and building the suit while in captivity. There was also something about super-magnets, but that didn’t make it to the movie.

    EDIT: When I say super-magnets, I mean one that is powerful enough to repel small rockets.

  3. Deoxy says:

    I’d love it if they could get the hit-to-miss ratio better than 1 in 2.

    Better than 1 in 2?!? 1 in 2 is already much better than the rest of the dreck they spit out, so it seems to be they are already putting the vast majority of their talent effort into these movies just to do as well as they are.

    And, if I could figure out how to use the spoiler blocking stuff, I’d ask how old that particular guy is, if that particular character was modeled on him – he’s holding up pretty darn well, apparently. And yes, that is funny that he is playing, essentially, himself. But then, he’s already been doing that for a long time now, so that’s probably nothing new for him.

    Edit: Small rockets? Bullets would actually be harder (much greater kinetic energy), and it repelled them, too – en masse, no less.

    Edits: Oh, and I haven’t seen this yet, but I’m going to (a rarity)… and my WIFE wants to come see it with me, too, which is also surprising (the previews have apparently been very effective!).

  4. Burning says:

    Definitely a good job with the movie. I think it might qualify for my favorite super hero movie now. I like Tony Stark in the movie much more than I have in the comics I’ve read, and it’s not just because Robert Downy Jr’s beard looks much better than that pencil thin mustache. And they made it so that Iron Man was really Tony Stark in the suit, not a separate character.

  5. Deoxy says:

    OK, rather than a third edit, here’s a new post.

    I dug up something I was reading last week, and it’s got some interesting bits:

    start here: comic book movies scheduled for the next few years

    then here: Avengers movie

    That thread has some other nifty tidbits, too, but those two are the main meat of it.

  6. Nilus says:

    As a die hard Iron Man fan I can say that they nailed the character perfectly. I can’t wait for the sequels.

  7. Yes, there were plenty of winks for the comic fans (I can feel my copy of Iron Man #200 going up in value with every ticket sold), and they did an excellent job of building all the characters. Honestly, the set pieces were the weakest parts of the movie, and even those were pretty great!

    I was having such a good time that I forgot to look for Stan Lee – luckily you can’t miss him.

    I’m told we should stay till the end of Incredible Hulk, as well.

  8. Veylon says:

    I’m not an Iron Man fan, but I enjoyed the movie very much. It wasn’t the greatest movie ever, but it was solid where it needed to be solid and that puts it head and shoulders over most of the other movies out there.

  9. Bogan the Mighty says:

    If what I have been told is true that Marvel is going to have their own production company or whatever then I think that 1 in 2 ratio is going to get a lot better. I was looking on imdb today at random superhero movies that are coming out over the next couple years and something I noticed they have been doing is putting Stan Lee has been listed as a character writer for a majority along with I think a couple other comic writers. I’m not sure if that just means they’re being credited for just making the characters or if they’re actually getting more involved with the movies then they used to. Oh yeah, and Iron Man was awesome.

  10. Jeremiah says:

    I’ve never read the comics, either. Or any comics for that matter, but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I really loved the character of Tony Stark.

    As to the quality, I think I read somewhere that this was the first time that Marvel financed a movie, so they had a lot more control over it and they’re planning to continue that in the future.

    I think I actually managed to miss Stan Lee, though. Which scene was he in?

  11. Martin says:

    I think I actually managed to miss Stan Lee, though. Which scene was he in?

    He was mistaken for Hugh Hefner by Stark during their big party.

  12. Jeremiah says:

    Ah! Clever. I knew something struck me as odd at that scene, but it was so quick I didn’t really have time to register it. Thanks!

  13. Katy says:

    I’ve also seen it twice. I was very pleased with the dialogue in that film; it was much, much better than practically any other comic book hero film and at least on par with some of the best general action films.

  14. AJ Beamish says:

    From what I understand this is the first full-fledged Marvel production. Marvel had full and total control over every aspect of the film’s creation. What screws up a lot of movie adaptations is the bean counters and their cookie cutter formats, most big name movie studios are a bunch of bean counters and advertising “pros”, interspersed with the occasional talent. I’m willing to bet that with Marvel in charge of it’s own celluloid destiny the hit-to-miss ratio will get better.

  15. ArcoJedi says:

    Any time you mention comic book movies, you should keep this link handy – Cracked.com – 8 (Pointless) Laws All Comic Book Movies Follow. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m looking forward to it soon.

  16. Aaron says:

    The script treatment was great for Iron Man, and Jon Favreau did wonders with it. I’m a big fan of Iron Man so I can’t really give an unbiased opinion. What I can say is my wife LOVED it, and she hates comic book movies! Big win for me when I buy it on BluRay mwahahaha :D

  17. Lain says:

    Perhaps some of you remembered, that I confessed before to be am comic-addict.

    Additionally to the arguments above I think, that most comics have a lot of good storiesand characters, which are entertaining in an/two/three/x movie(s). FAr more the average exhausted movie-author is able to fantasize together.

    When you are following some of the comic-series since the nineties (and here and there before) the second generation writers and artists developed a huge amount of all kinds of really good stories far beyond of the fighting good vs evil.

    In short I want to mention the priceworthy series of Daredevil http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daredevil_(Marvel_Comics)

    and I don’t mean the awful movie.

    When you read the development of the character over the years:
    He was the first superhero, who killed ( in the 70′s under Frank Miller, [300, Sin City])
    His secret identity was dicscovered by his worst enemy.
    Most of his beloved get killed. Some of them even stay dead!
    His secret identity was outed in public.
    He went to jail.
    And so on.

    Also, famous writers like Michael Strazinsky (BABYLON 5!!!)
    wrote stories for Spider-Man.

    It was only a matter of time and technology, that Hollywood take a intense look at comic books.

    Spider-Man 3 was in one thing really good: The fighting scenes. It was the first time, that whole streetblocks got crashed in an really good comic-way. That I missed in all the other movies, even and foremost in the Fantastic 4 Movie.

    puuh, I could write an diploma about that.

    Better stop for now…

  18. patrick says:

    Iron Man was a practically flawless hero flick; its makers drop some pretty obvious sequel hints too… i’m thinking the next one should be equally great

  19. Cadamar says:

    It didn’t suck.
    Which coming from me is a glowing review.
    It did have a few glearing plot holes but fewer in total than the Fantastic 4 had in its first 15 minutes.
    If Iron Man lacked for anything it was Iron Man. I really, really, really would’ve liked to see about 20-30 minutes more of Iron Man blowing stuff up and I would’ve made the scene where he puts on the suit take about twice along. Flying around is cool and all, but where a suit of powered armor really shines is on the ground, in daylight, dismanteling an Afgani warlords army or fighting another suit of powered armor (again in daylight, enough with the cheaper-to-make night fight scenes already).
    I would have to say my biggest gripe is with the product placement. Audi’s are awesome cars and that R8 is mega-sexy, but do they have to zoom in on the logo every single time a car is on the screen? Seriously. It’s an Audi. Ok. We can see that. You don’t have to zoom in on the logo every time…

  20. Gahaz says:

    Shamus, i just wanted to share a piece of awful news with you since you took up the 2k anti Securom cause and have no other way of saying hey to ya.

    Seems the PC version of Mass Effect is going to come packed with the same Securom BS activation thing like Bioshock plus a lovely Bonus.

    “The Mass Effect SecuROM annoyance factor may be much more extreme, as the game requires that the owner authenticate the copy every ten days, meaning that an internet connection is required to play the game from the get-go until eternity. In other words, if you paid for your copy of Mass Effect, expect to remind EA’s authentication servers every week and a half that you aren’t stealing it.”
    -Kotaku

    Heres the link to the official statement. This is atrocious, PC gaming is going to be killed by this sort of behavior.

    http://masseffect.bioware.com/forums/viewtopic.html?topic=628724&forum=125

  21. Shamus says:

    Gahaz: Yeah, I saw that a few days ago. It’s actually my noon post tomorrow.

    I came very close to violating my own no-profanity rules when writing that one. Sigh.

  22. Gahaz says:

    Its just sad. I bought a PS3….I can’t handle it anymore, I loved up my wife and splurged and I think thats just going to be it. I was keeping up on the tech to play new PC titles because its where I started but I am done. Being molested by the industry like I was singled out at the airport does not constitute good relations. Guess I’m down to just MMOs on the PC and my bulk of playtime is going to be on Sonys Big Box.

    After I hooked it up I felt a little sad, but when i stuck Uncharted in it and was playing within 3 minutes, offline, I brightened a bit.

  23. ArchU says:

    Will be seeing it with a bunch of friends this Friday. I’m hearing positive reviews so I’m looking forward to it ^_^

  24. Mark says:

    I dunno, a 50% success rate for high budget action films is actually pretty damn good, relatively speaking. I’d say comic book movies are more likely to be good (at least on an entertaining level) than most action movies.

    I shouldn’t say it’s good, because it’s not, but if we’re going to get Hollwood to improve their hit-to-miss ratio, lets get them to do it all around:P

  25. Hal says:

    I think my only complaint with the movie is that you have very little gratification for the climax. What you want is a big robot-on-robot rumble. What you get is Iron Man scrambling around and doing very little fighting. It wasn’t a bad scene per se, but you get the “Unlikely Victory” rather than the triumphant hero bit.

  26. Margaret says:

    I cannot avoid the spoilers. They call to me like the sirens of the sea. And like all who fall under their spell, I die a happy death.

  27. ryanlb says:

    Iron Man was great! Very possibly the best Marvel movie. I’d even go so far as to say I enjoyed it as much as Batman Begins.

    Even if it is a blatant copy of DC’s Steel origin. :D

    Yes, I know it had to be the other way around.

  28. Takkelmaggot says:

    When I was a kid, the only superhero comic I gave a darn about was Iron Man. I followed the various X-Men titles, and could enjoy most of the other books, but the only one I consistently bought was Iron Man.

    Saw the movie last night- loved it.
    They nailed some many things dead-on that I wanted to bounce up and down in my seat for sheer fanjoy.
    When I saw the previews I really didn’t think Downey was up to playing Tony Stark; at any rate, not the Tony Stark I had come to know by the mid 90s- utterly competent and in control, not one to crack jokes and drop pick-up lines.
    Yeah, I got over that inside of ten minutes.

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