In 1968, English author, Ted Hughes, published a book called, “The Iron Man.” (has nothing to do with Marvel’s Iron Man) The Premise is about a boy who encounters a massive robot from space, as he teaches him humanity & and helps him adapt to his surroundings on Earth. Two Decades Later, The Who guitarist, Pete Townshend, adapted the book as a rock musical. This caught the attention of an animator who pitched an outline to animator/director, Don Bluth, (An American Tall, The Secret Of Nimh, The Land Before Time) as an offer on a proposed project to adapt this musical into a full length animated feature film. Don however, gave it a pass, because he was busy working on Rock-A-Doodle with Glen Campbell.
In 1996, Warner Bros. (WB for short) acquired the film rights to The Iron Man. They recruited former Simpsons animator, Brad Bird, (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) to adapt it. In one condition, Brad will only work on it as a non-musical film. After a three year period of development, the project was renamed as The Iron Giant. WB didn’t wanna get sued by Marvel for title infringement for the use of Iron Man.
The Iron Giant opened in theaters worldwide in 1999. At the time of its release, it received positive reviews from critics. Unfortunately, it didn’t make enough revenue at the box office. Overtime, the film became a cult classic. As a result of massive popularity, Media Mogul, Ted Turner, aired a 24 Hour marathon on Cartoon Network & TNT on The Fourth Of July & Thanksgiving. In 2016, Brad released a “Signature Edition” in selected theaters for a limited time and finally released it on Blu-Ray/DVD.
If you recall seeing a trailer of The Iron Giant in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, I’ve decided to look back at this underrated masterpiece to prevent you fans from suffering a colossal case of feeling impatient. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Brad’s upcoming The Incredibles II, coming out this June!
The following review doesn’t contain tremendous SPOILERS. Feel free to read this article, if you’ve never ever ever seen the entire thing from beginning to end.
Strong & Weak Aspects
Strong: Vin Diesel, Christopher McDonald, Jennifer Aniston & Harry Connick, Jr. all did an excellent job on their respective performances.
Fun Fact: Before Vin Diesel signed on to voice the title character. Peter Cullen, (Optimus Prime) Sean Connery & James Earl Jones were considered for the part.
Animation is depicted in traditional hand drawn 2D format. Its style reminded me old school Disney cartoons mixed with The Silver Age Of Comics.
The titular character is brought to life with a combination of both traditional animation & computer animation. According to the animators, this is the first time a character is created in computer generated imagery in a two-dimensional animated film.
Brad Bird did a lot of extensive research on The 1950’s, back when America had a positive image, but deep down inside their heads, they were paranoid on nuclear weapons during The Cold War.
Chemistry between The Iron Giant & Hogarth felt natural, every time their onscreen together, you really care about them. I bet James Gunn took some notes on them, so he can make his own bromance between Groot & Rocket from Guardians Of The Galaxy.
In The Signature Edition of the film, we kinda learn about where The Giant originally came from, prior to crash landing on Earth.
Superhero comics are used as a plot device to foreshadow The Giant’s true destiny. Speaking of superheroes, Vin Diesel went on to work at Marvel Studios as Groot. Brad went on to direct The Incredibles. This also counts as a double reference to both Disney & Marvel related properties.
Joe Vargas/Angry Joe if you’re reading this, The Giant becomes fascinated with Superman. For those of you who don’t know Angry Joe, he’s a video game/film critic from Channel Awesome.
Without giving too much away, The Giant has a flaw within his defense mechanism that causes him to retaliate back at his attackers.
One character did a jab on The Duck & Cover Safety Video. He has a point on why this video doesn’t work out in real life situations. It’s all nonsense.
Arc Words are: “You are who you choose to be.”
Primary Themes for the film are, Friendship, Destiny, Morality & Loss. Each of them are handled carefully for an animated kids movie.
Another important element is loosely based on Brad’s personal life about his late sister. If you’ve watched a behind the scenes interview with Brad taking about the themes of the film, you’ll understand why.
In The Signature Edition, A television commercial under the name, “Tomorrowland,” is shown with The Giant’s hand is flipping through channels. Brad worked on a film adaptation with George Clooney.
After The Giant eats half of a car, the license plate is labeled, “A11,” you know what The Giant ate? The Number 3! The entire number is A113. It’s a reference to Brad Bird’s classroom located in The California Institute Of The Arts, (CalArts for short) where he used to attend regulary as a student along with Pixar co-founder, John Lasseter.
If you have a sensitive side, I refuse to tell you The Ending. You’re gonna have to see for yourself.
Weak: Honestly, I couldn’t find any problems with the movie. I’m gonna give Brad an Extra Point for making his directorial debut as flawless as possible.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
In my opinion, The Iron Giant is an underrated timeless masterpiece. This is the movie that encouraged Hollywood to recruit Vin Diesel for his signature roles as Riddick, Triple XXX, Dominic Toretto in The Fast In The Furious franchise & Groot in The Marvel Cinematic Universe. (MCU for short) If you’ve never seen this movie, I strongly recommend The Signature Edition, which is currently available on Blu-Ray/DVD. That’ll keep you busy before The Incredibles II comes out.
Dont forget to gear up for Ready Player One if you’re excited to see The Iron Giant’s return!