Finally got to see Iron Man this evening. I'm not going to gush and declare it the best comic book movie ever... but it's damned good.
I'm not as critical of comic book film adaptations as many comics fans, and I've liked several films that have been generally dumped upon, including Daredevil and Ghost Rider (in both cases, the DVD Director's Cuts), League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Phantom, The Rocketeer, etc. Iron Man is much better than most of those, and ranks up with the first two Spider-Man and X-Men films for me. It may even be marginally better, but until I'm as familiar with it as I am with those, I'll say it's about the same.
John Favreau, like Sam Raimi, just gets it. He understands the nature of the super-hero story, and knows how to realize it on-screen. There's no sense that he feels he's above the material (and thus, sneering at it), nor embarrassed by it (thus playing it as "camp."). Robert Downey Jr. owns the role of Tony Stark, and makes the character far more interesting than he ever was in the old comics. Gwyneth Paltrow is surprisingly warm and human as Stark's aide and confidante, Pepper Potts... and she's prettier now than she ever was. Maturity looks good on her. Jeff Bridges is nearly unrecognizable as the duplicitous Obidiah Stane, and plays against type brilliantly.
Favreau made the wise choice to handle a considerable amount of the effects work "practically," with real suits of armor and other gizmos on-set, saving the CGI mostly for the big action stuff. Worked great, and it was refreshing to see a little restraint in a Summer FX blockbuster.
With Iron Man, Marvel has taken personal control of their characters exploitation on film, and the attention to detail, character and even continuity shown in this first production, makes a big difference. Can't wait for The Incredible Hulk, the second flick from Marvel Studios. Bring it on, guys!
If you haven't seen it yet, and you like comic book movies at all... see it in the theater. It's worth the hassle.
Speaking of hassles – didn't really have any this time. My back pain made the experience uncomfortable, but the audience was small and well-behaved, for a change. Saw some trailers of interest, too – I grinned like an idiot through the previews for both Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Dark Knight, while the trailer for Frank Miller's adaptation (or is that, "abomination?") of The Spirit, just plain made me want to cry. God, it was just so wrong....