Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard
(PG-13, 126 min.)
"What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger." Albert Camus
Eleven years ago the public spoke – to the tune of its one hundred million dollar opening – and they were tired of all the hand wringing that had come out of Hollywood recently. Ready to abandon the politically correct balderdash and finally go after the bad guys, guns blazing – or that is rockets, flamethrowers, and small nuclear devices to be more precise. Iron Man soars into the box office not only saving the residents of planet earth but the movie going public as well.
We’ve been reinventing and recycling our superheroes for decades now, and it’s about time for a new kid on the block. Iron Man, a brilliantly cast Robert Downey Jr., is missing Superman’s extra terrestrial powers, milk drinking Spiderman’s nerdy innocence, and Batman’s earnest angst. He’s more like America’s version of 007, insouciant, bold, and brash. Like James Bond he has a way with the ladies, but our Tony Stark doesn’t have to answer to any prim M, seeing he is no British bureaucrat but the head of his very own capitalistic venture, one dedicated to inventing the most lethally efficient weapons in the world.
“Some like to say the best weapons are those that never need to be used,” he says. “I like to think that the best ones are used just once.” Pan to a shot of his newest, dubbed Jericho, rendering some distant mountain landscape into so much ash.
I did mention that the film is not particularly politically correct, didn’t I? Not that there isn’t a slight bow to the concept when Tony frets that his weapons have gotten into the wrong hands, just as he has in the opening sequences. Kidnapped and forced to create his worst weapon for his nefarious captors, he plays his own game of deceit, working in secret on his way out of there – a high tech set of body armor with its own built in weapons. Oh, and it can fly as well. The landings, not so much.
Back at his Malibu digs, a kind of space ship looking edifice hovering atop an ocean view, Tony retreats to his underground lab – you didn’t think only Batman had one, did you? – and puts some of that American know how to work. He scores on the comparison to Bond here, too, seeing as Bond has to rely on Q for his stuff, and Tony “hammers” out his own.
Some of the best parts of the film come from his interactions with the stellar cast; all four co-stars are Oscar nominees or recipients, which is pretty darn good for a film based on a comic book. “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow as a redhead) takes Miss Moneypenny to the next level. She’s equally devoted, but more coy, confident, and yes, sexy. And the attraction is mutual here, though it lives on air – verbal fencing, an awkward dance, an almost kiss, and the occasional unadorned truth that tumbles out on its own.
Rhodey (Terrence Howard), his military liaison, puts up with Tony’s whims like an agent with a temperamental star, because he knows who butters his bread. It does lead to a few awkward moments when Iron Man ranges across the military radar and Rhodey has to dissuade a trigger-happy officer from blowing him out of the sky. Nor is his chairman of the board Obadiah Stane, the genuinely handsome Jeff Bridges transformed into a bearded, bald glad hander, particularly happy when Tony swears off weapon designing in an impromptu press conference.
Bold, with a little bit of swagger, as talented and hard working as the boys on TV’s Chopper, Tony is down at times, but he is never out. He is irrepressibly and unabashedly American, admitting his wrongs and determinedly righting them. Our comic books get it right even if our pundits do not.
Like any red-blooded American, what does billionaire industrialist Tony Stark want most after he frees himself from near death in the dark caves of Afghanistan? No, it’s not lobster or filet mignon, and certainly nothing with sauce or a French name. A cheeseburger, of course - well, two of them to be precise, which he wolfs down during his impromptu press conference. Yes, there is something about this ultimate junk/comfort food that is right up there with a teddy bear and “blankie” as far as security mechanisms go.
Tony settles for the fast food variety, but you don’t have to. These ultimate cheeseburgers are, as the cook has warned, a little bit of work, but they are absolutely worth it. And you don’t have to be shot, tortured, and confined to a cave for several months to deserve them.
It’s spring. Heat up the grill and enjoy!
They go great with Roasted Corn with Cilantro Butter, too.
You might also want to try our New York Style Pizza, too, since that seems to be one of Tony's favorites as well.
The Ultimate Cheeseburger
Yield: Six Cheeseburgers
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground sirloin
1/3 cup minced sweet onion
1/4 cup Sutter Home Zinfandel
3 tablespoons minced fresh oregano, thyme, and basil (any combination)
1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons spicy seasoned salt
Oil for brushing grill rack
12 California avocado slices (prepare at the last minute, brushing with balsamic vinegar and sprinkling with spicy seasoned salt before grilling)
12 pre-cooked bacon slices
6 soft Kaiser rolls (about 4 1/2 inches in diameter), split
6 1/2 ounces light garlic-and-herbs cream cheese, spread on rolls
Romaine lettuce leaves
6 large tomato slices, about 1/4 inch thick
In a grill with a cover, prepare a medium-hot fire for direct-heat cooking.
For burgers, place ground beef in a large bowl. Drizzle in onion, Zinfandel, herbs, pepper sauce, and seasoned salt; mix gently. Shape beef mixture into 6 round patties.
Brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Place patties on grill rack, cover, and cook about 4 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until done to preference.
During final minutes of grilling patties, arrange avocado slices on a rimmed nonstick perforated grilling pan coated lightly with oil, and grill alongside patties for 1 to 2 minutes, turning as necessary. During final 30 seconds, add bacon slices to pan. When avocados are nicely grilled and bacon is crisp, remove from grill. When patties are cooked, remove from grill, stacking to keep warm. Place rolls, cut side down, on outer edges of grill to toast lightly.
On each roll bottom, layer lettuce, tomato slice, beef patty, grilled avocado, and bacon. Add roll top and serve.
These burgers are a bit of work, but people will offer you their kidneys in exchange for seconds.
Please consult your cardiologist before consuming.
Recipe Source: cruelhaven.org