Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges
Watch Iron Man online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play
God make man. Man discover metal. Man make suit from metal. Man use suit to blow things up. That’s pretty much the plot for Iron Man, and at its most simple, it’s inherently cool.
Years after Marvel began its Cinematic Universe, that remains true of its very first outing, one that set the template for the superhero origins stories to follow – and cemented Robert Downey Jr.’s return to movie stardom. We first meet him as Tony Spark, as he drinks, gambles and shags his way through a carefree existence, somewhat in awe of his apparent genius. But then, out of the blue, Spark is seized by a bald terrorist, presumably bearing a grudge against such a superior male specimen.
With his heart plugged into a car battery, they order him to make them a missile – the kind you only have to fire once. Instead, he builds a giant robot suit and blasts them into tiny pieces. Iron Man is born.
Inside the suit, Downey Jr. is laugh-out-loud entertaining. Boasting a goatee and glowing chest-bulb, he jets around town with an easy charm. The guy even has a rapport with his mechanical lab assistants. Tagging along for the ride is ginger Gwyneth Paltrow, playing loyal secretary Pepper Potts. She’s not too spicy, because the family-friendly tone of this romp is perfectly pitched, but you can’t help but wish she had more to do.
While the pair agonise over their non-romance, Stark’s evil partner Obadiah Stane (the excellently hammy Jeff Bridges) is out for some world domination. He’s bald too. It turns out he’s been selling weapons to the other bald guy. They must have some kind of club. As The Dude mongers war, Tony grapples with the moral conundrum of manufacturing military hardware. Let’s be honest, it’s not quite Lord of War, but director Jon Favreau does a commendable job of trying to layer some depth onto the plot, while demonstrating his action and family movie credentials; at its heart, this is a simple blockbuster, more concerned with blowing stuff up than jumping immediately to Avengers: Civil War territory. “Tony Stark built this in a cave!” yells our cheesy villain. Damn right, he did – it’s completely ridiculous, but in the best sense of the word. And with such a well-cast lead, this shallow no-brainer remains great fun – and, as a sign of its lasting success, still leaves you ready for a sequel.
Iron Man is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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