Where it all began over a decade ago. The year was 2008. The president didn’t powder his face with Cheetos. And the film industry would forever be changed as Iron Man debuted.
I honestly could not recall the last time I watched Iron Man. For no real reason. With DisneyPlus it seemed like there was not an excuse not to. As I hit play, I also thought about how Iron Man was chosen as the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m an avid comic book reader and am familiar with superheroes across the board. But I wonder how many people before this movie came out, who weren’t really comic book fans knew of Iron Man and if that in itself was the secret to the success is the expectations were so low.
While it’s not my favorite Marvel movie, or the best Marvel movie, in rewatching it, the phrase that kept coming to mind was “lightning in a bottle”.
I think whether you enjoy superhero movies or not, the casting of RDJ is undeniably one of best in Hollywood, so much so that many comic books began to slightly alter the versions of Iron Man being drawn to resemble RDJ.
I imagine RDJ was able to put so much life into the character of Iron Man because the lines of Iron Man and the actor RDJ tend to blur. RDJ struggled with substance abuse and addiction, but through recovery he eventually landed the role of Iron Man, which would turn around not only his acting career but his life as well.
Since this is the first MCU movie, I found less flaws and more moments of remembering how green the franchise was still at the time. Throughout the movie a line Michael Scott would say came to mind. “I knew exactly what to do and in a much more real sense, I had no idea what to do”.
There are times during the movie where I was blown away for the first time and moments times I laughed at how simple some things were in it. I kept tally and Tony Stark wears at least 3 different pairs of sunglasses. Tony Stark for being the billionaire he is, never once wears a suit that fits properly. His tie is also never straight and its way too puffy. Really everything about Tony Stark’s aesthetic feels as though crew behind the scenes was just throwing everything at the wall for the first time, which in some sense is true.
One massive aspect of this movie I didn’t remember was how overtly political. The political overtones clearly went over my head as I was a mere 8th grader at the time. But the idea of this multimillionare, philanthropist tech mogul, who’s company does shady business on the side is unsurprisingly, very believable. Elon Musk often feels like a Tony Stark character in society. The way Tony Stark grapples with what his company does morally also sets up the rest of the tone for the MCU. This is a franchise grounded in a world we all are far too familiar with. Yes there are robotic suits, yes superheroes exist, but these stories occur in a world the audience faces everyday too.
Of course the cherry on top of this Sunday movie is something that would change the way audiences sit through a movie, the end credit scene. Now the idea of the end credit scene wasn’t a new concept. Other movies utilized it in different ways, more often than not having the lead talk to the audience like in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or tell the audience to go home like in the Muppet Movie or even show a ‘blooper real’ like in Toy Story. But never did a movie franchise utilize those fleeting moments after the credits wrapped to keep the story going, which is the brilliance of it happening for the firs time in Iron Man because it leaves the audience with this sense that something bigger is brewing.
The cameo from Stan Lee brought tears of sadness and joy. When Tony Stark gently taps Stan Lee on the shoulder and mistakes him for Hue Hefner is so priceless. That moment just reminded me that the creators behind this movie and the following cared so much about the characters and the fans, which would continue to be seen through the following movies.
Iron Man is the foundation of what would become arguably the biggest movie franchise, create a whole genre of movies, define a whole decade of cinema, and with each movie go on to break box office sales. None of that would have been possible without this first movie.