As far as this year’s blockbuster movies go, Iron Man has already set the standard, and has set it higher than Iron Man can fly.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Junior), a technological genius who inherited an advanced weaponry company founded by his father and his friend Obadiah Stane (an unrecognisable Jeff Bridges), finds himself kidnapped by Afghan insurgents and ordered to build them his latest weapon, the Jericho.
Instead, following an attack in which he was almost blown up by one of his own weapons, he builds himself an artificial heart, capitalising on a design by his temporary helper, Yinsen, to keep him alive. He then builds the prototype of what will become his Iron Man suit in a bid to escape.
Initially it looks like a home-made Cyberman, but it does the job. However it crash-lands in the desert, leaving behind a nice jigsaw puzzle for his kidnappers, led by the mono-named Raza.
Stark, meanwhile, has been rescued and is safely back in his Los Angeles home - however its cliff top location with a sea-view does not look quite so safe - , although his three month disappearance has been quite a headache for the company and the security services. Stark’s extravagant, playboy lifestyle is well documented in the press, and his absence from the social scene has caused quite a stir.
Having seen that his weapons are being used to kill the people they were meant to protect, Stark disassociates himself from Stark Industries, and commits himself to developing his suit. After a few minor hiccups like decimating his expensive car collection, and some amusing encounters with a fire extinguisher, he perfects his design.
Cue some very large explosions, and an edge-of-the-seat rendezvous with two US F-22 fighter planes over Afghan airspace.
By now Raza has pieced together the original suit, and is poised to benefit enormously from the design plans by trading them to…Stark Industries.
Downey Junior, looking like a young Al Pacino, plays Stark as s a flawed, yet likeable, anti-hero. Iron Man is sure to be his stepping stone back into mainstream film, and he has made a welcome return
Gwyneth Paltrow was well cast as Pepper Potts, the Miss Moneypenny-like secretary to Tony Stark’s Caractacus. He had even built a car that looked like the bad-ass lovechild of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Batmobile.
Iron Man is a movie low on clichéd superhero antics. Indeed it takes a rather long time before Stark has even built the prototype. However given the unique lead-in to the creation of the superhero, and current events in the Middle East, it is far from the long trudge one would expect.
The script is full of witty one-liners, and director Jon Favreau creates many exciting, comic book-like shots and action sequences.
However I was surprised to see Stark driving an Audi R8, a car with fairy-light style headlights which Jeremy Clarkson once described as looking like a “council house at Christmas”. Other than that, the technology and the machines featured were as impressive as the movie itself.