Hey, welcome back to “Make Mom Marvel”. For our first installment, we will logically cover the movie that started it all:
Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard
May 7, 2008 (US Premiere)
Summary for Moms:
Based on the 1963 comic of the same name, Iron Man is the tale of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), a narcissistic, genius who earns his billions from his father’s weapons manufacturing company. When captured by terrorists during a weapons test, he is gravely injured and builds a suit of armor to escape and keep him alive. Having seen the destruction his weapons have wrought, Stark dons an improved suit and resolves to right his wrongs as Iron Man, but comes into conflict with others who see his suit as a means to profit. This film is the first in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series of films and lays the groundwork for everything since.
Iron Man had a lot riding on it when it was released, and it had a lot riding on it now, because if my mom didn’t like Iron Man, this whole exercise would be an abject failure.
Luckily, Iron Man is an amazing movie in all respects and deserves to be the linchpin of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rewatching it helped me remember exactly why it was such a massive success. The characters are well developed and their personalities manage to shine through the absurd amount of improv that Jon Favreau integrated into the film. And for a film that had no script, the story is beautifully plotted with nary a hint of downtime. It also effortlessly establishes a world from which Iron Man and his fellow superheroes could plausibly spring from.
My mom thought so, too. She adored the film and praised the story and its direction. And she was pleasantly surprised and very impressed that Jon Favreau (also in the film as Happy Hogan), was a graduate of my high school, Bronx Science. At the same time, she wonders why I’m not making the bucketloads of money he is. Thanks, Mom.
She loved Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, and had been eager to see the movie because he was in it. Only after finishing the movie did I find out that she really didn’t know who Robert Downey Jr. was. I told her that he was perfectly suited to play Iron Man, not only due to his snarky demeanor but also since the character had suffered a lot of substance abuse problems as RDJ did. She had no idea what I was talking about. She thought he had starred in a lot of law movies as a lawyer, and that was why she liked him. I don’t know who she thought Robert Downey Jr was, and I declined to follow up on that.
She also liked Jeff Bridges’ villainous turn as Obadiah Stane saying he was “very evil”, which, from her, is high praise for a villain. It probably helped that he looked like a man, and not some sort of crazy monster person. She wouldn’t have liked that.
But Iron Man was not without its faults. Although my mom’s definition of ‘faults’ baffles me to no end. The film features a lot of comedic, light-hearted moments, both due to the nature of the Tony Stark character and the improvisation of the production, which is where a lot of the movie’s charm springs from. But my mom didn’t much care for the funny elements at all, which is odd, but, ultimately does make sense. She just doesn’t ‘do comedy’. As someone who deals ONLY in comedy, I’m not sure how to feel. I can only assume how she feels having me as a son.
She also did not like the parts where Tony Stark “behaved badly” or “was a jerk”, which, again, is a crucial part of the movie and the character as a whole. So I wasn’t sure my mom really understood the point of Iron Man, but then she mentioned that her favorite part was when Stark slowly realized what his weapons were doing and that he needed to make a change. So maybe she did get Iron Man after all.
Watching Iron Man with my mom gave me a whole new respect for exactly how well it was produced for the common viewer (non-fans). For people who had no knowledge of the property going in, Iron Man‘s deftness of story and direction manages to convey the basic characteristics and concepts that make him such an interesting hero, while still putting forward a dynamic and fast moving story with very little fat and enough cool moments for diehard fanboys. So, even if you or your mom don’t like comedy or characters that “are a jerk”, Iron Man will still have something for you.
Mom Rating (Out of Five):
Post Credits Sequence:
Mom knew who Samuel L. Jackson was, but just called him “that guy who’s in all the movies”. She wasn’t aware of the character of Nick Fury, and I had to explain to her how shocking it was to see this scene in 2008, and all the implications it raised. She said “alright”.