From an average action-movie goer's perspective, this film had a very different nature than the recent barrage of hero flicks. Of course some of the obvious differences:
- Tony Stark is not a "good guy." The "good guy" has values, morals, etc. (Think, "With great power comes great responsibility.") Stark has none of these.
- Tony Stark is normal. Or at least, as normal as a rich playboy can be. Really the other main superhero with wealth would be Batman, but Batman has a very eccentric history (your typical rich kid doesn't wind up picking flowers on the side of a mountain to become a ninja.) In other words, Tony Stark isn't special. This is key to the draw of Ironman.
- Stark is not given a gift. Being given/born with a gift is fine for a superhero, but overused. (Think Spiderman/Superman/Fantastic 4/X-men/Heroes/etc.) Ironman has the same draw as Batman in this regard, both of these two "do-gooders" had to create their character, it wasn't created for them.
Downey Jr. really shined in this one, giving a "polished bad ass" effect to Stark's character. Yes, that may sound like an oxymoron, but it seems the appropriate description. Downey is one of the kings of sarcasm.
The biggest issue with the movie was the cinematography at the final climax...particularly the scene where the Arc Reactor is triggered and explodes. From the look of the cinematography, Ironman was closer to the reactor than the larger iron-clad villian. Stark was directly above the reactor practically, and his former business partner was a little ways off on the roof. However when the explosion happened, Stark survived (with only half of his suit left) and the villian (with suit still intact) was killed. Not exactly practical...but also not really a huge deal because few people will stop to think about that in the middle of the theater. Nonetheless, it's nothing a small change in camera angles can't fix.
Over all, a must-see.