Tonight, I watched Iron Man for the first time in a long time. Stephanie and I decided that we wanted to attempt to watch all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies leading up to Avengers: Infinity War, and that starts with Iron Man.
This movie came out in 2008, so there are definitely some things that would likely have been different in today’s world. There is a brief mention of MySpace which I’m sure will leave some kids shaking their heads in the future. All in all though, it does a great job of telling a story and not grounding itself in a time past. Even the CGI is great in this. I actually though the CGI in this is far better than Justice League and that just came out late last year.
Marvel took some major gambles on this one, mostly in the form of Robert Downey Jr. At the time, he wasn’t just a name in Hollywood, he was one of the names you can’t put on movies without putting up a fight. He’d had some trouble with substance abuse and was just trying to get his feet back under him. Lucky for him, he had Jon Favreau going to bat for him for this movie. So much of what this movie became depended on the casting. RDJ was a perfect fit for Tony Stark, because he IS Tony Stark. There is a surprising amount of improv in that was done in this movie all thanks to him. If I remember correctly, the writers would basically bring him the script for the day and he would toss out quite a bit in favor of his own flair.
The one major thing that didn’t work out is Terrence Howard as Rhodey. It’s one major issue with the whole franchise. I liked Terrence Howard just fine, but I’m so much more of a Don Cheadle fan. They made a great move in decided to move on. I think it was a money thing with Howard and he just wouldn’t play along. To be fair, this was at a time when Marvel was under Ike Perlmutter and he was a notorious penny pincher. In recent years, Disney has moved the Marvel Studios division out from under him and I believe it’s made them free to make better movies and better decisions since they have a seemingly endless bag of money.
While watching this, I was really amazed at the setup for the whole universe that they were doing. There was no guarantee that there would be an Iron Man 2, much less the slew of other movies that came after that. They took the chance anyway. They through in reference after reference of a bigger universe, culimating in that first post-credits scene involving Nick Fury. Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, no less. They went all in on believing that this was going to be a huge hit and usher in a new era of cinema. Now, for better or worse, everyone has a universe. Some more successful than others. Marvel did the right thing by setting out from the start to make a universe and tie everything together. They took their time, and they established every character before putting them all together. I’m looking at you DC. Get your crap together.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Iron Man again, and it made me realize that Marvel has been making good decisions since day one when it comes to these movies. The Incredible Hulk being the only possible exception. It wasn’t a bad movie per say, it just wasn’t great either. Iron Man totally holds up, and I’m excited to get to watch all of these leading up to Infinity War. I have a feeling it’s going to be so awesome.