Seconds before being bitten by his own bomb - and reaching 180 degree clarity in the way only a comic book character can - Tony Stark gets in one last quip of his livin' large wisdom: "this is the fun-vee... the hum drum-vee is back there...". It's Swingers speak in the mouth of a soon-to-be super hero. This proves that Jon Favreau's career hasn't budged one bit from its very mediocre beginnings to now. Iron Man just stays the course. It's a hum drum bummer of a flick that kicks off the movie year's second quarter the way Cloverfield did the first.... with a stubbed toe.
If Superman is the golden-boy, Spiderman the wonder-boy, and Batman the rebel, then Favreau and Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man is the guilt-ridden do-gooder. While holding a press conference to announce his company's immediate suspension of producing hi-tech weaponry, Tony Stark sits in front of the podium and addresses a seated media. American cheeseburger in hand (inadvertently bringing to mind Hillary Clinton's recent "drinking whisky with the locals" stab at credulity) , it's his way of breaking down the walls of corporate secrecy and greed that used to anger uppity Vanity Fair journalists (who also, apparently, are very sexually loose...). It's the kind of sunshine beam truth-letting that would give the modern day Sydney Pollock a self-righteous boner.
So far, the general critical consensus is that Robert Downey Jr. pulls off the unlikely casting of himself in a superhero role. I would agree, but merely for the fact that he's been asked to play a hero dripping in snark and ego. Even after his ideological transformation, Tony Stark still craves the limelight and glory. (In the film's final shot when he proudly announces ... "I AM Iron Man" it contradicts the "down with people" press conference mentioned above). Should a superhero be someone that acts in order to selfishly clear his conscience, or someone that selflessly wants to help the needy? Cuz Tony Stark is the former.
It's interesting that comic book movie fans continuously prefer the films that are the least colorful and fantastical of the sub-genre. When I see a movie about a dude with superhuman powers, I don't wanna see the personal emotional turmoil he goes through. I don't want him (or her) to be like me. I wanna see spectacle! Ghost Rider, Daredevil, and Ang Lee's Hulk all either took the opportunity to either relish in the kiddie giddiness of their subjects, and/or, use the comic book format to create interesting, ridiculous, and - (gasp!) - fun imagery for the screen. Jon Favreau's ideas are mediocre, his imagination is mediocre (how does a film called Zathura come out so boring?), and his craft is mediocre. He is Alloy Man.