Iron Man

Director: Jon Favreau

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow

Rating: PG-13

Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment

Release Date: September 30, 2008

Rating: *** 1/2 out of ****

I have a confession to make: I've never been a huge fan of superhero movies. Of course, I've contributed to the bank-breaking gross figures of each, letting the local Cineplex bend me over (I should "Pause” that, huh? Okay, pause) and yank $12 out of pocket, and then a subsequent four more for a watered-down Diet Coke. But really, I've yet to go ga-ga over one of these superhero flicks.

Sure, Batman Begins was great, largely due to the fact that Christian Bale can do no wrong, but I've rarely had the urge to watch it on cable since. And, while technically and creatively superior, those Spiderman movies did little for me, most likely because Tobey Maguire is the acting equivalent of watching paint dry and Kirsten Dunst was a horrible Mary Jane casting choice (Scarlett Johansson, anyone?).

But lo and behold, I absolutely loved Iron Man. Being the monstrous Wu-Tang head that I am, the charm of that Ghostface Killah connection undoubtedly plays a role in this (and no, GFK makes no cameo in the movie, sadly, contrary to rumors), but, regardless, this movie is pretty badass. Robert Downey Jr. is perfect for the role of Tony Stark, a genius playboy who drinks and beds beauties with ease, employing his asshole charm and cocky demeanor, a la the real-life Downey Jr. of old (read the new GQ cover story on him, by the way. It's pretty dope). The film is largely a one-man show, with his supporting roles mostly one-dimensional. Terrence Howard is given little to do as Stark's BFF, but really, Howard should have no complaints—this is the only good movie he's made since Hustle & Flow, anyway. And kudos to Gwyneth Paltrow for taking an unexpected stock character (loyal female assistant) and giving it some verve.

The coolest elements the film has, from a geeky point-of-view, are the Iron Man suit itself, and the small touches sprinkled throughout. First off, that suit looks amazing, gleaming and totally believable—it's CGI, of course, but at some points, you'd hardly even notice. The scenes where Stark is developing it and testing its features in his basement laboratory are brilliant little touches, especially the first one where it unexpectedly malfunctions. And for you Marvel Comics die-hards, there's a bunch of winks your way—most notably, S.H.I.E.L.D.

If there's one downside to the film, and it's pretty minor in light of the film's overall fun factor, it's the final showdown between Iron Man and Obadiah Stane's (a convincingly slimy Jeff Bridges) Iron Monger—at least, that's what I think his name is, being that it's never said in the film's final act. But yeah, this city street-staged fight reeks of Transformers-biting, and is pretty non-epic. It's more like a fight that should go down between Iron Man and Stane's top henchman, not the supreme baddie himself. But again, this is apples and oranges, in the end. The movie still kicks ass.