While this was not the first Marvel film released it was the first in what we now call the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Released in 2008 and directed by Jon Favreau, Iron Man help launch not only a very successful franchise (I know understatement of the century), but it also help revitalize an actors career. In case you haven’t seen this movie, spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is many things (in his own words from another movie: genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist) heads to Afghanistan along with his best friend Lieutenant Colonial James Rhodes aka Rhodey (Terrence Howard) to showcase the latest weapon by Stark Industries, which Tony inherited from his father, called the Jericho missile. Shortly after the demonstration Tony’s car is ambushed, troops killed and he is captured as well as wounded by a terrorist group known as The Ten Rings led by Raza (Faran Tahir). Much to Tony’s horror he saw the group using his own weapons involved in the capture. He would have died if not for fellow captive Yinsen (Shaun Toub) implanting an electromagnet inside Tony’s chest preventing the shards from going into his heart. Raza wants both of them to build a Jericho missile promising to let them go, however Tony and Yinsen know he will not keep his word and plot to escape. They build an electric generator calling it arch reactor to power a suit, but are discovered. Yinsen sacrifices himself for Tony to complete the suit and Tony avenges his death by blowing up the compound of weapons. Tony finds his way to Rhodey and they get back home where Tony makes a public announcement that Stark industries will no longer sell weapons despite his father’s partner Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) protests that it will ruin the company. Tony makes a new sleek suit with a more powerful reactor in his chest, along with the help of his assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), but insists on keeping the work for himself. Tony soon discovers Stane has been selling weapons behind his back for years and wants to replace him as the CEO of Stark industries. Tony, along with Rhodey, Pepper, his personal AI system J.A.R.V.I.S (Paul Bettany) and an agent from S.H.I.E.L.D Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) are not gonna let him get away with that plan. While I probably should not say anymore in case of spoilers the last scene with Tony stating “I am Iron Man” is one of my favorite moments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as the special after credit scene with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).
Just like that one of the biggest franchises kicked off and I could not think of a better movie to do it. While Robert Downy Jr. had many successful films after he become sober, he hadn’t really achieved blockbuster status until Iron Man. I had heard of others up for the part of Tony Stark, but watching the movie it is hard to picture anyone other than Downey Jr. playing that character. I enjoyed Terrence Howard as Rhodey and was somewhat disappointed he had a falling out with Marvel (however I have no problem with Don Cheadle for the rest of the franchise). I love Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts the woman who basically ran Tony’s life, the chemistry between Paltrow and Downey Jr.is awesome. Bridges is not the most memorable villain in the Marvel universe, but I thought he did a great job as the psychotic Stane. I also became a fan of Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, although if you had told me just how big this character would become I may not have believed you. The writing and action were fantastic, and I know there were special effects but it was almost hard to tell where the effects were. I am so thankful the movie did well otherwise we would not have so many of the hottest stars and movies out there today. If you are interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe you have to start with Iron Man.