In 2008, following a long term history that saw Marvel Comics nearly liquidation and the offer of huge numbers of the distributer’s property rights to large name creation organizations, Marvel Studios, at last, delivered its first independent feature-length film dependent on one of its less notable characters.
As the first entry in the long-standing franchise, Iron Man can seem like the wise old man of the group, but in fact, it’s the linchpin of the universe. Setting the precedent for everything that followed, it broke ground on uncharted territory before the full conceptual groundwork for the MCU had been laid out.
Critics often acclaim The Dark Knight as 2008’s best superhero film, yet Jon Favreau’s Iron Man merits nearly as much recognition for effectively dispatching the Marvel Cinematic Universe while taking care of its as a close wonderful blockbuster. Jon Favreau has said that instead of intentionally trying to set up a huge multi-movie universe, his goal with Iron Man was simply to make a movie worth watching, and he succeeded. After two sequels, the first Iron Man movie still stands as Tony Stark’s best MCU solo outing, here’s why:
1) It Gave Tony Stark His Most Complete Arc
Over the course of 10 MCU movies featuring Tony Stark, we see Tony turning from a billionaire military-industrialist playboy to a hero who would happily make the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of doing the right thing.
Toward the start of the film, Tony is pretty woeful, benefitting off of the then-continuous War on Terror and betting endlessly the returns in extravagant gambling clubs cool as a cucumber. Before the finish of the film, after his dad figure has attempted to get him executed by terrorists, Tony has risen up out of bondage and become a true blue hero who’s prepared to kick the bucket to forestall superfluous setbacks.
2) Robert Downey Jr.’s First Performance As Tony Stark Was Revelatory
It’s hard to believe now that the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark was considered to be a huge risk when Iron Man was first in development. Robert Downey Jr. was shunned by Hollywood circles, cast out as a pariah for his bad boy persona and public struggles with drugs and alcohol.
His subsequent appearances gave fans more of what they’d come to expect, which was great, but nothing compares to his refreshing, revelatory introduction.
3) The Non-Linear Opening Act Sets The Stage Spectacularly
The primary demonstration of Iron Man has a non-linear structure that sets the stage terrifically. It opens with Tony riding with a military guard through Afghanistan. The convoy is assaulted and Tony is exploded with a bomb bearing his own organization’s logo prior to being kidnapped by terrorists.
Then the movie takes the viewers to a few days earlier, with Tony indulging in his lifestyle of excess, gambling away his earnings in Vegas. This brilliantly sets up the story and hooks viewers in immediately.
4) Obadiah Stane Is Still One Of The MCU’s Best Villains
MCU is often criticized for having a “villain problem”, but the first villain in the MCU, Obadiah Stane, played by Jeff Bridges, was pretty practical. He was a father figure to Tony Stark after his own father’s untimely death.
Obadiah Stane just wanted to usurp Tony as the boss of Stark Industries and was willing to hire terrorists to kill him to do so.
5) The Mostly Improvised Dialogue Gave The Movie A Unique Energy
Interesting fact about Iron Man: Jon Favreau and his cast and crew went into production with an incomplete script. Despite the absence of dialogues, the structure of the story and the function of each scene was nailed down.
So, Favreau, who got his start in comedy, decided to start filming and let his cast improvise their dialogue — particularly Robert Downey Jr., who went on to ad-lib some of the best lines in the MCU.
6) It Has Some Surprisingly Dark Moments
The Iron Man comics have plenty of dark moments, like exploring Tony’s alcoholism in “Demon in a Bottle,” but the first movie was the only one that remained faithful to this.
This movie was made before Disney acquired Marvel Studios, so by contrast, the first movie’s depictions of terrorism and war are shockingly dark. After Disney acquired Marvel Studios, Iron Man’s big-screen adventures became lighter and more family-friendly in tone.
7) Terrence Howard Was A Better Rhodey Than Don Cheadle
Terrence Howard reportedly walked away from the sequels because Marvel gave a huge chunk of the pay he was promised to Robert Downey Jr. Despite the fact that Don Cheadle is without a doubt a fine entertainer, Terrence Howard made for a superior Rhodey in the primary Iron Man film.
Howard had been vital in getting Downey cast in the first place since they were friends. This genuine companionship made the on-screen fellowship of Tony and Rhodey feel more unmistakable in Iron Man than it did in the rest of the Infinity Saga.
8) The Science Of The Suit Was Relatively Believable
In the first film, the suit wasn’t altogether computer-produced. Tony hadn’t yet worked out the crimps, so the tech was defective. The suit felt genuine, and that gave genuine stakes to the action as it could breakdown at any second.
By the end of the Infinity Saga, Tony Stark had invented nanites, so his suit just grew around him. If his helmet got ripped off, another one appeared within seconds.
9) Iron Man’s Origin Story Was Modernized Brilliantly
Iron Man first appeared in Marvel Comics in the early ‘60s, so obviously, his story was quite outdated. In his big screen introduction in 2008, it managed the modernization without losing its faithfulness to the spirit of the comics. Tony Stark’s epitome of the military-modern complex gave Jon Favreau the ideal platform to remark on the War on Terror.
10) It Has The Perfect Ending
The ending of Iron Man is a perfect example of improvised dialogues in the movie. Tony Stark is told by S.H.I.E.L.D. to cover up his superhero antics by going in front of a press conference and saying Iron Man is his bodyguard. However, he goes out there and declares that he is Iron Man. Perfectly depicting the arrogant attitude of Tony Stark.
It was the perfect way to both end this movie and set up the larger franchise. Robert Downey Jr. apparently ad-libbed the line, changing a conventional ending into an unforgettable one.