"Knight Thoughts" - exclusive web content
Former tabloid poster boy Robert Downey, Jr. finds himself headlining a potential comic book blockbuster franchise - at 43!
5-2-08 "Knight Thoughts" web exclusive review
By Richard Knight, Jr.
Playing the title role in Iron Man, the latest Marvel comic book blockbuster Robert Downey, Jr. almost single handedly revives the
genre. Who’d a thought five years ago that the man who had become the tabloids poster boy and the butt of endless snickering
jokes would receive that kind of praise? Downey is so assured, sexy, deft, funny, and did I mention sexy that Iron Man – a sort of
combination of Robocop and Transformers (if the latter were reimagined for swingin' bachelors) – is almost unimaginable without him.
It certainly wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable.
Downey plays Tony Stark, a whiz kid inventor who has grown up creating weapons of mass destruction for Stark Industries the
corporation started by his late father and run by dad and Tony’s best friend, Obadiah (Jeff Bridges with his head shaved and a
beard). After a weapons demonstration for the army while in the Mideast Tony is captured by terrorists only to escape when he
creates the prototype for the Iron Man suit. Seeing the terrorist’s stockpile of Stark Industries weapons has caused Tony to have a
change of heart and when he returns home he decides to use the new, improved Iron Man suit to prevent wars – not abet them.
This is something Obadiah can’t abide and a story of good versus evil unfolds. The long sequences in which Tony creates the Iron
Man suit and tries it out is like watching a kid with an erector set – talk about a movie fulfilling the “boys and their toys” dream.
With his cigars, ever present cocktail, and bevy of hookerish playmates near at hand, Stark is like the personification of the Maxim
magazine man with the bonus of having a sexy, efficient, indulgent assistant played by Gwyneth Paltrow. He’s so “money baby,” so
ring-a-ding-ding cool you can almost hear Frank Sinatra singing on the soundtrack and Downey plays him to the hilt. This is a
superhero by way of Swingers and it’s perfect that Jon Favreau, who broke through with that movie, directed and has a cameo as the
Iron Man represents a new, very different variation on the typical comic book movie – it’s a blockbuster with a conscience whose hero
– a rat pack Vegas style playboy with a heart – is played by the 43 year-old Downey like a guy just entering his prime. Both
character and actor based on the evidence here are doing just that. Ring-a-ding-ding baby, indeed!