It’s hard to imagine Hollywood finding any heroic character elements in an American manufacturing executive, but today’s Washington Post review of Iron Man, which opens Friday, gives hope. The protagonist, i.e., Iron Man, is Tony Stark:
He’s an engineering genius who has succeeded his late father, named Howard, to run Stark Industries. Originally an anti-communist whose identity was formed during the Vietnam conflict, Iron Man and his story have been moved by Favreau and Co. to the Middle East, where Stark technology is being used — and stolen, and used against civilians and Americans.
Stark’s metamorphosis, in terms of both worldview and secret identity, comes about after his Humvee is bombed, he’s captured, and then he’s fitted with an electromagnet to keep shrapnel from entering his heart (Iron Man always had heart problems, and the armored suit was part life-support system).
To have Downey, the hippest of Hollywood creatures, deliver dialogue about Stark Industries’ moral legacy and the virtues of corporate humanity was as delicate a matter as any facing the “Iron Man” team. But it was also in keeping with Favreau’s philosophy about the hero himself.
“It was a difficult thing to present Robert as not being naive but being open to redemption,” the director says. “Not making him seem childlike or foolish but having him realize he’s been living by the wrong set of standards.”
Lots of intriguing photos, including his workshop. A red toolbox!
Anyway, Robert Downey Jr. is almost always good, his Lord Rivers in Richard III being one exception.
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