Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One Rewatch: Iron Man

Back on the old site, I wrote a few articles following a rewatch of the Marvel Cinamatic Universe. Here are those articles again.

Title: Iron Man

Director: Jon Favreau

Written by: Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway.

Chatacters created by: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck

US Release Date: May 2, 2008

Budget: $140,000,000

Worldwide Box office: $585,200,000

Summary: Tony Stark, is in war-torn Afghanistan with his friend and military liaison, Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes to demonstrate the new “Jericho”missile. The convoy is ambushed and Stark is critically wounded by one of his own rocket propelled grenades.


He is captured and imprisoned in a cave by the terrorist group the Ten Rings, and an electromagnet is grafted into his chest by fellow captive Yinsen to keep the shrapnel shell shards that wounded him from reaching his heart and killing him. Ten Rings leader Raza offers Stark freedom in exchange for building a Jericho missile for the group, but Tony and Yinsen know Raza will not keep his word. Stark and Yinsen secretly build a powerful electric generator called an arc reactor to power Stark’s electromagnet and a suit of powered armor to aid in their escape. Yinsen sacrifices himself to divert them while the suit powers up. The armored Stark battles his way out of the cave to find the dying Yinsen, then in anger burns the Ten Rings weapons and flies away, crashing in the desert and destroying the suit.


After being rescued by Rhodes, Stark returns home and announces that his company will no longer manufacture weapons. Obadiah Stane advises Stark that this may ruin Stark Industries and his father’s legacy. In his home workshop, Stark builds and tests the Mark 2 armor, as well as a more powerful arc reactor for his chest. The armor freezes up at a certain altitude, but is otherwise successful. Personal assistant Pepper Potts places the original reactor inside a small glass showcase.


iron man 2008 pepper and tonyAt a charity event held by Stark Industries, reporter Christine Everhart informs Stark that his company’s weapons, including the Jericho, were recently delivered to the Ten Rings and are being used to attack Yinsen’s home village, Gulmira. Stark also learns Stane is trying to replace him as head of the company. Enraged by these revelations, Stark dons his improved Mark 3 Armor and flies to Afghanistan, where he saves Yinsen’s village. While flying home, Stark is shot at by two F-22 Raptor fighter jets. He reveals his secret identity to Rhodes over the phone in an attempt to end the attack.

Meanwhile, the Ten Rings gather the pieces of Stark’s Mark 1 armor and meet with Stane, who subdues Raza and has the rest of the group killed. Stane has a new suit reverse engineered from the wreckage. Seeking to find any other weapons delivered to the Ten Rings, Stark sends Pepper to hack into the company computer system from Stane’s office. She discovers Stane has been supplying the terrorists and hired the Ten Rings to kill Stark, but the group reneged. Potts meets with Agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. to inform him of Stane’s activities.


Stane’s scientists cannot duplicate Stark’s arc reactor, so Stane ambushes Stark at his home and takes his. Stark manages to get to his original reactor to replace the taken one. Potts, Coulson, and several S.H.I.E.L.D. agents attempt to arrest Stane, but he dons his suit and attacks them. Stark fights Stane, but is outmatched without his new reactor to run his suit at full capacity. The fight carries Stark and Stane to the top of the Stark Industries building, and Stark instructs Potts to overload the large arc reactor powering the building. This unleashes a massive electrical surge that causes Stane and his armor to fall into the exploding reactor, killing him. The next day, at a press conference, Stark admits to being the superhero the press has dubbed “Iron Man”.


MCU Continuity Nods: Since this is the first film, there aren’t a lot of connective threads just yet, although they begin to create the larger world by introducing Nick Fury, Phil Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. Tony also mentions that he never got to say goodbye to his father, which is a regret he still shares later in Civil War.


Easter Eggs: Rhodey’s ringtone for when Tony Stark calls him is a midi version of the theme music to the 1966 Iron Man cartoon. During the highway battle with Iron Monger, a building can be seen in the background with a Roxxon logo. In the Marvel Universe, Roxxon is a notorious conglomerate known for illegal activities, agents of which were responsible of the death of Stark’s parents. When presented at the movie’s end with the cover story by SHIELD Agent Coulson that Iron Man is employed by Tony Stark to act as his bodyguard, Stark dismisses it as “pretty flimsy.” In the Iron Man comics, this was precisely the cover that Tony Stark used to protect his identity, until 2002, when Stark went public with his identity as Iron Man. When Phil Coulson gives Tony Stark his pre written statment for the final press conference, he notes the official statement will be that he was on the island of Attilan. In the comics Attilan is one of a few homes to the race known as the Inhumans.

Stan Lee Cameo: A guest at a party who Tony mistakes for Hugh Heffner


Infinity Stone: none

Post/mid Credits Scene: S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury visits Stark at home, telling him that Iron Man is not “the only superhero in the world”, and explaining that he wants to discuss the “Avenger Initiative”.

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My Take: The success of this movie is down to the casting of Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark. You have to remember that before he was Iron Man, RDJ was considered a liability due to his past, but his experience meant that you could by him as a rakish, irresponsible playboy. He’s intelligent, quick-witted, and most importantly, funny. He’s also someone who you can buy as an addict, which is not just something that appears in the comics, but also a major trait that affects his future appearances (I will get to that in a later review). This film also starts a trend of Marvel casting A-Level for their films. All if the four leads are have been nominated for an Oscar prior to casting. Also, the script wasn’t finished prior to the start of filming, allowing the actors the freedom to ad lib, which is why the dialogue feels natural.

Without the success of Iron Man, there would be have been no MCU. I am going to let Wikipedia explain: This was particularly due to Marvel using their characters as collateral when they received a $525 million, seven year deal called a non-recourse debt facility, allowing them to make original films based on their properties. Marvel wanted to have complete creative control over their characters, build a film library and greater profit potential than the deals they’ve inked with other studios owning the film rights to their characters. Marvel also changed its name to Marvel Entertainment, Inc. to establish a Hollywood presence. If the film didn’t succeed, Marvel would’ve lost the intellectual property rights to their library.

Next: The Incredible Hulk