Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Super Smart.

One week before the release of Iron Man, the summer's first entry into the blockbuster season sweepstakes, we wrote this at Moviedozer.com (see The May List, Pulling Focus at Moviedozer): "Next to the return of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, this is the surest hit this summer. We’re betting big on a plus 60 million dollar opening and lots and lots of legs. The really good news for Paramount? They’ve got the Indy franchise too. We’ll also bet on Iron Man 2 in 2010." In Iron Man's fourth day of release Marvel Studios announced Iron Man 2 will be released on April 30, 2010. No one at Moviedozer is bragging about being clairvoyant, but we were right about this film from the moment we watched it's first teaser trailer.

The movie looked smart. In a report for Reuters, columnist Kirk Honeycutt points out that director Jon Favreau is a Marvel Comics aficionado and refers to "the supersmart casting of Robert Downey Jr.". The Motley Fool, in a web column from yesterday by Anders Bylund titled Iron Man Makes War on Mediocre Films, Mediocre Profits, said "This is a great example of filmmaking done right.". Referring to the fact that Iron Man was produced in-house by Marvel Studios, the first movie based on one of the many Marvel created characters to be handled by it's creators rather than a licensee, he went on to say, "Let them work without the "death by committee" strangulation of a cautious production house that doesn't fully understand what the movie is about...". A production company that "gets" the project, that, as creators and owners of the property, have an invested interest and intrinsic knowledge to apply? Want to have a superpower in the movie business, start by having some confidence in your product.

According to Wikipedia, the Marvel team of Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby brought Iron Man to life in 1963. Since then, Business Week has called Iron Man "one of the top ten most intelligent fictional characters in American comics." Like most inventions, the intelligence of the product is in direct correlation to the intelligence of it's inventors. The smartest move these inventors made was trusting their instincts. That instinct lead to a 200 million plus worldwide debut of their movie. The guts they showed in smart casting lead to signing Downey, not just as  the main character in a superhero movie but as the personality to hang a franchise on. Not since Disney touched brilliance with casting Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow has any studio so perfectly nailed the right actor for the right role.

We were impressed then and we're impressed now. After this past weekend, Iron Man becomes the most anticipated vehicle for a sequel since Toby McGuire's first spin as Spiderman. The real beauty here is that Robert Downey Jr. has so very much more up his sleeve. This is an actor to watch and to be riveted by. Since we're feeling good about ourselves in the prediction category, we'll make one more here and now on the record. Robert Downey Jr. will turn in so much amazing work in the years to come that he will one day be counted among the absolute finest actors the American Movie industry has ever produced and he will count among his Iron Man artifacts, every major award and accolade befit to stow on such talent.

We like to applaud a job well done and there are two tips of the hat that are well deserved. First, to Jon Favreau, who up until this project only impressed us as being a capable working actor/director. Everyone should take notice of the potential of tapping a person's passions.
 Second, to Mr. Stan Lee for understanding, as few others in this industry ever have, the extraordinary value of believing and persevering, without regard to set-backs or external pressures, in the talents and value of their ideas and the wisdom of nurturing sheer creativity. Mr. Lee's accomplishments put us in the mind of Mr. Walt Disney. Amazing and deserved company.

Some of our early impressions of Iron Man came on Superbowl Sunday when Marvel and Paramount debuted a specially cut television commercial. You can read that column by clicking here. (The article refers to the trailer, no longer active in the column, but you can still see all of the Iron Man trailers at the Iron Man Official Website and read our trailer review at Moviedozer's Summer Trailer Feature on our Trailer Tales page.) You can also go back to read our Dailies post from March 14th, "Iron Man set to soar over '08 box-office".

Thanks to WireImage.com for providing the photos accompanying this piece. Also our thanks to Marvel Comics and Wikipedia for providing their resources.

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