Tony Stark's Blockbuster Heart Pumps Fresh Iranian Blood into Hollywood's Dream Factory
©imdb & Paramount Pictures & Photocomposition ©DK
[gazing at a helmet] That doesn't look like a missile... What are you
Tony Stark: I'm working on something big.
Tony Stark: You got a family?
Yinsen: Yes, and I will see them when I leave here. And you, Stark?
Tony Stark: [quietly] No.
Yinsen: So you're a man who has everything, but nothing.
Tony Stark: Come on, you're going to go see your family again.
Yinsen: My family's dead. I'm going to see them now, Stark. It's okay. I want this.
Yinsen: [to Stark] Don't waste your life.
Payvand.com - When Paramount Pictures first started announcing the screen adaptation of another of Stan Lee's Comic Book Super Hero adventures, I must admit I looked at the perspective with little enthusiasm not to say irritation. The recent sequels to Superman, Batman, The Fantastic Four or Spiderman films have been a great disappointment other than displaying ever groundbreaking special effects but without delivering an exciting plot, dialogue or interesting characters. They also often seemed to betray the initial spirit of the comic books in question. Yet there seemed to be more to this latest Hollywood production than the very cliché poster of a flying man in an armor of steal. The poster is also truly misleading for one expects to see another invincible and invulnerable larger than life superhero. Instead I was happily surprised to discover a highly entertaining story where the Special Effects don't overshadow the characters.
More importantly it announced the return of Robert Downey Jr. (Oscar Nominated for his excellent portrayal of Charlie Chaplin in Richard Attenborough's 1992 bio epic) to the Cinema Screen's after a decade of seeing this extremely talented and sensitive actor squander his talent and health in a series of drug scandals and recurrent rehabs that would put Amy Whinehouse to shame. He seemed to make a comeback with supporting roles on TV like the Ally McBeal shows and noticeable roles as in George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck".
After saving the unscrupulous Arms Dealer's Life, Yinsen (Shaun Toub) gives a new meaning to Tony Stark's (Robert Downey JR.) life by contributing to his transformation into the compassionate Man of Steal: The Invincible Iron Man. ©Paramount Pictures
"In the lead role of Tony Stark, Downey plays an ego-centric womanizer who has built a reputation and a career around supplying the world with military weapons. When his convoy is ambushed by said weapons during a promotional stunt in Afghanistan, Stark is kidnapped and forced to create a super missile from parts a rogue military organization has seized.
Locked deep in a cave with Yinsen (Shaun Toub), Stark's life is saved thanks to the latter who installs an apparatus attached to his chest that eliminates shrapnel from his body, an apparatus Stark later perfects. Instead of creating the weapons for the villains, Stark creates an iron suit and blasts his way out of the cave, eventually getting back to the United States.
Humbled by his experience, and by Yinsen's personal sacrifice in order to save him, Stark has a change of heart concerning his chosen line of work and decides to rid the world of the very same weapons his company has created since World War II.
With help from friend Colonel Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard) and assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Stark creates a better suit that gives him superhuman power and the ability to fly.
Upset over the chain of events, Stark's business partner, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), cuts Stark out of the company and seizes control of the business and eventually the suit which he recreates to turn himself into the Iron Monger. From there the movie loses its focus on ridding the world of evil weapons dealers in Afghanistan and focuses on the battle between Iron Man and Iron Monger thus hinting to future possible sequels for an Iron Man Franchise ... "
Robert Downey JR; making a spectacular comeback as Tony Stark, the Invincible "Iron Man" Fighting Evil as well as his own Dark Past ©imdb.com
IRAN MAN: Tony Stark's Iranian Connections
I don't know if its your case but when I go to a movie in the Theatre, I often like to sit through a picture until the very last moment and look through the cast list of actors, technicians and all the people involved in the making of the movie. I suppose it is a movie buff habit that I seem to linger on after all these years. It has also been something of a happy occupation in recent years given that I keep seeing more and more familiar names of Persian Heritage. Something that seemed virtually impossible some two decades ago when Hollywood seemed only accessible to Artists of Western Heritage. So it was not entirely a coincidence if I also came across a few familiar names in the Iron Man Cast List who are slowly but surely paving the way to other compatriots in the Hollywood Dream Factory.
Iranian American actor Shaun Toub already noticed for his breakthrough performance in Paul Haggis' Oscar Winning film "Crash" playing an Iranian expat caught in a vicious circle of violence and self inflicted racial and cultural prejudice like the other protagonists in the film, is becoming a fairly recognizable face for the American and European audience in such films like Marc Forster's "The Kite Runner", The Biblical Epic "The Nativity Story" or in Mike Collins "Charlie Wilson's War". Interestingly although Shaun Toub plays a middle Eastern character in all the films mentioned here, he has nevertheless created very different personalities each time be them marginal, villains or saints he seems to add a new layer to each performance that leaves an enduring impression on the audience where he often steals the show to the other fellow actors and Stars which normally are meant carry the film entirely on their own shoulders.
I have personally a great affection and respect for what the profession likes to call "supporting actors" or "supporting performances" or in French Cinema reduced to the term "Second Couteau". The American film industry seemed to have neglected them to some degree particularly in action movies particularly through out the 80's and 90's where an entire movie seemed to rotate around the central hero in the likes of the Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger film vehicles. Fortunately it seems that directors are coming back to what was and to a great degree remains a Hollywood Tradition.
Supporting performances are vital to a movie's credibility and storyline. Nearly all well known movie Stars have marked their debut with an immediately recognizable presence before getting more important roles. To name a few Harrison Ford as Colonel Lucas in "Apocalypse Now", Dennis Hopper as Rock Hudson's Son in "Giant" or the two Wonderful character actors Peter Lorre and Syndey Greenstreet playing Opposite Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca" or the "Maltese Falcon" .
"I owe him my Life": Robert Downing JR. ( Tony Stark/Iron Man) Introduces Shaun Toub (Yinsen) at Hollywood Premiere of Iron Man ©imdb.com
A beautiful Young actor Nazanin Boniadi a recurrent Star on the Popular TV series General Hospital is the other Iranian to appear in Iron Man as a TV anchor. Unlike Shaun Toub her appearance is more of a cameo in this picture since we only see and hear her on Tony Stark's Plasma Home TV commenting about the War in Afghanistan in a crucial scene where Stark starts exploring his new powers as Iron Man.
Finally the cherry on the Cake for the movie buff in me was to notice that the excellent Sound Track of the movie was composed by the brilliant Ramin Djawadi , a German Iranian music Composer who has been leaving his imprint on major Hollywood productions in recent years. On Iron Man, Djawadi set the core of the music on heavy guitar, which he felt suited Iron Man best in rendering a rhythm very much like a machine before arranging it for the orchestra to perform. Like the Movie's Special Effects, I found that the music score truly contributes to the movie's atmosphere without distracting your attention from what is taking place onscreen. As a subtle private joke amongst the hero's fans, Djawadi also used the theme song from the original Iron Man (1966) cartoon series which are played in several shots (in the casino scene; in Stark's bedroom scene and finally it is the personalized ring tone for Stark on James Rhodes cell phone).
Like in most Super Hero adventures the moral dilemma's of the main characters are often reduced to the eternal and often simplistic battle between Good and Evil. Iron Man does not make an exception to this rule. The second degree humor however and Tony Stark's ironic twist of fate from an alcoholic anti-hero Arms Dealer to a compassionate man who realizes that his previous life has only been a tool of destruction and death does offer some bitter sweet observations on the Arms Dealing Industry and their borderline notions of Good and Evil as when Stark comments to his faithful secretary Virginia 'Pepper' Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) change of heart:
"You stood by my side all these years while I reaped the benefits of destruction. Now that I'm trying to protect the people I've put in harm's way, your going to walk out?"
Like for most American Comic Book Heroes, Iron Man celebrates Individual triumph and the quest for justice in a society where the notions of good and evil seem to be obscure. Interestingly however it seems that in contrast to Super Heroes like Superman, Batman or Spiderman which lead a double life in a nearly schizophrenic behavior, that would require psychiatric therapy in real life, Iron Man seems hardly tries to hide his new identity and even ends revealing it to his closest friends and ultimately to the press towards the movie's end. In an America disillusioned by the War on Terror in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Iron Man seems to offer an interesting cinematic metaphor on the end of the traditional so-called "American Super Hero". Instead of an individual with certainties he seems to be filled with doubt and guilt. He becomes a hero not because he was subject to injustice like Batman whose Parents were killed by criminals but because he himself once delivered this injustice and ultimately decides to redeem by putting his intelligence and skills to end it.
Iron Man which has had a surprising Box Office debut worldwide truly marks the comeback of Robert Downey JR. to the Silver Screen. He is a living proof that wisdom and stamina can overcome an actors insecurities and bouts of depression and drug addiction and win the hearts of his fans worldwide.
May Robert Downey JR. continue on this constructive path and serve as the excellent role model he is that is as one of the most gifted actors of his generation !
VIVE LE CINEMA !
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About the Author: Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian, and Media Consultant. He is also contributes to OCPC Magazine in LA/US and to the London Based IC Publications The Middle East Magazine and Persian Heritage Magazine.
... Payvand News - 05/12/08 ... --