Forget about all the fantastic action. Dismiss the disarmingly smart, wry screenplay, and ignore the phenomenal supporting cast. Feel free to overlook the dozen components that make Jon Favreau'sIron Man the most uniquely entertaining superhero movie in a long time ... I've got the one main reason that this flick is worthy of your two hours and ten bucks right here, and that reason is named Robert Downey Jr. Like many movie fans of my generation, I consider Downey to be sort of an old friend. We all wept when Jami Gertz noticed his odd demise in Less Than Zero, we loved watching his evolution in films like True Believer and Chaplin, and we all felt pretty great when the guy finally kicked his well-publicized drug addiction.

Downey is a survivor, no doubt, and he's also a refreshingly engaging actor to watch -- and boy was I thrilled when Marvel announced that this would be the guy to portray Tony Stark. To those who don't know the Stark character from the comic books, let me just make it clear: Downey is the perfect guy to play a smug yet charming, sarcastic yet likable, and perpetually womanizing multi-billionaire mega-genius with a bum ticker. We all know the guy can play sly, snarky, smart characters, so much of Iron Man's early stuff is light lifting for the actor -- but when he starts getting angry? Noble? Heroic? The guy is aces across the board. Bottom Line: Downey has paid his dues, he's been through a lot of hell, and now he's a freakin' superhero who delivers the best popcorn flick performance since Johnny Depp first played pirate. Sometimes Hollywood actually works.