Iron Man!

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Skip your classes and make haste to Cinemark: “Iron Man” is the most fun of any superhero movie released in the past year.

Robert Downey, Jr. stars as Tony Stark, a hotshot weapons dealer. Taken captive by a local terrorist group during a visit to the Middle East, they demand Stark reconstruct for them his latest design, the Jericho. Instead, he builds an impenetrable iron suit, and proceeds to lay the smack down.

Most superhero types seem like creeps outside their personas. Downey, Jr.’s Stark is the rare exception to the rule, a character who continues to be more interesting outside of his gadgets and gear than he is with them. Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe tapped the pulse of the performance in his recent review of “Iron Man,” claiming “Downey appears to like all this make-believe. Even the clunky dialogue sounds witty out of his mouth.”

Maybe that doesn’t sound so praise-worthy. But it speaks to some of what makes Downey’s performance in the film so fun. After his escape from captivity, Stark returns to the States a changed man. Swearing off his company’s commitment to weapons manufacturing, Stark becomes consumed by a new task, the construction of a stronger Iron Man suit.

With this, he becomes the latest in a designer line of eccentric billionaires cum superheroes. He holes up in his basement, building the suit out of eye-dazzling gadgetry. Crime fighting is clearly what billionaires do for past time (Howard Hughes was, in fact, also a superhero). So why couldn’t Paris Hilton funnel some of her time and resources into a similar venture? She could be the Bionic Socialite or something. It’d be cool, and it’d give her something to do now that the Simple Life has been canceled.

I won’t go into any more “Iron Man” details. Someone else is probably slated to do a full review of it in the section soon. But I did want to gush, and recommend it to all who may have been on the fence about the Marvel Comic figure’s incarnation on the big screen.

In general, I also wonder what Hollywood looks like now that so many A-List actors and actresses have begun taking part in the superhero genre. A Justice League of Hollywood complete with Oscar statuettes, action figures, and fat paychecks – I like to imagine they all meet up in a mansion somewhere in secrecy. There, they talk shop and swap bragging points. Christian Bale is probably always off scowling in a corner, full brood mode, while the once twiggy Tobey Maguire would likely be too busy working on his abs and pecs to talk much to the rest of the group. Hands down, though, George Clooney would be the life of the party, chuckling about his rubber nipple fittings for “Batman & Robin.” In my head, it’s a riot. And now that Robert Downey, Jr. has joined the party with the “Iron Man” franchise, the group has a resident bad-ass.