CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011) and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014), tonight I watched the first film in the series, IRON MAN (2008).
Robert Downey Jr. plays industrialist Tony Stark, son of Howard Stark from the film CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. (Gerard Sanders plays Howard in newsreel footage and stills seen in IRON MAN; Howard was played by Dominic Cooper in CAPTAIN AMERICA and the TV series AGENT CARTER. Apparently John Slattery of HOMEFRONT and MAD MEN will play Howard in some of the films.) Wealthy inventors Howard and Tony Stark both seem to have been influenced by Howard Hughes; Tony is incredibly brilliant, but also a womanizing, unserious egomaniac -- until fate intervenes.
Tony is nearly killed in the Middle East; this part was rather humorous for me, as the scenes were shot in the Alabama Hills outside Lone Pine, California. I had a bit of hard time suspending disbelief due to my familiarity with the area, but it was also fun to see the location used in a newer movie.
Tony ends up held prisoner by terrorists, with another captured scientist implanting a weird device in the wounded Tony's chest to keep his heart going. The terrorists want Tony to build a weapons system, but instead he creates the first Iron Man, enabling him to blow the bad guys to smithereens and escape.
Tony's return home is greeted with joy by his loyal assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and his close friend, Rhodey (Terrence Howard). After seeing his company's weapons misused in the Middle East, Tony wants out of the weapons manufacturing business, to the consternation of his partner, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges).
I found the evolution of Tony Stark in the film, from privileged brat to serious man with a mission, to be very well handled and believable. The casting of Downey was interesting for multiple reasons; Downey, like Stark, overcame his past and turned his life around, and it was also refreshing to have someone in his 40s cast as a superhero, with an age-appropriate leading lady.
I did like the prolonged development sequences where Tony interacts with his robot Jarvis (voiced by Paul Bettany); I suspect one of the reasons the development sequences were lengthy was to better ground the film in a sense of reality, and from that standpoint they work.
I understand I'll also be meeting Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) of SHIELD in future films. As I mentioned in my review of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, I do enjoy the "soap opera"/movie series aspects of these films, with long-running characters in interconnected stories.
IRON MAN was directed by Jon Favreau, who also appears onscreen in the series as Hogan. It was filmed by Matthew Libatique.
As was the case with the CAPTAIN AMERICA movies, the music is sadly forgettable.
Parental Advisory: IRON MAN is rated PG-13 for intense action sequences and one very brief suggestive scene. There are a lot of explosions but no graphic violence.
IRON MAN is available on DVD and Blu-ray.