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The First Venture Into the Marvel Cinematic Universe - Novel, Highly-Entertaining and Very Good on Blu-ray
on 23 July 2017
Despite only being 9 years old, 'Iron Man' is the grand-daddy of them all and marked the first cinematic venture into the Marvel Cinematic Universe; indeed, as further releases progressed (the total being 16 with 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' recently having hit the screens), 3 of them are 'Iron Man' headliners and they all feature in the first 7 to be produced.
I saw this film in the cinema on release and was blown-away with it's freshness, great special-effects, sharp action, snappy dialogue and charismatic lead character (played by Robert Downey Jr.).
Apparently, the production was kicked around film studios for many years before Marvel Studios regained control, with the usually excellent Jon Favreau in the directors chair; he went on to direct 'Iron Man 2', but despite not then directing 'Iron Man 3' he maintained a presence as he also has quite a prominent acting part in all 3 films.
If you agree with my earlier reflections, it's not hard to see why 'Iron Man' is such a successful film series and why the character prevails, even after 'Iron Man 3', courtesy of prominent contributions in many of the remaining 'Avengers' genre movies - IMHO there is really a 4th in the series, as whilst I didn't particularly like the film, 'Captain America: Civil War' should really be titled 'Iron Man 4: Civil War'....
So, this film is a 'first' in more than one respect as, by definition, it was also the first 'new character' film and also where the 'Avenger' (and 'S.H.I.E.L.D.') seeds are sown.
Necessarily, the plot of 'Iron Man' is quite involved and a lot is revelation - so for the few people out there that might not be aware, instead of reading the full 'spoiler-laden' Amazon synopsis, here's an edited version :
"Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is the billionaire owner of Stark Industries, a corporation that specialises in weapons development. When in Afghanistan to demonstrate a new weapon to the US military, a life-changing event occurs...."
'Iron Man' was the first Avengers film I bought on DVD, but when Blu-ray came to the fore I eventually succumbed; this was despite the 2-disc 'Ultimate' DVD I owned already being very acceptable. So, on the face of it the Blu-ray was not likely to be much of an advance, especially as the disc extras (assuming you get the 2-disc Blu-ray release) were identical to the 2-disc DVD and the soundtrack 'only' being of the TrueHD variety, when more modern releases make a jump to at least DTS-HD Master Audio.
Happily, whilst I'm still not convinced that the sound is much improved the picture most definitely is.
So, we initially learn a little about Tony Stark, then after the opening drama section we quickly get a fuller understanding about him, his work/legacy and his 'diverse' personality. Then 'Iron Man' really comes to the foreground with the, largely combative, action content being elevated dramatically - with a wide-array of technology on show as developments ensue....
Even with filming/effects having progressed, the production-values of the film remain top-notch with effective/expansive sets and convincing special-effects. There are a number of notable acting performances, but Downey Jr is dominant and really goes to town portraying such a dynamic, enigmatic, often dismissive character such as Tony Stark.
There is drama, but also a load of humour - plus more 'sexism' than some might like, since Stark is not just a talented businessman/engineer but also a very rich 'playboy' type of person. Jon Favreau really deserves a lot of credit for being at the helm of this highly-effective blockbuster.
As we should expect from a modern film, on Blu-ray things look and sound very good; the flawless and clear print-quality of the DVD is replicated, but in HD sharpness/detail is advanced significantly; it's just as so much is usually on the screen, the definite improvement can be missed - the DVD was that good !
The TrueHD soundtrack is clear and active, but I'm not sure it is as much of an advance over the DVD as the HD picture is.
Similarly, assuming you get the 2-disc Blu-ray release, the copious disc extras are replicated in their entirety, without addition - even down to them appearing on a 2nd disc, but being in HD. That let-down aside, those largely featurette-type extras are substantial, with a total running time some 30mins longer than the film itself !
Here is the Amazon lnk to the 2-disc edition :
Iron Man [Blu-ray]  [Region Free]
I've attached a photo of the case back with all the disc info as Amazon omits it.
So, 'Iron Man' might be the oldest 'Avengers' films but it still remains one of the best and often puts some of the later releases to shame, with a detailed/credible plot and decent/'justifiable' action scenes. It is just as well-made as what follows, and is often much more entertaining courtesy of effective humour and snappy dialogue.