I have been very remiss lately in keeping my journal updated with my non-Who viewings and I apologize for that. I reviewed Iron Man three weeks ago and am only just now commenting on it. Now that the Avengers Phase One is completed I really wanted to go back and take a look at all of the Avengers line of movies and see what I thought of them as a series. First up was Iron Man.
I still really enjoyed the movie. Robert Downey Jr is amazing as Tony Stark. He really brings home the idea that Tony is a self-centered, arrogant jerk but fills him with enough humor and channels it in the right direction so that we're ok with following this guy. This was always going to be the most difficult aspect of doing Tony right. Stark is a control freak. He thinks that because he's a genius he is always right. Downey Jr was both faithful to that and made the role his own. Jeff Bridges was also fantastic as Obadiah Stane. Giving Tony someone with such a connection to both his Iron Man and Tony Stark sides was a stroke of genius on the part of the writers. Anyone whose seen the DVD extras knows that originally this movie was going to feature the Mandarin along with the Crimson Dynamo. I am REALLY HAPPY that they didn't go this route. The two villain thing rarely works and both would have been external threats. While I had hoped that the 10 rings organization would later set up a Mandarin confrontation I was fine with him not appearing in the beginning. After all, his ties to Iron Man's origin was a latter day retcon anyway. He didn't show up for several issues after Iron Man debuted.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts. I really like what she did with the role and in this movie they did the romance and showing that she and Tony are attracted to each other without going over an ethical line. I think that things really went downhill almost immediately once they officially got together but here the relationship is fresh and sparky. I love how she's the one that believes that there's some good in him. I just wish we'd seen more of what he'd done in his earlier life that had given her that feeling. Where were the subtle nods to his humanity before he had his life altering experience in the desert? Also, I love the bit where he compares her helping him with his heart to Operation. For the other supporting roles, I still think that Terrence Howard was the better Jim Rhodes. You just really felt that he and Tony were friends and they had some great interplay. I don't get that from Don Cheadle. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan. Happy doesn't do much in this one but I love the way that Favreau plays him and I think that it's great that he cast himself as Happy because that means that someday he gets to marry Pepper. Of course we also have Agent Coulson who really steals the show with his persistence and his deadpan expression during some very unlikely events.
I thought that the update that they did to the Iron Man mythology was very well done and made very topical to what's going on in the world today. I also really loved seeing Tony actually experiment with the technology. He pieces it together and works out what he can do as the viewers are getting used to this hyper-reality. I also think that the Stan Lee cameo was amazing and it's one of his best to date. Sometimes Stan seems intrusive but certainly not here. I also really liked how they worked in the whole idea of altitude in a way that didn't flag you that it would come up later but made complete sense when it did. All-in-all I thought that it was an excellent and polished work. What makes that even more amazing is that apparently a large part of the most important scenes were improved. You see some of that in the DVD extras.
For me the only major part of this movie that doesn't work is the ending. Revealing that he is Iron Man just opened a can of worms and the other movies have been dealing with it ever since. I'll get to that more when I get to those movies but I feel like part of the problem that the writers have been dealing with is how to do Iron Man without a secret identity because without it, it completely dominates Tony's life and makes all the stuff with his company and personal life really difficult to work with.
The other odd thing that I discovered while reviewing this is that in an odd reversal from how things usually work the DVD version of this movie comes with WAY more extras than the blu-ray. I had bought the Avengers blu-ray set even though I already had Iron Man on DVD. The DVD were a 2-box set with one disc of extras. When Iron Man was later released on blu-ray it was on one blu-ray disc. The blu-ray contains the deleted scenes and a documentary on the history of the Iron Man comic but nothing else. The DVD set has a documentary on the making of the movie as well as quite a few things on the technical side of making the movie as well as some featurettes showing rehearsals and other things. It's all really good stuff and I'm surprised that it wasn't released on the blu-ray version but I've checked Amazon and no other set has ever been offered. The other odd thing is that neither version has a commentary track. That just seems sloppy to me. Even if Favreau didn't want to sit down for a commentary you can usually find someone whether its the writers and producers or some of the actors or the technical people who will do a commentary. For a movie this good I should have been able to listen to someone involved in its making as they watched the movie with me.
Anyhow, I still think that Iron Man remains the second greatest of all the Avengers line of films to date and one of the best comic book related movies ever made. Next up, I'll get to The Incredible Hulk.