Robert Downey, Jr. is in fine form throughout capturing both the sardonic wit and the overriding sense of responsibility of genius Tony Stark and the gung ho bravado of his armored alter ego. Watching the arc of his character…from seemingly carefree millionaire munitions inventor to stalwart super-hero, all the while dealing with a life-threatening injury and the full flowering of his conscience…is a lovely thing to behold.
Gwyneth Paltrow…as Pepper Potts, Stark’s assistant and possible love interest…and Terrence Howard…as Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Stark’s friend…aren’t given a lot to do but they both make the most of what they do have.
Jeff Bridges gets to chew some scenery as Stark’s mentor Obadiah Stane and he seems to be having deliciously malevolent fun doing so.
The story is both delightfully preposterous and wonderfully thrilling, just like the story in any good super-hero movie should be, and the special effects are quite dazzling (you will believe an armored man can fly…) Director Jon Favreau kept the proceedings light and engaging with just the right amount of explosive bombast to keep things moving along nicely.
Iron Man works even if you’ve never read one of the comic books it was based on but there still are enough insider asides (from "Jarvis" to the Stan Lee cameo to a bit of sly foreshadowing by Howard) to bring a smile to the faces of fanboys like myself. Yeah, it’s very cool.
(And it’s worth sitting through the interminable credits to get to one last clever bit of business.)