The first thing I thought walking out of the theater is that this movie is either innovative or disrespectful; there is no hiding the fact that liberties have been taken with the entire genre in the new Tony Stark vehicle.
Without giving away any spoilers, if you look at the one liberty (and those who’ve seen it know exactly what it is), and judge it solely on it’s merit and the merit it had in the comics, you’re going to call it disrespectful to the origins. But if you look at how it fits into the whole plot and schema of the movie, it’s a very clever device.
The movie is about identity and accountability, and of all the character flaws shining through Tony Stark, no-one can deny he’s not afraid of being known and being accountable. Indeed, that was the whole moral conundrum that resulted in him de-weaponizing his whole company in Jon Favreau’s first Iron Man movie. And then he goes and makes a public statement to a terrorist, even blurting out his home address (though it’s surprising that by now everyone doesn’t know where the great Tony Stark lives, especially an international terrorist).
The new Iron Man does have a boat load of humor, courtesy of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” director Shane Black. But don’t let these cover-up the depth that aches beneath the surface. Tony Stark is living anxiously after the events of the Avengers. The anxiety-attacks could have been a little better written, maybe with hallucination or more of his pain shown alongside visuals.
Robert Downey Jr. looks wide-eyed and breathes heavily throughout the film. And although he’s a great actor, there’s just not enough built-in or earned emotion for us to feel a whole lot of sympathy; and just imagine how difficult it might be for a viewer who hasn’t seen the events of the The Avengers.
Some of the greatest scenes in the movie come in the form of a young boy Tony finds in a small-town. Their personalities are very similar and it results in a lot of spark on-screen. They quip, talk about fathers, and help each other out in a charming, big brother sort of way.
The remote-controlled armor is an odd duality. The movie’s premise promotes the idea that Tony is Iron Man, Iron Man is not Tony. It’s an inciting moment for Tony’s third-act epiphany; he has gone too far. He builds a boat load of armor, his technology commanding a bit too much of his attention.
The movie is an interesting exploration of the old theme of man-or-machine, even if the climax may be a bit overlong. The explosions never really end in the climax and the lack of quiet moments spliced in between the chaos creates a numbing affect. The repetition of the action sequences simply normalizes the barrage of fireworks. It goes off the rails, falling into the default mode of a standard superhero showdown.