Oh, boy do I love the first Iron man movie. Watched again today with my 8 year old as we do every 6 weeks or so! I felt it was time to write my own tribute to what I think in time will be viewed as THE stand out Marvel film of the naughties for a number of reasons. Firstly, its hard to remember now, but in 2008 Marvel needed a bit of a boost. The first Marvel film was the original X Men movie which was great, but the third one had been a bit of a disaster. The Hulk film had divided opinion, Daredevil had been pretty cringeing, ditto Elektra. The Spiderman films had been hugely successful commercially, but the third one in particular was a largely joy-less experience, more a greek tragedy than a comic book film. In 2008, Marvel took a huge gamble and released one of its B list characters in a stand alone film , with the previously troubled but enigmatic Robert Downey Junior as its star. What followed was a hugely successful movie taking 612 million dollars at the Box office and being the first of the link in to Avengers movies.
Why is the film great? first off its funny. Yep, RDJ is just brilliant as Tony Stark. He really is Tony Stark, with all the wisecracks, arrogant postering etc. It started a new trend for Marvel films to be fun with gags and references that only the adults would snigger at! Secondly, Iron Man was sooo 21st century. A character relying on up to the minute technology and gadgets, all microchips, guns, rockets, lasers and fizz bang wallop. Thirdly the film was socially relevant. Marvel cleverly updated the origin story to include a US v Afghanistan fanatic twist, which was so relevant at the time, coming after some high profile executions of western people live on middle eastern film. We had the somewhat touchy subject of a US arms firm selling weapons to the middle east and the repercussions for Stark. In parts it was touching, Stark the arrogant billionaire turned peace missionary with a conscience.
Fourthly, we had the first film scenes where a man really looked like he was flying! Yes I know Superman returns had a few scenes a couple of years earlier, but Iron Man is just superb in this film. The scene where he flies in tandem with the F-15 Jet fighters (I think that's what they were) was brilliant. Things had really moved on from the Donner Superman movies!
Next, Iron Man took out the baddies and put 'em down for good! Here for the first time we had a character who could target gun holding assassins and shoot them all at once, whilst the innocent captives walked away safe!
Then we saw how Iron Man took out tanks and the like with missiles and rockets, how cool was that! No need for any Hulk like temper tantrums here. All done in a second....he also tanked a direct hit from a tank gun and walked away...
penultimately, the film wasn't overly sad, it wasn't a soap opera, yes stane died, but we didn't spend half the fan weeping over the demise of a character, unlike the Spiderman movies and X2/X3!
Finally, it re-introduced some classic rock into comic book films!. The Iron Man sound track at the end of the movie, c/o Black Sabbath and Back in Black by AC/DC at the beginning of the movie. As a fan of 70s rock I loved that touch.
This movie was a stand out because it was the first really successful single character comic book movie that didn't involve one of the big 3, Spiderman, Superman or Batman. In fact it allowed a second tier character to become Marvel's flagship character and how... The Iron Man films are still the highest grossing individual character films not involving Superman, Batman and Spiderman (even Thor 2 probably won't change that). It proved that a film featuring someone who wasn't one of the big 3 could sell movie tickets. Iron man 3 has taken 1.2 billion dollars, obviously helped by the Avengers, but it outsold Batman Dark Knight Rises for goodness sakes, which was the final episode of a glorious trilogy featuring the most popular character in super hero Christendom. In fact I wonder when a film involving a single character will ever beat it, to be honest. MOS didn't get anywhere near it, which is amazing when you think about.
If Iron Man had flopped its arguable whether the Avengers would have really got off the ground or been so popular. Iron Man is a cornerstone of the Avengers' success and will be leaned on heavily in Avengers 2.
So I believe in many ways this film will stand as the most important in marvel's history. It was a game-changer and I for one love it to bits!!