Iron Man was fun. Iron Man is a robot, HAL, 3CPO & R2D2, and especially, I thought, Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still; he’s a cyborg, part machine part man (and a techie friend of various other pet/helper robots); he’s a golem (I wonder if the Jewish golem tradition ties in any covert way into the film’s surprisingly retrograde anti-Arab depictions — though of course the movie makes efforts to protect itself from this accusation: these are just the evil WARLORD Arabs, not the good family-minded ones). He’s a self-guided weapon: there’s something amusingly retro in the idea that a supercharged suit for an individual could be a crucial military tool in 21st century geopolitics (the Terrence Howard character comments at one point about how the instincts and intelligence of a human pilot will never be beaten by robotic intelligence — yeah, right.) And most explicitly, he is the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz trying to get/find his heart.
Robert Downey Jr. was an inspired choice, of course. I thought Gwynth was charming as Pepper Potts although the gender dynamics are as pathetically pre-feminist as in most such movies; or even more so, as she is an indeterminate secretary/butler/girlfriend.
Some fun musical choices: Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” blasts out over the final credits in a satisfying way. And early on Tony Starks is grooving to Suicidal Tendencies’ “Institutionalized” while he tinkers with one of his gadgets. Hope those guys got a fat royalty check out of it.
Btw, A.O. Scott observed that Jeff Bridges’ character confirms the Law of the Bald Villain; Bridges also clarifies that anyone who rides a Segway in popular culture (unlike our friend Susan, who looks really cool in on her Segway and is definitely good) must be evil.
Previews were almost entirely superhero. I have to admit, the new Hulk with Edward Norton looked pretty good, a bit of Jason Bourne to him.