Iron Man ( M) Paramount ( 121 minutes) $ 29.95
IT took some persuasion before I agreed to see Iron Man. While I’m inordinately fond of well- made sci fi, I tend to draw the line at Marvel comics on screen. As much as I loved Thor, the Hulk and Captain America when I was 10, I haven’t had much time for them since. However, Iron Man is a selfparodying delight. With his trademark deadpan delivery and gift for physical comedy, Robert Downey Jr seems perfectly cast as rich pantsman and weapons engineer Tony Stark. Aghast to find military hardware he designed in the hands of America’s enemies, he vows to make sure such a thing never happens again. But first he must escape the bearded dudes who have captured and imprisoned him in a cave, where they are forcing him to build a missile. Naturally, he builds a flying suit instead and blasts off to freedom. He lands in the desert with such a thud you’d expect the suit to be full of nothing but blood, plasma products and shattered bone. But this is Marvel and our man is fine. When Stark returns to the US, he has two problems to sort out: who among his team is selling gear to the enemy; and how to refine the suit for further aerial high jinks. The scenes where Stark is testing out the fledgling flying suit could make Lucille Ball howl with laughter. Ably supported by Gwyneth Paltrow, and with a nearunrecognisable Jeff Bridges as the bad guy, Iron Man is an action burger with the lot where you reasonably may have expected only a cheese sandwich.