Sick of films from Marvel Studios? Think list articles are cliche? If your answer to either of those questions is ‘no,’ then there is a chance you will not hate this countdown of the best (and only) films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
Before we even truly knew that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was thing (or at least know that it would become a pop-culture phenomenon), we only had this new superhero movie being made with Robert Downey, Jr. on top of the bill. They surrounded him with some Oscar-nominated actors (Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, & Jeff Bridges), but the film was clearly functioned as a showcase for the Robert Downey, Jr. persona on steroids. On that level, it largely succeeds. Downey comes off like a total star and nails just about every beat of the film. While Downey was the primary focus of the film and successfully carries it overall, I do not think any of the pieces around him contributed in any meaningful way.
Jeff Bridges’ Obadiah Stane is not really an inspired villain. He wants as much money as possible, and Tony stands in the way of that. How very, very interesting! Pepper and Rhodey are fine sidekicks, but (even if you ignore their problematic positioning in the overall pattern of portrayals of women and black men in the MCU) they do not offer much in the way of substance to the film. Neither is especially funny nor given the depth to make them a character you can be greatly invested in. The best MCU films so far have had a number of characters that we got to know in a way that allowed us to care about their fates. This film’s inability to do that is its biggest shortcoming and a major hurdle to me really caring about the final product. The film is fine, but a more well-rounded cast of characters would have brought it to the heights for me that most fans and critics seem to put it at.