Ultimate 2-Disc Edition
Directed by Jon Favreau
Starring Robert Downey Jr, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard
Paramount Home Entertainment
Release date: September 30, 2008
Before The Dark Knight came along in July, Iron Man was the big box office hit of the summer and the new superhero film favorite of the masses — and with good reason. Director Jon Favreau took a long-time Marvel superhero who was little known to the general public and made him a household name. But while Favreau directing prowess got this project off the ground, it’s doubtful that audiences would have embraced the film without Robert Downey Jr.‘s charismatic portrayal of billionaire playboy/engineering genius Tony Stark, who dons his high-tech suit of armor to become the superhero Iron Man.
Unlike with The Incredible Hulk — another of this summer’s Marvel superhero flicks — Iron Man allows the audience to get to know its hero and fall in love with his human side before the superhero aspects come into being. Iron Man introduces us to weapons manufacturer Tony Stark: he’s handsome, he’s rich, he’s charming, and he’s funny as hell; the ladies love him and he sure does love the ladies. Stark’s confidence is alluring, so even when he’s gravely injured and abducted by hostile Afghani terrorists during a product pitch to the U.S. military, he’s never looked upon as a victim (the way Edward Norton’s Dr. Bruce Banner is in The Incredible Hulk). You know with an attitude like his, Stark is bound to not only find a way out of his dire situation, but also turn it to his advantage.
It’s during his captivity in Afghanistan, where Stark’s captors are forcing him to build them a missile, that the resourceful prodigy constructs a weapon of his own to aid in his escape — a crude, bulky gray suit of armor, a precursor to his classic red-and-gold high-tech suit. Seeing what this man can build from scraps in a cave is an indication of his potential to create the gear necessary to become the powerful Iron Man.
Seeing that the weapons he’s created to protect his country are now being used to against the United States, once back in the States, Stark declares that he’s giving up weapons manufacturing, much to the dismay of his Stark Industries right-hand man Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), who’s main concerns are power and money.
A lot of the interesting and humorous scenes in the film are of Stark in his workshop constructing and testing the various Iron Man suits. After working on this secret project in seclusion for so long, Stark realizes that his public image is on shaky ground and that he no longer knows who he can trust. That’s when we finally begin to learn who his true enemies are.
Having such an invincible superhero who can defeat any ordinary adversary can be quite boring, but even the most powerful of beings always has a weakness. In this origin tale, Stark’s requisite Achilles’ Heel is his reliance on the circular electromagnet chest piece preventing a piece of embedded shrapnel from piercing his heart (the shrapnel was lodged into his chest when he sustained the aforementioned injuring when the military convoy he was traveling with was attacked). It’s the exploitation of this weakness that gives Iron Man’s main nemesis a fighting chance against him.
Iron Man not only gives us a superior superhero story, but also a captivating action film that doesn’t rely on quick camera shots and excessive machine-gun fire and explosions, though, there’s plenty of the latter to satisfy the average action junkie.
Note, just as with the theatrical version, there’s an bonus scene after the end credits, so be sure to check that out.
This 2-disc Ultimate Edition is packed with a tons of extras, includes a lot of deleted/bonus features that really add to the story, though would have probably slowed things down a bit — the theatrical cut of the film really keeps the pace up. But, there’s scenes with Stark working on the Mark II suit, with Stark and Rhodey that go into their friendship, and a party in Dubai. There’s also a featurette on the history of the Iron Man comic book character, as well as screen tests, scene rehearsals, trailers, image galleries, and documentary from Wired on the film’s visual effects.