(2008)4Jeremy WheelerThe curtain rises on Marvel Comics' first in-house production to rousing results as their metal man of iron introduces himself to enthralled moviegoers everywhere. Just as billionaire playboy Tony Stark utilizes his technological know-how to fight evildoers, so does director Jon Favreau use his bag of cinematic tricks to lay the groundwork for yet another top-caliber franchise starring one of the biggest icons of the printed page. Delivering laughs as well as leaps of wonder, this comic-book fantasy gets it right across the board, with its buoyant tone never diluting the grounded dramatics of the story. For the flick to work, though, one needs an exceptional cast -- something this production has in spades. Sure, it's an origin story, but to the cast's credit, none of it ever seems tedious. Even if they basically follow the same superhero mold of yesteryear, the tight ensemble of Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, and Jeff Bridges sells the action romp every step of the way -- so much so that one can't help but want more. It's quite evident that the best is yet to come, not only with this series, but also with big-screen Marvel outings as a whole. With clever shout-outs to the imprint's expansive universe (including a post-credit cameo that'll send the geek Richter scale off the charts), Iron Man sets the stage for as yet unrealized crossover possibilities, a dream barely hinted at in previous book-to-screen adaptations. If future productions can deliver on the story while juggling both the technology and the talent as well as this one did, then it is possible that this is the true start of comicdom's cinematic rebirth, built by the best that Hollywood has to offer. All in all, a fine introduction to a hero that finally dares to tackle weight-of-the-world issues. It's about time.