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Iron Man - Preview

Iron Man

Preview by Jack Foley

IT MAY have taken over 15 years to bring to the screen, but there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful over the impending release of Iron Man.

Early word and trailers suggest the film successfully brings another of Marvel’s iconic superheroes to the big screen, complete with a charismatic leading man and a quality supporting cast.

The film follows the fortunes of Robert Downey Jnr’s inventor Tony Stark who dons his most powerful creation, a high-tech suit of armour, to fight Mandarin, a dark-minded scientific genius bent on spreading his influence worldwide.

Directed by Jon Favreau (of Swingers fame), the central character is no longer based on eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes (as the original was), but is refashioned to take the form of a contemporary industrialist whose technology is being used in the Middle Eastern war effort.

According to Favreau, it’s going to boast widespread appeal. “Every kid will want to see this movie,” he confidently told Total Film magazine, adding: “Despite Iron Man being a conflicted superhero, you also have ILM’s effects making it look amazing.”

But there’s also the talented support cast to consider, which brings with it a certain adult appeal.

Oscar nominee Terrence Howard, for instance, plays Lt. Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes, a pilot who befriends Stark when Iron Man saves his life after a plane crash left him stranded behind enemy lines; Gwyneth Paltrow plays Virginia “Pepper” Potts, Stark’s personal secretary and probable love interest; Jeff Bridges plays Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger, an advisor of Stark who takes over the corporation during his kidnapping in Afghanistan, and there’s even supposed to be a brief appearances from Samuel L Jackson, Hilary Swank, Favreau himself and, of course, Marvel veteran Stan Lee.

And hopes are certainly high. Distributor Paramount has embarked on the same high-profile marketing campaign that helped to turn Transformers into one of the biggest hits of last summer, while Favreau has also managed to secure the principal cast members for any sequels. He reportedly envisages a trilogy, where darker elements of Iron Man’s character – including his alcoholism – can be explored.

The question, as ever, remains whether the film will perform strongly enough at the box office to pay the way for such sequels. But with an early summer opening, on May 22, it looks well placed to kickstart the blockbuster season in spectacular style (the berth was occupied and exploited by Spider-Man 3 last year, so it’s obviously a good time).

And with Indiana Jones following for Paramount on May 22, expect the early box office victories to be dominated by that distributor. Watch the trailer