Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., owns a weapons manufacturer. On a trip to demonstrate a new missile, the Jericho, which knocks out a wall of defenses with many small bombs deployed from a single shot, he is captured. His captors are essentially killers Al-Qaeda. They want him to build this device.
In a cave, he realizes he cannot escape on his own. He'll build the bomb, and then, they'll kill him. Bad deal. He secretly builds the Iron Man suit and gets back home. Fellow captive and engineering genius Dr. Yinsen cautions him, "Don't Waste Your Life." Yinsen gives his life to save Tony's.
While in captivity, he sees that his weapons are used by the enemy. Why? How?
He had been a sleazy, rich, indulgent womanizer. Now, he sees the light. Not only is he a new man with his morals, but, with his view about weapons. His Iron Man suit will be used for good, by him. Specifically, he will use it to take down the enemy's stock of Stark Industry weapons.
Top Movies of All Time: Top 100
Top Movies of All Time: Top 100
One problem. His partner, Obadiah Stane, is in cahoots with the enemy. He sanctioned Stark's capture, and is the one selling Stark products. He double crosses the enemy, and acquires the Iron Man prototype suit and plans.
Meanwhile, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), previously seen as a plain assistant, starts looking good to Tony Starks. Both realize they are nowhere without the other.
Do I need to tell all? No, no. On with you. Go see it. Surprise ending.
We need a hero. When Captain America was killed off to make some political point by Marvel, we lost something.
When you do, look for Stan Lee. He's the Hugh Hefner lookalike.
The acting is solid, with Downey spot-on for the role. Paltrow is replaceable. Jeff Bridges, as Obadiah, is excellently cast. Shaun Toub as Dr. Yinsen carries the role impressively, though we only see him in the beginning of the movie.
Terrence Howard as Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes is the weakest link, as he comes across too feminine and insipid to be the kind of leader he should be as the liaison between Stark Industries and the military.
The movie's messages: heroes are men who do the right thing even if it means sacrifice, and, bigger guns do not necessarily lead to peace. The message is conflicted, however, as it is bigger guns which save the day (with some good ol' experience thrown in).
The idea of not wasting one's life -- having purpose and vision -- comes through well. This brings the movie from sheer pulp to something with depth. Tony Stark is not perfect; some of his faults are indefensible. He is, though, a man on a mission. That's a pretty good idea for all of us.
Violent at times, horrific at others -- the terrorists here are put in their proper light, but as they murder, it is very realistic and frightening.
Sensuality -- Tony Starks is a womanizer, and we see evidence of this, especially as he seduces an equally arrogant Brown University graduate and magazine writer Christine Everhart (Leslie Bibb). When Pepper Potts is escorting her out, she refers to her as trash.
Would I bring kids? Probably not. PG-13 it is rightly rated.
Look for a sequel.