In 1963, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby created a character named “Iron Man.” The character was first conceived when Stan decided to create his own Bruce Wayne type of alter ego named, Tony Stark. Tony’s appearance and behavior is based on Howard Hughes. Iron Man was specifically published as a representation of anti-communism during The Cold War in terms of a nuclear warfare. Stan confirmed that Iron Man was meant for readers that war is wrong. He wanted a character who’s capable of preventing a nuclear holocaust from coming true.
The origin story of Iron Man was published in “Tales Of Suspense” issue number 39. During The Vietnam War, Tony Stark assisted The U.S. Military by developing weapons to aid them in combat. Suddenly, he accidentally stumbles upon a booby trap critically wounding him due to a piece of shrapnel inside his chest. The Vietnamese Army capture Tony, against his will, he’s forced to develop a nuclear weapon in exchange to prevent the shrapnel from killing him. After a kindly old man named Yinsen, placed a pacemaker like device which magnetizes the shrapnel from piercing his heart, Tony refuses to build the nuclear weapon and decides to invent a bulky suit of armor that’ll help him escape. He manages to defeat his captors successfully and got away. After returning home, Tony begins his career as a superhero dubbed Iron Man, to fight terrorists and protect civilians.
Over the years, Iron Man fought a rogue gallery of villains including his archenemy The Mandarin, Crimson Dynamo, Iron Monger, Justin Hammer, Fin Fang Foom & MODOK.
His allies who help him on his adventures such as his best friend James “Rhodey Rhodes/War Machine, his secretary Pepper Potts, his butler Jarvis & his bodyguard Happy Hogan. Besides his close friends, Iron Man is a member of The Avengers, led by Captain America, together they form a band of superheroes to combat powerful opponents like Loki, Ultron, Thanos, Red Skull, Kang among many other deadly foes.
Iron Man is one of Marvel’s most popular superheroes of all time, appearing in cartoons, video games, crossing over with characters most notably Spider-Man and merchandise consisting of action figures, t-shirts, costumes, silverware, posters, collectibles etc.
Prior to Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal as the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, a film adaptation was in development since The 1990’s. Universal Pictures was considered to produce a low budget film, until Six Years Later, Fox bought the films right from Universal. Several A-List actors such as Nicolas Cage & Tom Cruise were considered to play the title character. Nicolas was busy working on a cancelled Superman film with Tim Burton & Tom turned it down because he was working with his then wife Nicole Kidman in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. Quentin Tarantino was originally gonna direct but he turned it down in favor of directing Jackie Brown.
Development of Iron Man finally resurfaced when Hollywood studios successfully capitalize on superhero films in The 2000’s including the X-Men series, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy & Christopher Nolan rebooting Batman. Producer, Kevin Feige felt encouraged surrounding the financial and critical success on what the superhero genre can do in terms of storytelling. He wanted to create a cohesive narrative by expanding the mythology based on individual characters then crossing them together for a big event much like the comics when every single character bands together to fight a much powerful threat beyond their capabilities. Thus, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born. (MCU for short)
Director/Actor, Jon Favreau personally selected Robert Downey Jr. after seeing his performance in Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. When Robert won the part, Marvel fans and the general public were shocked upon learning that Robert will play the title character. The reason why people freaked out, is because Robert used to have a drug problem, which resulted in him getting fired on the set of Ally McBeal. After Iron Man was released, fans and movie goers were satisfied that Robert has finally got his career back on track as well as feeling sober.
Iron Man was released in 2008. (same year Tropic Thunder came out) The first installment in the MCU earned critical acclaim from critics, fans & movie goers alike. Plus, it made enough revenue at the box office.
The following review is a NON-SPOILER review. If you’ve never seen the film that started the MCU in production order, feel free to read it.
Shiny & Rusty Aspects
Shiny: Robert Downey Jr did an excellent job for his performance as the title character. Much like Hugh Jackman’s performance as Wolverine, Rob is born to play the role as Iron Man. His career comeback is similar to John Travolta’s role in Pulp Fiction prior to John’s epic failure known as Battlefield Earth.
Other Cast Members such as Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau, Shaun Toub, Paul Bettany & Clark Gregg all did a great job on their respective performances.
Jon Favreau also did a great job on directing and doing extensive research with Kevin Feige to study the mythology of Iron Man.
Paul Bettany voices Tony’s A.I. named “JARVIS.” In the comics, Jarvis was originally Tony’s butler. Favreau decided to change the character into an A.I. because he doesn’t want the audience to think Jarvis is a rip-off of Alfred Pennyworth from Batman. I’m ok with the change as long as Marvel doesn’t get sued by DC.
Clark Gregg’s character Agent Phil Coulson, makes his debut. He went on to become a prominent figure in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. He’s now part of the mainstream comics.
Action Sequences are filled with high-octane fights filled with bullets, missiles, flames & a Climatic Battle between Stark and someone wearing a similar suit of armor.
Visual Effects are spectacularly gorgeous. They’re the meat behind Iron Man’s armor. I’m giving the effects team, Bonus Points for all the hard work for bringing Iron Man’s armor to life.
Humor in this film managed to make me laugh, especially Tony testing out his equipment.
Instead of the origin story set in Vietnam, the movie is set in modern times during The War In Afghanistan.
Composer, Ramin Djawadi (Game Of Thrones, Westworld) orchestrated the soundtrack.
In addition to Ramin, Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave guitarist, Tom Morello also contributed to the soundtrack. He also makes a cameo appearance as a member of The Ten Rings. Don’t believe me, pause your TV at the 0:35:39 mark. I guess Tom felt honored to fight Iron Man onscreen. Believe or not, he’s a huge fan of comics.
In almost every Marvel related movie tradition, Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance.
Cinematography felt solid without any technical issues whatsoever.
The film shows us the origin story of Tony Stark, based on his first appearance. Besides his journey into becoming Iron Man, we also learn he’s a child prodigy on why he’s a capable inventor. I’ll give the producers an Extra Point for incorporating the bulky silver armor from the first issue as Tony’s first suit armor before he built the red yellow armor.
The best way to describe Tony’s personality, is a combination of Bill Murray’s character, Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters & Kanye West. Henry Cavill if you’re reading this, what you lack for portraying Superman in Man Of Steel, is charisma.
Character Development involving Tony, as he goes from a self-absorbed ego maniacal womanizing billionaire who only cares about himself, to a one man army pacifist who wants to save civilians from terrorists.
Chemistry between Tony & Pepper, felt organic, I think they’re meant for each other.
My favorite line is, “I prefer the weapon you only need to fire once, that’s how dad did it, that’s how America does it and it worked out pretty well.”
The terrorist organization who kidnaps Tony are called, “The Ten Rings.” A subtle Easter Egg to Iron Man’s archenemy, The Mandarin, known for using ten magical rings in battle.
Yen Sin mentioned wounds as he calls em’ “Walking Dead.” Two Years Later AMC adapted the comic book into a television series. AMC felt motivated by Iron Man to attempt the same success in adapting a comic book series.
Ray’s Pizza Boxes from Elf, appears in one scene. Does it mean Elf is secretly part of the MCU?
Tony orders a vodka martini. Wait a minute! That’s James Bond’s favorite drink! Quantum Of Solace also came out the same year as Iron Man!
Before Tony strikes back at members of The Ten Rings, he said, “My turn!” Somebody’s been watching V For Vendetta! Both Hugo Weaving & Natalie Portman later co-starred in separate films set in the MCU. Hugo portrayed Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger & Natalie portrayed Jane Foster in Thor and it’s sequel The Dark World.
Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man,” is played during The End Credits Sequence.
A Post-Credits Scene features a famous bald actor. I’ll give you a hint, he’s Quentin Tarantino’s lucky charm.
Rusty: Product Placement featuring the follow brands including Apple, Burger King, Verizon & Dell. I’ll give this flaw a pass, because I couldn’t find any other brand to shove down my throat.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Iron Man is one of the best Marvel films of all time and I’m so happy that it expanded a universe filled with familiar characters appearing in films & television. If you’re a first timer who’s never seen the MCU movies, I strongly recommend this Iron Man.
Kevin Feige and employees at Marvel, thank you for introducing a new generation of fans by building a fully detailed universe featuring characters we all know in love. You did an excellent job for creating a complex universe, taking a bunch of risks both creatively and financially.