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Darren says

RDJ brings the character to life in a true commitment to the character that will indelibly change the Marvel Movie Universe, laying the groundwork for great things to come. Well directed, this movie shows the heart of a hero in every sense and carries itself with feeling and a great sense of humor.

Tym says

A fun rewrite of BATMAN BEGINS, turbo-ed by Downey's personality.

Ciaran says

Transforming a career B-lister the main Avenger overnight.

The Silver Age of Superhero Films didn't really start in 2008 with this film, but it most definitely helped reignite it.

The Silver Age, when fan-to-pro directors took over the film reins, had its first phase from 1998 to 2004 with Blade, The X-Men, Spider-Man, X-2, and Spider-Man 2. But things were already tilting wonky with the Blade sequels, Hulk, Daredevil, Elektra, X-Men 3, the Ghost Riders, the Fantastic Fours, and the Punishers. And then hit rock bottom with Catwoman, Spider-Man 3, and The Spirit. "Holy Batman and Robin, Batman!"

In truth, the Siver Age (phase II) was reignited by Batman Begins (2005), and sustained by Superman Returns (2006), and The Dark Knight and Hellboy II and Iron Man (2008). It will sound like a flip disservice to say that Iron Man is really "Batman Begins Lite," but it is, in structure and story parallels: cad playboy, rough origin, surrogate villain, evil mentor. That's okay, because what transforms and energizes it into something entirely new is Robert Downey, Jr., who turns his trilogy into a fun riposte to Bruce Wayne's.

Director Jon Favreau, akin to Sam Raimi, understands how to do action drama with sly comedy without descending by default into camp. Downey seizes this stage and wrings every spark out of the spotlight, sending up his own storied past while flashing in peak form. Downey seems to sense how much of Tony is in him, and where to follow that in every scene, through a musical scale of cavalier, pensive, haunted, and rebellious.

On the page, Tony Stark really was an ersatz Bruce Wayne in armor and mustache for a decade, until the work of David Michelinie, John Romita, Jr., and Bob Layton (1979) upgraded him into the big time. They introduced his buddy James Rhodes, his doppelgänger Justin Hammer, and--most famously--the alcoholism that would cause Rhodey to replace him for a time. Without their bedrock work, as much as Robert's charm lifting it all, there would be no Iron Man films.

While DC films were finally getting back to speed for the first time since 1981, Iron Man and the underappreciated The Incredible Hulk (also 2008) saw Marvel Studios pick back up the gauntlet for glory.