The 2008 summer movie season might as well be dubbed the Summer of Superheroes. Several of this year's flicks are based on or inspired by comic books and cartoon characters, all releasing within weeks of each other, beginning with Iron Man. He's a classic that dates back to 1963, nearly as old as Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, yet this is the first attempt to bring ole Shell Head—one of my all-time favorites—to the big screen.
What makes Iron Man so special? Much like Batman, he doesn't really have any mutant superpowers or radioactive accidents to speak of. Tony Stark is a middle-aged, self-made hero with nothing more than his brilliant mind and seemingly endless wealth to combat evil. Part Howard Hughes, part James Bond, his stories offer complex themes of psychological scars and atonement as Stark wrestles with character flaws and personal demons to become a better man. And as a billionaire weapons industrialist, the Iron Man series offers a timely subject concerning capitalism and the ethical use of weapons to keep the peace.
Ah, who am I kidding? It's the armor.
Iron Man has got to be the sleekest looking superhero ever—the stylish sports car of the Marvel Comics universe, with as many gadgets as a walking, cybernetic Swiss Army knife. When he first appears on screen in his trademark red-and-gold suit, the 10-year-old boy in me was thrilled to see his hero come to life. As both a fan and a critic, I'm happy to say that actor-turned-director Jon Favreau (Elf, Zathura) adapts the story into a successful film—one that translates well to our present world climate.
Robert Downey Jr. plays Stark, the wealthy inventor in charge of Stark Industries, a weapons development corporation started by his late ...