Iron Man (2008)
October 27, 2016 12:16 PM - Subscribe

After being held captive in an Afghan cave, genius-playboy-philanthropist-billionaire engineer Tony Stark creates a unique weaponized suit of armor to fight escape.
posted by the man of twists and turns (21 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Probably my favorite of the MCU movies. I just remember being so happy that it didn't just have good action scenes, but that the characterization was so perfect and interesting and more than these movies ever get. A compelling villain, a great origin story, lots of banter, a lot of darkness in corners that fic writers have had a good time exploring.
posted by PussKillian at 2:56 PM on October 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

I skipped Iron Man when it was first released because the last few movies starring Marvel characters had either disappointed me or been cases of diminishing returns. Iron Man was a C-list hero at best at the time who didn't have the star power of Spider-Man or Wolverine, so why bother? So I passed.

I was 27 at the time and dealing with a terrible flare-up of Crohn's Disease. My small intestine had burst in 2007, leaving me with an open wound that brought my life to a halt. I worked at my office job, tried not to move much, came home, cleaned up, and slept. Repeat. Once a month I went for infusions of a medicine that was supposed to eventually heal the wound. I was in the 1% of cases that had side effects from the medication, effects so serious that I had to be sedated before the infusion began or else I would be overcome by severe pain, nausea, rapid temperature spikes, and a feeling that my skeleton was going to rip free and run away down the hall. I had to have observation during and after the infusion, and since I wasn't dating at the time and had nobody else I could count on for such a big imposition, my grandfather would come into the city from the coast and sit with me during the treatment, drive me home after, and crash on the couch to be sure I didn't suffer from any after effects unattended.

Pops and I had always been close, and even once I became an adult he was always there for me when I needed him and vice-versa. After the eight hours of infusion, we'd get Subway for dinner and watch a movie at my place. It became a tradition. There was a TV in the infusion room and one day late in the year we saw commercials for Iron Man on DVD. "I think I wanna see that," he said after I'd awakened and was finishing off the infusion session. "Is it any good?" I told him I didn't know, that the past few Marvel character films were so-so to terrible, but he remembered Iron Man from the 1960s and was curious what they'd done with him in a movie. Pops wasn't much for movies; he wouldn't go to theaters and didn't watch many on basic cable outside of crime films and old westerns, but this had his interest, so I said we should rent it. He picked up a copy of the Blu-ray from Blockbuster after he bought our dinner subs.

So we watched the movie and both of us were amazed by it. I didn't know anything about the character, but was completely drawn in my Downey's performance and the pacing of the story. The film made sure that you not only understood Stark's motivations, but his journey from playboy to man of conscience to superhero was well plotted and visually engaging. Pops loved it, and the tease at the end where Nick Fury shows up was an enticing mission statement for what was ahead. He was excited for the sequel and was even willing to go to the theater to see it. For a man who hadn't been to the theater since 1977, that was a hell of an endorsement!

Pops returned the movie on his way home the next day and I eventually bought a copy for myself on an Amazon holiday lightning deal sale. I kept Pops up to date on the latest news from what was becoming the Marvel Cinematic Universe with films for Thor and Captain America on the way. Captain America especially excited him since he remembered Steve Rogers from his own youth.

In the next few years my health recovered. Although the infusions inevitably failed, I had surgery to repair the digestive damage in late 2009. Pops, on the other hand, went the other direction. In 2010 he was diagnosed with lung cancer that quickly spread, and he spent more and more time in treatments of his own. I would go to visit him and my grandmother as his condition declined. He didn't feel up to going to the theater after all he endured with treatments, chemo, and the general weight of the illness. Toward the end of the year he decided to give up treatments and let the inevitable happen. He deteriorated quickly. I visited on weekends to help out however I could.

It wasn't long before he was unable to get around without tremendous effort and assistance, so he stopped leaving the house. Late in the year on one of my last visits before he passed, I brought over Iron Man 2 on DVD and we watched it together. It was the last time I saw him excited about something and the last time we did something together that didn't involve my health or his health or making preparations for how I would help my grandmother after he was gone. He fell asleep often by this time, sometimes in the middle of conversations or meals, but he was awake and watched that movie all the way through from the first opening logos all the way to the Agent Coulson finding Thor's hammer in the desert. He talked for a few minutes about how he wanted to see Thor, too, but was still really excited for Captain America. We both knew he never would see either, but it was a nice thought.

My grandfather passed away a few weeks later very early in 2011. I didn't see him much between those times; for a while he didn't want visitors and then when I got the call to come say my goodbyes, he wasn't entirely lucid. Our last real conversation was about Iron Man and movies and how they can be excellent escapism when you're invested in the character and the hero's journey. We had never connected over fiction since our tastes were so different, but there at our sickest times, we had Iron Man. Pops turned me on to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think that's just amazing.
posted by Servo5678 at 3:36 PM on October 27, 2016 [207 favorites]

Through-out the "modern" MCU movie arc, I've found Stark's character to be the most interesting. His struggle with what his company does through to PTSD after the New York battle in The Avengers gave him a depth the other characters were lacking. Other MCU films have been very enjoyable but this is the best origin story by far. Best soundtrack too.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:55 AM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

RDjr as Tony Stark was as much a revelation as Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.

This was an amazingly fun film that had no business being ass good as it is, and really set the stage for the rest of the MCU's success.
posted by bq at 8:31 AM on October 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

Also contains my preferred Rhodie.
posted by bq at 8:33 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I love, love, LOVE how Tony Stark says "Yeah, I'm Iron Man"! It was spot on character wise and a real breath of fresh air for superhero movies. Because yes, these are supposed to be fun, not totally dark and grim.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:12 AM on October 28, 2016 [7 favorites]

Such a direct shot at the Nolan Batman movies that were coming out around that time. And, not only that, it really completed his arc about corporate responsibility. You can't have responsibility without transparency. A Tony Stark who hides the fact that he's Iron Man is a Tony Stark who hasn't completed his journey yet.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:49 AM on October 28, 2016 [7 favorites]

Just so many places where things could have easily gone off the rails, like in so many other superhero movies, yet here they didn't. Everything just worked. I mean, Jon Favreau certainly has his share of bad movies (Cowboys and Aliens, anyone?) But here, Favreau, an actor/director with a background in improvisation, was the perfect choice to step back and give RDjr the breathing space he needed, while still delivering a product that captured the essence of its comic book source material.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 1:05 PM on October 28, 2016

Thank you for sharing your story, Servo.
posted by smoke at 3:34 PM on October 28, 2016 [7 favorites]

Iron Man fanvid - No Handlebars
posted by oh yeah! at 7:44 AM on October 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I was gonna snark about how Iron Man was so good that it gave me the mistaken impression that I liked superhero movies, a mistaken impression that it took falling asleep through like seven other MCU movies to dispel, but now I've just read Servo's comment and it makes me wanna go back and watch Captain America and Thor and all that, but actually paying attention this time. Also I might read some old Marvel comix first, so that I have my bearings going into the movies.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:26 PM on October 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

I just adore RDJ as Iron Man. He's my favorite of the movie Avengers, hands down. As an engineer, he's kinda who I want to be when I grow up, no lie.
posted by olinerd at 4:49 PM on October 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Like others I quite enjoyed this film. It bought leeway into subsequent films but now I can safely say I will never watch a Hollywood super hero film again. Iron Man was a great standard that no others have lived up to. With the exception of the first Captain America film, which was, ok I have found all the others excruciatingly boring and terribly written.
posted by juiceCake at 6:01 PM on October 29, 2016

Deadpool isn't excruciatingly boring and terribly written, but then again it isn't really a traditional Hollywood super hero film.
posted by Pendragon at 4:06 AM on October 30, 2016

It's honestly not worth the time or trouble to change the mind of someone who thinks Guardians of the Galaxy or the first Avengers was excruciatingly boring and terribly written. They're just operating in a completely field.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:17 AM on October 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

Jeff Bridges so rarely gets to play the bad guy, so when he had the chance to be Iron Monger in this one, he jumped into the role with such a fervor that the end result is absolutely delicious. Even if his performance hadn't birthed the memetastic "IN A CAVE! WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!" it would still be one of my favorite roles of his.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:48 AM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]

This really set the tone for the MCU and I think it's absolutely the best thing that Marvel ahd already sold the rights to Spiderman and Wolverine and the X-Men and the fantastic four.
All the big name characters that had everyman recognition were unavailable, so they fall back on Iron Man, who let's be honest at this point was not in the comics Premier League.
If you mentioned superheroes to a normal human person it would be Superman, Batman, Spiderman, maybe Wonderwoman, maybe the X-Men.

So because they couldn't so much fall back on "hey guys it's spiderman whooo" they had to actually make the character earn that recognition. They couldn't be as lazy as they otherwise might have been.
That said, this is their first movie in the MCU and they absolutely hit the standard superhero story beats in a way that they've finally managed to start moving away from.
It's an origin story, it's got him getting his powers, learning to use them then a big boss fight at the end.
It's a classic structure but if you're going to keep making superhero films (and I hope they are) they need to mix it up. Different style's different structures. Because that's what started to stink up the spidermans and supermans of the world. The only innovation was more villains to fight at the end, and that's not enough.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:45 AM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Bit of a digression that comes back to the topic, because a lot of my thoughts on this film are now tied up with my thoughts on Doctor Strange:

Also I might read some old Marvel comix first

The most important rule of reading comics is that you don't have to get all of the references, not even the writers get all of the references and continuity perfectly, just pick something you kind of like, figure out who the good guy is, and you'll pick up the important details from context. They're soap operas with punching, chill out. And if you don't like a particular comic, don't be like too many comics nerds and power through forever- just skip ahead or give up. It's your life, there's too much good shit, you don't need to know every detail.

For anyone around here who is thinking about reading more comics, I'm going to be honest: anything before 2000 is spotty, anything before around 1980 is probably a little embarrassing. The comics code was in full force, putting limits on everything that could possibly make a story compelling- no heroes losing, no sympathetic villains, no substance abuse, on and on. It was bad. You can watch the marvel editors get more daring and dodge more and more of it as time goes on- iron man's alcoholism, magneto getting sympathetic, literally every Punisher comic, Luke Cage doing Jessica Jones in the butt. It's an interesting progression.

If you want to get into marvel stuff, the absolute best way is to get a marvel unlimited subscription and read some things on a tablet. It's basically a netflix thing for old marvel comics, and it has a LOT but it's missing a handful of milestones like Jessica Jones' debut (she said fuck too much, I guess). You can read a few standalone series on that. I don't know Iron Man too well, but Nextwave is good, Ms Marvel is good, Immortal Iron Fist is good, Squirrel Girl is good, any recent moon knight run is good, and all of those are SUPER different. Browse here for recommended reading, or the recommended reading in the app, or just scroll at random until you see a cool cover.

If you like big stories, the two best are cosmic marvel and Jonathan Hickman's run. I've also heard over and over that reading every issue of Ultimate Spider Man in order is an excellent use of your time, but I haven't gotten around to that yet so I can't personally vouch for it. Same for Claremont's run on X-men stuff in the 1980s- great, haven't read enough of it yet myself. I guess professor Xavier macks on a bird alien?

Classic cosmic marvel has classic stories of Thanos (purple chair man from avengers and guardians of the galaxy) wrecking increasingly large amounts of shit. You'll get the idea just from Death of Captain Marvel, Thanos Quest, and Infinity Guantlet (9 issues total). Modern cosmic marvel is a totally different story years later, mostly unrelated, and an overarching narrative that is probably one of the greatest stories I've read in years. It picks up a little slow but Annihilation through Thanos Imperative is worth it. This is also where the Guardians of the Galaxy team from the movie came from. There are some distractingly stupid costumes on Gamora and a few other people that get improved as we approach the present.

Hickman wrote Secret Warriors (the comic Agents of SHIELD is based on), Fantastic Four for a while, changed its name to Future Foundation when spiderman joined, then moved to a few different Avengers books, did an event called Infinity, then did Secret Wars. It's also really long, but in the app you can just search by creator, sort by date, and read down the timeline so it's not too bad. The main storyline of Avengers/Infinity/Secret Wars prominently features Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange, and will almost certainly be adapted into Avengers movies 5, 6, and 7 after they finish doing the movies based on Infinity Gauntlet, so if you want to be the guy going "Pffft it was better in the book" the whole time, this is where you want to go. Plus, during Secret Wars they just told everyone on all of the side comics to go crazy, so you'll get tie-in comics like captain america riding a dinosaur through hulk country or a bunch of Thors in a police procedural or a new female captain britain named Faiza Hussain helping Yinsin, the doctor from the beginning of Iron Man, save his city after alternate universe Tony Stark died to protect him.

Comics are rad, it is so fucking exciting that the movies are finally really allowing themselves to be properly off the wall and serious and silly with everything from Luke Cage's BLM references to Ghost Rider's blood lust to Groot all happening at the same time and bouncing off of each other and it's so strange yet perfect that it all started with Tony Stark, in a cave, with a box of scraps.
posted by fomhar at 7:44 PM on November 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

I love the Iron Man trilogy of movies so so so much. I dropped a huge hint to my husband that if anyone ever wanted to get me a present, that set would be a good one, because I can watch them over and over again. They're inspiring and sexy as hell and redemptive, and yeah, most of the other Marvel movies really don't hold my attention on rewatch the way these do. I decided a while back that I wanted to rewatch all the movies with Iron Man in them in order, and so I watched the trilogy plus I think it was The Avengers, and only the ones actually titled Iron Man stood the test of time for me. But to be clear, I'll watch any Avengers movie to see more Iron Man.

This came out in May 2008, and then The Dark Knight came out in July of that year, and to me those will always be something of a pairing. Both trilogies showed me that superhero movies could really reflect the present-day problems and politics of the world at large—and that creators were taking notice of the things we were all seeing then and incorporating them into their works. They felt political in a way that I didn't expect, while giving me hope for a way forward. And to be clear, I could watch (and have watched) Robert Downey Jr. in just about anything. His performance here, and reading about how he took inspiration from Elon Musk, was part of what strengthened my initial interest in Tesla.

These are also what made superhero comics interesting to me whatsoever. I have a friend who's a bit of a comics purist who has issues with the fact that so many comics gatherings he attends devolve, in his view, to discussions of Marvel movies. But to me, superhero comics were never welcoming to begin with—they were full of minutiae and long-running plot lines, they were impossible to keep up with if you didn't have much money, they were unnecessarily and badly objectifying, and they were, overall, like the equivalent of reading an anthology of Mark Trail or something to me. And DC superhero movies and TV shows in general have been pretty hit or miss. The Marvel movies and TV shows have the attention to detail that changes all that.

Like Star Trek, the Marvel movies have greatly benefited from the fact that we are finally beyond the uncanny valley when it comes to movie special effects—and the production values and writing are top-notch even on the lesser properties. The entire thing is woven together so seamlessly, each new movie is like a continued unfolding of this beautiful universe. I even liked Guardians of the Galaxy, and I thought the trailers all looked corny as hell. The TV shows on Netflix have all been spot-on so far (though I really need to go back and watch more of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), with the same amazing ethos and production values.

Anyway, much love to the Iron Man franchise and Robert Downey Jr. for his work here.
posted by limeonaire at 7:48 PM on November 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

Agents of SHIELD turns out to be pretty good, but there's a rough road to get there in the first season. Unfortunately, there's a lot of important character development and plot stuff in the first season, so I can't recommend skipping it entirely. So, just go into it with the knowledge that the first eight episodes or so will be pretty hit-or-miss. And do NOT include any variations on the phrase "we got played" or "they were playing us" in your drinking game, you WILL die.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:11 AM on November 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

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