“Don’t waste your life, Stark” — Iron Man

Iron Man was a part of the large first wave of superheroes co-created by Stan Lee within the early 1960s, in collaboration with quite a lot of artists, primarily Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, but in addition Invoice Everett, Larry Lieber, and Don Heck.

Whereas by no means a headliner within the Marvel Universe, ol’ ShellHead was all the time a serious participant on the very least. He was a founding member of the Avengers, a presence in loads of tales because the inventor (or at the least the proprietor of the corporate that invented) a lot of the Marvel Universe’s fancy tech, the monetary backing of the Avengers, and the centerpiece of a number of main occasions within the comics, from the Kree-Skrull Conflict to the Armor Wars to Operation: Galactic Storm to Civil Struggle.

Because the film rights to most of Marvel’s largest names—Spider-Man, the X-Males, Daredevil, and the Implausible 4—have been already wolfed up by different studios, Marvel determined to focus their nascent Marvel Studios endeavor on the Avengers characters, beginning with Iron Man.

Initially imagined as a latter-day Howard Hughes, Tony Stark is an excellent engineer, a handsome man who’s one thing of a womanizer, and a wealthy, profitable industrialist. I need to say he’s the kind of individual you don’t see in actual life, however there’s Hughes. Nonetheless, not lots of people mix all three of these issues.

Like most of Marvel’s early heroes, Iron Man’s origin was very a lot a product of its time, as Stark’s main technique of creating a dwelling was to construct weapons for america army. Whereas in southeast Asia testing his weapons, he’s taken hostage by an Asian warlord and advised to assemble a weapon for him. As an alternative, he secretly builds a go well with of armor, which additionally serves as a glorified pacemaker, as shrapnel from an explosion is nearing his coronary heart.

In contrast to a number of different modern heroes, Iron Man’s origin has usually been straightforward to replace, primarily as a result of there’s all the time been someplace the place we’ve obtained troops. In 2008, it was Afghanistan, and Stark’s odyssey of armor-creation was straightforward sufficient to relocate there with out altering a lot besides the nationality of his captors. (His comics origin was formally retconned to the Gulf Struggle at one level, and extra lately to the Struggle on Terror, just like the film.)

An Iron Man film was in improvement all through the latter portion of the 20th century, identical to each different Marvel character after Stan Lee moved out to California to drum up film offers. Lee himself co-wrote a remedy for an IM movie with Jeff Vintar. Among the many names hooked up to direct through the years: Stuart Gordon, Quentin Tarantino (actually!), Joss Whedon, and Nick Cassavetes. Each Nicolas Cage and Tom Cruise had expressed curiosity in enjoying the title position, and different scripts have been executed by Jeffrey Caine, Tim McCanlies, and Alfred Gough & Miles Millar, amongst others.

Lastly, in 2005, Marvel determined to start out from scratch and launch Iron Man by means of their very own studio arm. They noticed how profitable Darkish Horse had been producing their very own movies, and in addition realized how rather more cash they’d have made off of the Spider–Man and X-Males films in the event that they’d produced them themselves as an alternative of promoting the rights to different studios.

Jon Favreau, who’d needed to work with Marvel once more after Daredevil, was employed to direct, and he additionally co-starred as Completely happy Hogan. Favreau mixed two scripts, and offered a film that mixed the character’s origin in Tales of Suspense #39 by Lee, Lieber, and Heck with Denny O’Neil’s ongoing 1980s arc in Iron Man that chronicled Obadiah Stane’s sluggish takeover of Stark Worldwide and their eventual confrontation in Iron Man #200, Stane now in armor because the Iron Monger.

The success of the Spider- and X-movies with none A-list stars helped Favreau persuade Marvel to not go for an enormous identify to star. In truth, his unique thought was to go together with an unknown, however he went with Robert Downey Jr. partially as a result of Downey Jr.’s personal life’s ups and downs, together with all his private travails being within the public eye, mirror Stark’s within the film.

At this level, the notion of an interconnected universe was in its formative levels, however producer Kevin Feige did, at the very least, intend for the characters that Marvel Studios had controlling curiosity of to all exist in the identical continuum. To that finish, Downey Jr. made a cameo in The Unimaginable Hulk between this film and its 2010 sequel.

The forged consists of a number of people who would recur all through what would ultimately be the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Apart from Downey Jr. as Stark (who has, as of this writing, appeared in 9 movies, and is at the least talked about in three others) and Favreau as Hogan (4 movies), there’s Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts (six movies), Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. (4 movies, a number of shorts, and the star of Marvel’s Brokers of S.H.I.E.L.D. for 5 seasons), Terence Howard as Jim Rhodes (the character seems in 5 subsequent movies performed by Don Cheadle), Paul Bettany because the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. (5 movies, plus three extra because the Imaginative and prescient, for which the J.A.R.V.I.S. AI was a template), and, in fact, Samuel L. Jackson’s cameo within the post-credits scene as Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., the primary of ten appearances (to date) by Jackson in both a movie or a TV episode within the MCU. All of the above characters are scheduled for extra appearances, too….

 

“You’re a man who has everything and nothing”

Iron Man
Written by Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Artwork Marcum & Matt Holloway
Directed by Jon Favreau
Produced by Avi Arad and Kevin Feige
Unique launch date: Might 2, 2008

In Afghanistan, Tony Stark is being ferried in a Humvee by three airmen. They’re nervous round him at first, however he himself breaks the ice they usually’re asking him questions on his intercourse life and asking for selfies to be taken with him.

Out of the blue, they’re beneath assault. All three escorts are killed, and Stark is caught in an explosion. He wakes as much as discover himself being filmed with individuals round him speaking in a overseas tongue.

We then zip again 36 hours to Las Vegas, the place Stark is receiving an award. A video presentation supplies exposition on his historical past: his father, Howard Stark, labored on the Manhattan Undertaking; Tony was a toddler prodigy, graduating with honors from MIT; a automotive accident claimed Howard and his spouse Maria when Tony was a teen; Obadiah Stane, Howard’s enterprise companion, ran the enterprise till Tony was of age; now Stark and Stane run the corporate collectively.

Stark is busy playing and subsequently misses getting the award, introduced by his childhood pal Colonel James Rhodes and accepted by Stane. Stark is ambushed by Christine Everhart of Vainness Truthful about his work as a weapons producer. Stark defends his decisions, and winds up convincing Everhart to fly again to Malibu with him and spend the night time.

The subsequent morning, Stark’s assistant Pepper Potts provides Everhart her (freshly dry-cleaned) garments and Stark’s good needs, in addition to a wholesome dose of snark. Stark himself is downstairs engaged on one in every of his many classic automobiles. He exhibits up three hours late for his flight to Afghanistan with Rhodes, the place he’s to exhibit Stark Industries’ new Jericho missile system.

The demo is a large success—after which, on the best way again to the airfield, they’re ambushed. Earlier than he falls right into a coma, Stark notices that they’ve been attacked by Stark weapons.

Stark wakes as much as discover one other scientist who’s prisoner of the terrorists who attacked the convoy: Yinsen, who was capable of maintain the teeny-tiny bits of shrapnel from occluding Stark’s coronary heart by use of an electromagnet hooked as much as a automotive battery. The terrorists, who name themselves “the Ten Rings,” pressure Stark to construct certainly one of his Jericho missiles for them. Stark reluctantly agrees—after which proceeds to do his personal factor. With Yinsen’s assist, he builds a miniature ARC reactor, which extra effectively retains his coronary heart protected. Then, beneath the duvet of constructing a missile, he as an alternative constructs a go well with of armor that shall be powered by the reactor in his chest.

Yinsen advised Stark at one level that he’ll see his household when he leaves this place. Solely when he sacrifices his life to purchase Stark time to energy up the armor does Stark understand that his household is lifeless—he all the time meant to die to flee imprisonment. Stark thanks him for saving his life and Yinsen’s dying phrases are to induce him to not waste that life.

The armored Stark makes brief work of the Ten Rings terrorists, and tries to fly away after destroying their weapons depot. Nevertheless, the jet boots don’t fairly work as he’d hoped, and he crash-lands. Nevertheless, the conflagration obtained the eye of the U.S. army, and he’s rescued by a staff led by Rhodes.

Stark returns to the U.S. battered, bruised, and livid that his weapons have wound up in terrorist arms. As an alternative of going to a hospital, he goes to Burger King, as he’s jonesing for a cheeseburger, after which calls a press convention and pronounces that Stark is getting out of the weapons enterprise—a revelation that shocks each Stane and Rhodes.

Stane does injury management, first with the press, then with the Board of Administrators, and in addition means that Stark lay low to get well and provides him an opportunity to try this injury management. Stark spends his time within the basement of his home engaged on a greater go well with of armor, beginning with a greater miniature ARC reactor. (He tells Potts to throw the one he made in Afghanistan away, however she as an alternative places it in lucite with a plaque that reads, “PROOF THAT TONY STARK HAS A HEART.”)

In Afghanistan, Raza, the chief of the Ten Rings group that kidnapped Stark, manages to reconstruct the armor Stark constructed. In the meantime, Stane reluctantly informs Stark that the Board of Administrators has voted to sanction him.

After a number of weeks of testing the brand new armor, Stark goes off to attend a celebration, saying hello to Hugh Hefner (who seems to be identical to Stan Lee), and seeing Potts in a lovely gown that he apparently purchased for her. (Which means she purchased it for herself together with his cash.) He dances together with her, which she finds awkward, as a result of he’s her boss. He gives to fireside her, and she or he factors out rightly that he wouldn’t final 5 minutes with out her. They go to the roof to get some air they usually virtually kiss earlier than they keep in mind that it will be inappropriate. Stark presents to get her a drink, and whereas he’s ready for it, Everhart confronts him with footage of terrorist cells within the Center East which have Stark weapons. Stark is furious, and confronts Stane, who admits that he was the one who sanctioned him.

Stark places on the armor and flies to Afghanistan to destroy the cache of Stark weapons. He then will get into it with two Air Drive planes (and initially lies to Rhodes about the place he’s when Rhodes suspects him). One of many planes is broken, the pilot bailing out, however his chute gained’t deploy. Stark dangers his life to save lots of the pilot’s life, then flies off.

After returning residence, Stark sends Potts to repeat information off of the Stark server, and one of many issues she finds is the video that was recorded proper after Stark was kidnapped. The Ten Rings attacked the convoy with orders to kill everybody, not understanding that Stark was one of many targets. They kidnapped him and used him slightly than kill him as Stane instructed. However Stane is the one who ordered the hit.

For his half, Stane—who has already gone to Afghanistan and killed Raza and his individuals to tie up unfastened ends (stating to Raza that if he’d killed Stark like he was imagined to, this might by no means have occurred)—visits Potts, hoping to grill her for details about Stark. Solely after she leaves does he understand that she pulled information off the server.

Agent Phil Coulson of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division has been making an attempt to debrief Stark since he obtained again from Afghanistan. With Stane now after her, Potts confides in Coulson, who summons extra brokers to guard her.

Stane, nevertheless, already obtained to Stark, having used a neural paralyzer to immobilize him after which take away the reactor from his chest, condemning him to demise. Stane has been constructing his personal armor since killing Raza, however the different scientists in his make use of have been unable to miniaturize the reactor. (Stane’s livid grievance that Stark constructed one in a cave with scraps is met with a really meek reminder that they’re none of them Tony Stark.) So Stane steals Stark’s glorified pacemaker.

Whereas Stark is ready to stumble downstairs to the basement to place within the previous reactor that Potts had made into an award, Potts and Coulson don’t arrive at Stark Industries in time—Stane has placed on his personal armor (which is method greater than Stark’s), and he kilos the crap out of the S.H.I.E.L.D. brokers. Earlier than he can kill Potts, Stark exhibits up in his armor. Whereas he’s no match for Stane immediately, particularly with the lesser reactor powering his armor, he is ready to occupy him lengthy sufficient for Potts to overload the large-scale reactor that powers Stark Industries with Stane on prime of it.

Stane and Stark’s battle was public, and the media refers back to the red-and-gold-armored one that attacked the depot and fought the larger armored individual as “Iron Man.” S.H.I.E.L.D. creates a canopy story for each Stark and Stane, and in addition say that Iron Man is Stark’s bodyguard. Nevertheless as an alternative of confirming the duvet story, Stark admits that he’s Iron Man on the press convention.

After the credit, Stark arrives house to seek out Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., already there, telling him that he’s a part of a a lot bigger universe now (ahem), and in addition mentions one thing referred to as the Avengers Initiative.

 

“I’m just not the hero type”

Again in 2008, I noticed Iron Man on the late, lamented Ziegfeld Theatre, and the usher needed to inform everybody who got here in, “Stay all the way through all the credits. Trust me.” On the one hand, that appears quaint ten years on—on the opposite, there are nonetheless individuals who depart Marvel films earlier than the credit are carried out, so there you go. Nevertheless, I simply love that Marvel Studios began the entire post-credits factor, because it’s a pleasure. They haven’t all the time landed (I’m taking a look at you, Guardians of the Galaxy), however they’re typically a stunning Easter egg to the hardcore followers.

Extra to the purpose, although, they get individuals to take a seat by way of the credit. Which it is best to do anyhow, these individuals labored exhausting on this film, they usually deserve it. I despise the present development in tv to shrink closing credit to nothing whereas advertisements run, as a result of the entire level of credit is to be learn. These are individuals who did a superb job and helped make the film occur, dagnabbit!

Anyhow, ten years later, no one has to remind anybody to take a seat via to the top of a Marvel film, however it was an enormous deal right here. Up till Stark walked in to seek out Fury in his home, this was But One other Standalone Superhero Film, identical to a lot of the others I’ve accomplished on this rewatch thus far. After which Fury exhibits up and says he’s a part of a much bigger universe (Marvel has all the time referred to their milieu of superheroes as “the Marvel universe”) and he drops the phrase “Avengers” and each fanboy coronary heart goes squee as a result of proper there we’ve been promised the one factor that just one feature-length adaptation (the primary two Unimaginable Hulk TV films of the late 1980s) had achieved.

Just about each superhero comedian guide line has been interconnected, from World Warfare II (whenever you had superheroes teaming as much as battle the Axis powers) ahead. Principally this interconnectedness was seen in staff books—the Invaders throughout WW2, the Justice Society of America within the 1950s, the Justice League of America and the Avengers within the 1960s, and so forth—plus in team-up books (Marvel Group-Up, The Courageous and the Daring).

However the display variations by no means adopted go well with, principally as a result of the rights to the characters all the time wound up with totally different studios. With Marvel Studios controlling this set of characters themselves, Kevin Feige was capable of lastly re-create that one facet of superhero comics that had lengthy been lacking from their display variations.

All that from one post-credits scene, however that’s the least of why Iron Man is a wonderful movie. It’s all properly and good to need to create a coherent universe, however that’s much less related than truly making a superb film (one thing that others who’ve tried to re-create the MCU’s success have typically forgotten; I’m taking a look at you, Tom Cruise’s The Mummy).

Fortunately, Iron Man is an excellent film, which is among the essential explanation why the MCU has been a hit for a decade now. It begins off brilliantly, establishing Stark’s character shortly and effectively as he sits in a Humvee holding his drink regular because it bounces by way of the desert and chatting together with his escorts. It’s to the credit score of Favreau and the screenwriters that this scene is so brilliantly efficient, as we solely have a couple of minutes to get to know these characters earlier than they’re shot at. They don’t simply redshirt the three airmen, they’re three individuals you truly care about, so it issues (to us and to Stark) once we see them die.

Wanting again ten years on, you’ll be able to see the “Marvel formula” for an origin film: flawed individual has an eye-opening expertise that results in that individual being put able to turn out to be a hero. Typically the heroic intuition is already there, however they’re prevented from fulfilling it, and typically they should go on the journey to develop into a hero. Iron Man is assuredly the latter, because the Stark we meet on the prime of the movie is an enthralling asshole. It takes the trauma of being kidnapped, and of seeing his weapons being utilized by terrorists, to wake him up and make him flip himself right into a superhero.

What’s particularly fascinating concerning the film is that it departs from the comics in a number of distinctive methods, the most important being Robert Downey Jr.’s efficiency. His wiseass portrayal of Stark has develop into the cornerstone of the MCU, so it’s straightforward to overlook that it bears solely a passing resemblance to the character that Stark has had within the comics since 1963. However then, Stark has all the time been very a lot a product of the 1960s, the suave, cool, debonair jet-setter that was a very robust archetype in that decade. Downey Jr.’s portrayal is extra applicable for the 2000s, and he completely makes it work.

Plus, like all good adaptation, the essence of Stark stays the identical: he’s a genius industrialist with a number of character flaws who has to ante up and be a hero. It was much less of a journey in Tales of Suspense #39, however that was additionally the primary of an ongoing month-to-month collection of tales. Iron Man wanted to inform a narrative in and of itself, and an enormous a part of what makes the film compelling is Stark’s journey from uncaring asshole who provides his main award away to an actor in a Caesar costume, who performs cube as an alternative of accepting that award, who sleeps with a reporter making an attempt to do a bit on him, who brings a drinks cupboard alongside together with his crates of weapons to a demo—right into a hero, into somebody who will break a no-fly zone to save lots of youngsters from being killed by terrorists wielding weapons he designed.

He’s additionally surrounded by an outstanding forged. Gwyneth Paltrow is radiant as Pepper Potts, Stark’s private assistant and one thing vaguely resembling a love curiosity. It’s truly performed rather well, because it ends, not with the kiss and declaration of affection that films have educated us to anticipate, however as an alternative with Potts tartly reminding Stark that he left her on a rooftop ready for a drink that by no means got here as a result of he received sidetracked by Everhart displaying him footage of terrorists utilizing his weapons. The chemistry between Downey Jr. and Paltrow is great—and can stay so by way of a number of films—however the relationship can also be fraught, because the journey Stark goes on right here is just not one he’s even remotely completed happening.

One of many knocks on the MCU has been the comparative weak spot of the villains. Often the exceptions cited are Loki and, extra just lately, the Vulture and Killmonger, however no one ever mentions Jeff Bridges as Stane, and I can’t for the lifetime of me perceive why, as he’s completely incredible. The revelation that he’s the dangerous man is much less efficient if you already know the comics—Stane was an unrepentant dangerous man within the comics, a rival to Stark from the second he first appeared in Iron Man #163, and arguably the villain who harm Stark probably the most, as he assisted his descent into alcoholism and took his firm away from him. Right here, Stane is a trusted ally who seems to be a snake within the grass (a theme the MCU will come again to greater than as soon as), and Bridges is magnificent within the position. He brings his relaxed appeal to the position, wanting dapper in his brightly coloured fits and his pinky ring and his all the time placing an arm round Stark, and all of it hides a ruthless streak that we actually don’t see till he kills Raza. Even then, the avuncular mien that lulls you right into a false sense of safety stays up virtually your complete time—the one time it doesn’t is when he rips the scientist a brand new one for not with the ability to miniaturize the ARC reactor.

After which we now have Clark Gregg. Initially a one-off walk-on position to determine S.H.I.E.L.D.’s existence, Gregg’s skilled deadpan makes Coulson right into a massively compelling character. His easy competence on this movie would result in him turning into the glue that holds the primary set of MCU movies collectively, and later starring in his personal TV present.

One shouldn’t overlook Shaun Toub. Yinsen is an understated however necessary position within the creation of Iron Man. His arc on this film is identical because the character’s within the comics, and Toub performs it superbly. He is aware of his destiny, and he is aware of his solely probability at redemption is to assist Stark. He helps create a hero, and that’s his legacy, even when it’s one which solely Stark is aware of about. And Paul Bettany is a delight as J.A.R.V.I.S., the AI that runs Stark’s home and later the Iron Man armor. (The TV collection Agent Carter will later set up Edwin Jarvis as Howard Stark’s butler, and one suspects the naming of the AI after him is because of fond reminiscences of Jarvis that Tony has from when he was a child.)

The opposite performances are a bit extra hit-and-miss. Terence Howard creates little or no impression as Rhodes—the re-casting with Don Cheadle will show to be buying and selling up, and in addition to, it freed Howard to star in Empire, which is a a lot better position for him—Faran Tahir is disappointing as Raza, and Favreau is surprisingly nondescript as Glad Hogan (although future movies will do higher with him).

Even when this wasn’t the vanguard of probably the most profitable collection of flicks within the historical past of the universe, this may be an excellent superhero film. Stark’s heroic journey—which may have many many many bumps within the street—will proceed to be a theme all through the whole MCU (two extra of his personal films, in addition to all of the Avengers films and one every of the Captain America and Spider-Man movies), and the beginning of it’s a basic, with an amazing villain, a robust plot, and a climax that properly permits Stark and Potts to collaborate.

 

Subsequent week, we take a look at what was, in essence, a mulligan on Ang Lee, in addition to the primary crossover since (appropriately) The Trial of the Unimaginable Hulk, as we take a look at Edward Norton’s one-movie tenure as The Unimaginable Hulk.

Keith R.A. DeCandido has by no means truly written Iron Man, although he’s written Spider-Man, the Hulk, the unique X-Males, the Silver Surfer, Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three. Nevertheless, he did edit a collection of Marvel novels within the 1990s that included two Iron Man novels by Greg Cox, a Spider-Man/Iron Man team-up novel by Danny Fingeroth, Eric Fein, & Pierce Askegren, an Avengers novel by Askegren (which included ol’ ShellHead), and an Avengers/X-Males trilogy by Cox (ditto).