Downey a superhero

No question — Robert Downey Jr. is a great actor who can be absolutely riveting. That’s why I think “Iron Man” might stand out among the overabundance of big-screen adaptations of comic book heroes.

Downey stars as Tony Stark, a rich industrialist who is captured by terrorists in Afghanistan. Ordered to build a missile for them, Stark instead builds a power armor suit and escapes to America. He improves his suit to the point that he emerges as the tech superhero “Iron Man.” Gwyneth Paltrow plays Stark’s secretary. Shaun Toub, a Persian Jewish actor highly acclaimed for his role as the Iranian shopkeeper in the 2004 Oscar winner “Crash,” has a supporting role as a doctor who aids Stark.

The Iron Man character was created by Marvel Comics’ founder Stan Lee, his brother Larry Lieber (Stan Lee was born Stan Lieber) and the late graphic artist Jack Kirby.

Opening Friday, May 2, “Iron Man,” is directed by Jon Favreau (“Elf”), who is married to Dr. Joy Tillem, a Sonoma native. He says he cast Downey because of Downey’s past history of drug abuse: “The best and worst moments of Robert’s life have been in the public eye,” Favreau said. “He had to find an inner balance to overcome obstacles that went far beyond his career. That’s Tony Stark. Robert brings a depth that goes beyond a comic book character who is having trouble in high school or can’t get the girl.”

Downey, whose paternal grandfather was Jewish, wed film producer Susan Levin in 2005 in a Jewish ceremony and now describes himself as a “Jew-Bu” (a Jew who practices forms of Buddhist meditation and spirituality). He credits Levin as being critical to his personal and career recovery.

When Tom loves Hannah

Also opening Friday, May 2, is the romantic comedy “Made of Honor.” “Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey plays Tom, a ladies’ man who won’t settle down. His best friend is the beautiful Hannah (Michelle Monaghan). Hannah goes to Scotland for a six-week trip and when she’s gone, Tom realizes he is in love with Hannah. When Hannah returns, however, she tells Tom that she’s engaged to a handsome Scotsman and that she plans to marry in Scotland and settle there. She asks Tom to be her “maid of honor” and Tom agrees. He hopes that by staying close to Hannah he can win her heart before the wedding.

Oscar-winning director Sydney Pollack plays Tom’s father. The pretty redhead Jamie Ray Newman, 30, plays one of Hannah’s best friends. The director is England’s Paul Weiland. In 2006, he directed the English feature film, “Sixty Six,” based loosely on Weiland’s own bar mitzvah in 1966.

Over at Fox News

In my last column, I listed some of the Jewish journalists who appear on CNN and MSNBC. A friend was kind enough to inform me that I missed NBC news chief Washington correspondent, David Gregory, who was just given his own MSNBC show, “The Race for the White House.” Last month, Gregory appeared at United Jewish Communities conference on Jewish identity. He said that he has recently become more religiously observant.

Over at Fox News there’s Geraldo Rivera, the host of “Geraldo at Large.” Rivera’s late mother was Jewish, and he was raised Jewish and identifies as Jewish. Also Jewish: Alan Colmes, the co-host of “Hannity and Colmes”; anchor Chris Wallace, the son of Mike Wallace and Mike’s first wife (also Jewish); and regular contributors Dr. Micahel Baden, Bernard Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol and Mara Liasson.

Nate Bloom

Nate Bloom writes the "Celebrity Jews" column for J.