Iron Man is a 2008 superhero film, based on the Marvel Comics superhero of the same name. It is the first installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first installment of Phase One.
It was directed by Jon Favreau and stars Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark, Terrence Howard as Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane. The film spawned two sequels: Iron Man 2 in 2010 and Iron Man 3 in 2013.
A billionaire industrialist and genius inventor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), is conducting weapons tests overseas, but terrorists kidnap him to force him to build a devastating weapon. Instead, he builds an armored suit and upends his captors. Returning to America, Stark refines the suit and uses it to combat crime and terrorism.
Billionaire, genius and Stark Industries CEO Howard Stark has his spotlight taken by his son Tony, who amazes the world with his brilliant creations. Years later, Howard dies and his company is taken over by Tony, who is about to present the new "Jericho" missile in Afghanistan. But there, Stark is attacked and kidnapped by terrorists known as the Ten Rings who order him and doctor Yinsen to build the Jericho, but instead, they spend days in the cave creating an arc reactor to keep shrapnel from Stark's heart and armor to escape. During the escape, Yinsen is killed and Stark's suit charges and he uses it to defeat the Ten Rings. He, however, crash-lands in the middle of the desert during flight and without his armor, he runs in the desert broken down but is found by his best friend James Rhodes as they return. There, Stark announces no more weapons, and it disappoints Obadiah Stane while Stark at home builds a streamlined and newer suit, every day making it more capable of flight. After discovering the Ten Rings are using his weapons and Stane had betrayed him, Stark dons his armor to fight the Ten Rings, who later find parts of Stark's prototype suit and contact Stane so he could build them an army of iron soldiers to rule Asia but he betrays them and steals the armor for his own purposes, reverse-engineering it into his own suit.
Stark decides to find out who sent the Ten Rings the weapons, so he sends his assistant Pepper Potts to hack into Stane's computer believing he could have been dealing with them, and she finds out Stane had sent the Ten Rings to kill Stark but they reneged. She arrives with S.H.I.E.L.D. to arrest Stane.
Stane's scientists cannot duplicate the ARC Reactor tech so Stane steals Tony's and dons his suit to attack SHIELD and goes after Pepper, but however Tony using his original ARC Reactor saves her and the two warriors battle, and once they get atop the Stark facility, Tony orders Potts to overload the giant arc reactor to electrocute Stane, defeating him. The next day Stark is named "Iron Man" and is advised to keep the identity a secret but reveals it anyways.
- Other Armors:
- Tony Stark's Cars:
- United States
- Santa Monica
- Las Vegas
- Caesars Palace
- Robert Downey Jr. as Anthony "Tony" Stark / Iron Man:
A billionaire industrialist, genius inventor, and consummate playboy, he is CEO of Stark Industries, a chief weapons manufacturer for the U.S. military. The son of a Manhattan Project engineer, Howard Stark, he is an engineering child prodigy, having built a circuit board at four years old and an engine at six, as well as graduating from MIT summa cum laude at the age of 17. He takes charge of Stark Industries at the age of 21 from Stane, who had been in control of the company since Howard's death.
- Terrence Howard as Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes:
A friend of Stark's, and the liaison between Stark Industries and the U.S. Air Force in the department of acquisitions. Favreau cast Howard because he felt he could play War Machine in a sequel. Howard prepared for the role by visiting Nellis Air Force Base on March 16, 2007, where he ate with the pilots and observed HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopters and F-22 Raptors. While Rhodes is roguish in the comics after he met Stark, his earlier disciplinarian character forms a dynamic with Stark, and he is unsure whether or not Stark's actions are acceptable. "Rhodey is completely disgusted with the way Tony has lived his life, but at a certain point he realizes that perhaps there is a different way," Howard said. "Whose life is the right way; is it the strict military life, or the life of an independent?"
- Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane / Iron Monger: Stark's business second-in-command and the main antagonist. Bridges read the comics as a boy and liked Favreau's modern, realistic approach. He shaved his hair and grew a gray beard for the role, which was something he had wanted to do for some time. Many of Stane's scenes were cut out to focus more on Stark, but the writers felt Bridges's performance allowed the application of "less is more". The character was called Iron Monger in the comics when he used his armor, but the codename is only referenced in the film when Stane describes himself and Stark as "ironmongers".
- Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia "Pepper" Potts: Stark's personal secretary and budding love interest. Paltrow asked Marvel to send her any comics that they would consider relevant to her understanding of the character, who she considered to be very smart, levelheaded, and grounded. She said she liked "the fact that there's sexuality that's not blatant." Favreau wanted Potts' and Stark's relationship to be reminiscent of a 1940s comedy, something which Paltrow considered to be fun in a sexy, yet innocent way.
- Shaun Toub as Dr. Ho Yinsen: Stark's fellow captive. In the comics, Yinsen is Chinese and a physicist, but in the film, he comes from an Afghan village called Gulmira, which is one of the aspects of the modernization of the Iron Man mythos for the movie.
- Faran Tahir as Raza: the leader of the Ten Rings. Tahir is a fan of the comics, and wanted to bring humanity to the henchman. "I tried to find ways to show that although he may be the bad guy, there might be a moment or just a hint of vulnerability at times, where he hasn't made the right calculations or there's a certain amount of doubt. Jon was very receptive to that kind of layering."
- Paul Bettany voices J.A.R.V.I.S.: Stark's personal Artificial Intelligence computer program, which assists him in the construction and programming of the Iron Man suit. The name of the character is a reference to the comic book character Edwin Jarvis, Stark's butler. Bettany did the part as a favor to Favreau (having worked with him on Wimbledon) and claimed he did not know what film he was recording the lines for during his two-hour recording session
- Samuel L. Jackson appears as S.H.I.E.L.D. head, Nick Fury, following the credits. Jackson's face was used, with his permission, as the model for that of the version of Nick Fury in Marvel's Ultimate Marvel imprint.
Other cameos include Iron Man co-creator Stan Lee (whom Stark mistakes for Hugh Hefner at a party), and director Jon Favreau as Stark's bodyguard and chauffeur, Happy Hogan. Audioslave and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who provides additional guitar music for the film, has a brief cameo as a guard. Jim Cramer, star of CNBC's Mad Money appeared as himself, commenting on the investment opportunities ("Sell, Sell, Sell") of Stark Industries. Rapper Ghostface Killah cameoed in a scene where Stark briefly stays in Dubai while returning to Afghanistan, but it was cut from the theatrical release for pacing reasons.
In April 1990, Universal Studios bought the rights to develop Iron Man for the big screen. Stuart Gordon was to direct Universal's low-budget film. By February 1996, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights from Universal. In January 1997, actor Nicolas Cage expressed interest in being cast for the lead role, and in September 1998, actor Tom Cruise had expressed interest in producing as well as starring in the film debut of Iron Man.
Jeff Vintar and Iron Man co-creator Stan Lee co-wrote a story which Vintar adapted into a screenplay. It created a new science-fiction origin for the character, included several inventive suspense sequences, and showcased a villain who was a giant head in a floating chair, named MODOK. Although Lee and Vintar's screenplay was credited by Tom Rothman, President of Production at Fox, with being the screenplay that finally made him understand the character, Jeffrey Caine (GoldenEye) was hired to rewrite Vintar and Lee's script.
Director Quentin Tarantino was approached in October 1999 to write and direct Iron Man. With no deal made, Fox eventually sold the rights to New Line Cinema the following December, reasoning that although the Vintar/Lee script was strong, the studio had too many Marvel superheroes in development, and "we can't make them all."
By July 2000, the film was being written for New Line by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, and Tim McCanlies. McCanlies's script used the idea of a Nick Fury cameo to set up his own film. New Line entered talks with Joss Whedon, a fan of the character Iron Man, in June 2001 for the possibility of the director taking the helm. In December 2002, McCanlies had turned in a completed script.
In December 2004, the studio attached director Nick Cassavetes to the project for a target 2006 release. After two years of unsuccessful development, and the deal with Cassavetes falling through, New Line Cinema returned the film rights to Marvel. Screenplay drafts had been written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and David Hayter, but they were not retained.
New Line's script pitted Iron Man against his father Howard Stark, who becomes War Machine In November 2005, Marvel Studios worked to start development from scratch, and announced it as their first independent feature, as Iron Man was their only major character not depicted in live action. According to associate producer Jeremy Latcham, "we went after about 30 writers and they all passed", saying they were uninterested in the project due to both the relative obscurity of Iron Man and being a production solely by Marvel. Even the rewrites when the film had a script lead to many refusals.
Len Wiseman had been in negotiations to direct, before Jon Favreau was hired as in April 2006, with Arthur Marcum and Matt Holloway writing the script. Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby worked separately, with Favreau compiling both team's scripts, and the script received a polish by John August. Comic book staff Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort, Axel Alonso, and Ralph Macchio were also called upon by Favreau to give advice on the script.
Favreau had wanted to work with Marvel producer Avi Arad on another film after the Daredevil adaptation. Favreau celebrated getting the job by going on a diet, and lost seventy pounds. The director found the opportunity to create a politically ambitious "ultimate spy movie" in Iron Man, citing inspiration from Tom Clancy, James Bond, and RoboCop. Favreau also described his approach as similar to an independent film, "If Robert Altman had directed Superman", and also cited Batman Begins as an inspiration. He wanted to make Iron Man a story of an adult man literally reinventing himself after discovering the world is far more complex than he originally believed. Favreau changed the Vietnam War origin of the character to Afghanistan, as he did not want to do a period piece.
Choosing a villain was difficult, because Favreau felt Iron Man's archnemesis, the Mandarin, would not feel realistic, especially after Mark Millar gave his opinion on the script.
He felt only in a sequel, with an altered tone, would the fantasy of the Mandarin's rings be appropriate.
The decision to push him into the background is comparable to Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, or Palpatine in Star Wars. Favreau also wanted Iron Man to face a giant enemy. The switch from Mandarin to Obadiah Stane was done after Bridges was cast. Stane had originally been intended to become a villain in the sequel. The Crimson Dynamo was also a villain in early drafts in the script. Favreau felt it was important to include intentional inside references for fans of the comics, such as giving the two fighter jets that attack Iron Man the call signs of "Whiplash 1" and "Whiplash 2," a reference to the comic book villain Whiplash, and including Captain America's shield in Stark's workshop.
The post-closing-credits sequence that introduces Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury was written by comics writer Brian Michael Bendis. Favreau, director of the Iron Man films, describes in his article how Elon Musk (who is the founder of SpaceX and Tesla) was the inspiration for Favreau's film depiction of genius billionaire Tony Stark.
Production was based in the former Hughes Company soundstages in Playa Vista, Los Angeles, California. Howard Hughes was one of the inspirations for the comic book, and the filmmakers acknowledged the coincidence that they would film Iron Man creating the flying Mark III where the Hughes H-4 Hercules was built. Favreau rejected the East Coast setting of the comic books because many superhero films had already been set there. Filming began on March 12, 2007, with the first few weeks spent on Stark's captivity in Afghanistan.
The cave where Stark is imprisoned was a 150- to 200-yard (150–200 m) long set, which had movable forks in the caverns to allow greater freedom for the film's crew. Production designer J. Michael Riva saw footage of a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan, and saw the cold breath as he spoke: realizing remote caves are actually very cold, Riva placed an air conditioning system in the set. He also sought Downey's advice about makeshift objects in prison, such as a sock being used to make tea. Afterwards, Stark's capture was filmed at Lone Pine, and other exterior scenes in Afghanistan were filmed at Olancha Sand Dunes, where the crew endured two days of 40 to 60-mile per hour (60 to 100 km/h) winds. Filming at Edwards Air Force Base began in mid-April, and ended on May 2.
Exterior shots of Stark's home were digitally added to footage of Point Dume in Malibu, while the interior was built at Playa Vista, where Favreau and Riva aimed to make Stark's home look less futuristic and more "grease monkey". Filming concluded on June 25, 2007, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Favreau, a newcomer to action films, remarked, "I'm shocked that I [was] on schedule. I thought that there were going to be many curveballs". He hired "people who are good at creating action", so "the human story [felt] like it belongs to the comic book genre".
There was much improvisation in dialogue scenes, because the script was not completed when filming began (the filmmakers had focused on the story making sense and planning the action). Favreau acknowledged that improvisation would make the film feel more natural. Some scenes were shot with two cameras to capture lines said on the spot. Multiple takes were done, as Downey wanted to try something new each time.
It was Downey's idea to have Stark hold a news conference on the floor, and he created the speech Stark makes when demonstrating the Jericho weapon. Brian Michael Bendis wrote three pages of dialogue for the Nick Fury cameo scene, with the filmmakers choosing the best lines for filming. The cameo was filmed with a skeleton crew in order to keep it a secret, but rumors appeared on the Internet only days later. Marvel Studios's Kevin Feige subsequently had the scene removed from all preview prints in order to maintain the surprise and keep fans guessing.
Favreau wanted the film to be believable by showing the construction of the suit in its three stages. Stan Winston, a fan of the comic book, and his company built metal and rubber versions of the armors. They had previously worked on Favreau's Zathura. Favreau's main concern with the effects was whether the transition between the computer-generated and practical costumes would be too obvious. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) was hired to create the bulk of the visual effects, with additional work being completed by The Orphanage and The Embassy; Favreau trusted ILM after seeing Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Transformers.
The Mark I design was intended to look like it was built from spare parts. The back is less armored than the front, because Stark would use his resources for a forward attack. It also foreshadows the design of Stane's armor. A single 90-pound (41 kg) version was built, causing concern when a stuntman fell over inside it, though both the stuntman and the suit were unscathed. The armor was also designed to only have its top half worn at times. The Embassy created a digital version of the Mark I. Stan Winston Studios built a 10-foot (3.0 m), 800-pound (360 kg) animatronic version of "Iron Monger" (Obadiah Stane), a name which Obadiah Stane calls Tony Stark and himself earlier in the film as a reference, but is never actually used for the suit itself in the film. The animatronic required five operators for the arm, and was built on a gimbal to simulate walking. A scale model was used for the shots of it being built.
The Mark II resembles an airplane prototype, with visible flaps. Iron Man comic book artist Adi Granov designed the Mark III with illustrator Phil Saunders. Granov's designs were the primary inspiration for the film's, and he came on board the film after he recognized his work on Jon Favreau's MySpace page. Saunders streamlined Granov's concept art, making it stealthier and less cartoonish in its proportions. Sometimes, Downey would only wear the helmet, sleeves and chest of the costume over a motion capture suit.
For shots of the Mark III flying, it was animated to look realistic by taking off slowly, and landing quickly. To generate shots of Iron Man and the F-22 Raptors battling, cameras were flown in the air to provide reference for physics, wind and frost on the lenses. For further study of the physics of flying, skydivers were filmed in a vertical wind tunnel. Phil Saunders created concept art for the War Machine armor and said that it was originally intended to be used in the film but was "cut from the script about halfway through pre-production." Saunders said that the War Machine armor "was going to be called the Mark IV armor and would have had weaponized swap-out parts that would be worn over the original Mark III armor," and that it "would have been worn by Tony Stark in the final battle sequence."
- Main Article: Iron Man (Soundtrack)
Composer Ramin Djawadi is an Iron Man fan, and still has issues of the comic from the late 1970s. Through his older brother, Amir, he is also into heavy metal music since the early 1990s. While he normally composes after watching an assembly cut, Djawadi began work after seeing the teaser trailer. Favreau clearly envisioned a focus on "heavy" guitar in the score, and Djawadi composed the music on that instrument before arranging it for orchestra.
The composer said Downey's performance inspired the several Iron Man themes (for his different moods), as well as Stark's playboy leitmotif. Djawadi's favorite of the Iron Man themes is the "kickass" because of its "rhythmic pattern that is a hook on its own. Very much like a machine." The other themes are "not so much character based, but rather plot based that carry you through the movie". Guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, who has a brief cameo in the film as a guard, contributed additional guitar work to the movie's soundtrack.
The premiere was held at the Greater Union theater at George Street, Sydney, on April 14, 2008.
Marvel and Paramount modeled their marketing campaign for Iron Man on that of Transformers. Sega released a video game based on the film, which included other iterations of the character. A 30-second spot for the film aired during a Super Bowl XLII-break. 6,400 7-Eleven-stores in the United States helped promote the film, and LG Group also made a deal with Paramount. Hasbro created figures of armors from the film, as well as Titanium Man (who appears in the video game) and the Hulkbuster Armor Mark II armor from the World War Hulk comics.
Worldwide, Burger King and Audi promoted the film. Jon Favreau was set to direct a commercial for the fast-food chain, as Michael Bay did for Transformers. In the film, Tony Stark drives an Audi R8, and also has an "American cheeseburger" from Burger King after his rescue from Afghanistan, as part of the studio's product placement deal with the respective companies. Three other vehicles, the Audi S6 sedan, Audi S5 sports coupe and the Audi Q7 SUV, also appear in the film. Audi created a tie-in website, as General Motors did for Transformers. Oracle Corporation also promoted the film on its site. Estimates for the cost of marketing Iron Man ranged from US$50 to $75 million.
Iron Man received highly positive reviews from film critics. On May 1, 2008, the film was identified as the "best-reviewed film of the year so far" by Jen Yamato of review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with the site reporting that 93% of critics had given the film positive reviews, based upon 218 reviews and this rating has held its place as of November 2008. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 79, based on 38 reviews.
Among the major trade journals, Todd McCarthy in Variety called the film an "expansively entertaining special effects extravaganza" with "fresh energy and stylistic polish", while Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter praised the film while nonetheless finding "disappointment in a climatic battle between different Iron Man prototypes how did Tony's nemesis learn how to use the suit?" In one of the first major-daily newspaper reviews, Frank Lovece of Newsday lauded the film's "emotional truth pitch-perfect casting and plausibly rendered super-science" that made it "faithful to the source material while updating it – and recognizing what's made that material so enduring isn't just the high-tech cool of a man in a metal suit, but the human condition that got him there". A.O. Scott of the New York Times called the film "an unusually good superhero picture. Or at least — since it certainly has its problems — a superhero movie that's good in unusual ways."
Among the specialty press, Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons commended the "impressive sets and mechanics that combine smoothly with relatively seamless CG", and said, "Robert Downey Jr., along with director Jon Favreau help this rise above formula. The result is something that, whilst hardly original or groundbreaking, is nevertheless refreshing in its earnestness to avoid dark dramatic stylings in favor of an easy-going, crowd-pleasing action movie with a sprinkle of anti-war and redemption themes". IGN's Todd Gilchrist recognized Downey as "the best thing" in a film that "functions on autopilot, providing requisite story developments and character details to fill in this default 'origin story' while the actors successfully breathe life into their otherwise conventional roles".
Among major metropolitan weeklies, David Edelstein of New York magazine called the film "a shapely piece of mythmaking Favreau doesn't go in for stylized comic-book frames, at least in the first half. He gets real with it — you'd think you were watching a military thriller", while conversely, David Denby of The New Yorker put forth a negative review, claiming "a slightly depressed, going-through-the-motions feel to the entire show Gwyneth Paltrow, widening her eyes and palpitating, can't do much with an antique role as Stark's girl Friday, who loves him but can't say so; Terrence Howard, playing a military man who chases around after Stark, looks dispirited and taken for granted".
Roger Ebert and Richard Corliss named Iron Man as among their favorite films of 2008.
In its opening weekend, Iron Man grossed $98,618,668 in 4,105 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking number one at the box office, giving it the 11th-biggest opening weekend, ninth widest release in terms of theaters, and the third highest-grossing opening weekend of 2008 behind Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Dark Knight.
It grossed $35.2 million on its first day, giving it the 13th-biggest opening day. Iron Man had the second-best premiere for a non-sequel, behind Spider-Man.
It had the fourth-biggest opening for a superhero movie. giving it the 12th-best second weekend and the fifth-best for a non-sequel. On June 18, 2008 Iron Man became the first movie of 2008 to pass the $300 million mark for the domestic box office.
As of July 19, Iron Man has grossed $585,133,287 worldwide — $318,412,101 in the United States and Canada and $266,721,186 in other territories.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on September 30, 2008, in North America. In Europe, the scheduled release date was October 27, 2008. The image on the newspaper Stark reads before he announces he is Iron Man was altered because amateur photographer Ronnie Adams filed a lawsuit against Paramount and Marvel using his on-location spy photo.
- Main Article: Iron Man 2
After the successful release of Iron Man, Jon Favreau signed on to reprise his role as director for the sequel. The main cast returned for the film, with exception of Terrence Howard, who was replaced by Don Cheadle to take his role as Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes.
- Main Article: Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 was directed by Shane Black and was released on April 2013.
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- They originally planned for Rhodes to crash Tony's R8 and kill Iron Monger. However the fight scene proved to be too short.
- The film features many pun lines as references to the characters in the comics.
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