I may be the only person not going ga-ga over IRON MAN. Perhaps it’s simply another case of seeing a film after hearing too much hype. It also may be the simple case of not being the film’s best audience. Unlike many I know, I was never into comics. I had a few, read a handful… I got into HEAVY METAL for a while in my teen years, but that’s a different animal all-together.
But once in a while a movie based on a comic super hero grabs me and takes hold. I loved SPIDERMAN 2. Thought it was one of the best super hero films I’ve ever seen. With one of the best villains. It’s also a super hero I knew a little about having grown up with the cartoon on television. Same goes for BATMAN BEGINS. I knew Batman from the TV show, though I must confess to disliking all the Burton/Schumacher film versions -all style, no substance. I thought the Christopher Nolan retelling of this story mixed with Christian Bale’s portrayal was just terrific. But what’s lacking for me in IRON MAN that is in the other two above-mentioned films, is simply that I cared about the main characters in those films and I don’t much care about anything in IRON MAN. Now I do want to go on record as saying that I don’t think it’s a bad film. Not by any stretch. It may even be better than most of its kind, but the sad truth is most super hero films are just, quite simply put, fairly dimensionless. IRON MAN isn’t dimensionless, but it’s still pretty thin. SPIDEY and BATMAN and even to a lesser extent X-MEN 1 & 2 (I preferred 2), have characters that are dealing with human issues. Not just political issues and global issues of morality, but everyday issues. Granted on a very dramatic scale. And with super villains. But those handful of films captured some part of me that allowed me to care about the characters I was watching, to invest some part of myself in them. That never happened for me in IRON MAN. I love Downey Jr. I think he’s a great actor and, so far as I can tell, an inspired bit of casting here. But he’s not doing anything I haven’t seen from him before. He’s just doing it while wearing a really cool iron suit (okay, gold-titanium alloy). And Jeff Bridges makes an awesome villain while on-screen, but again, he’s just not well-developed and the final showdown may be a fun extravaganza of effects, but it does little for me emotionally and whatever character development is there really doesn’t play much of a role in the finale.
Because of the simple fact that Robert Downey, Jr plays IRON MAN and the film was directed by John Favreau, I knew this was gonna be better than, say, THE FANTASTIC FOUR. But given the potential and the hype, I ultimately felt disappointed. And, dare I say, a little bored.
However, you should be aware that I’m in the minority.