Iron Man (2008 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jon Favreau|
|Based on||Iron Man
by Stan Lee
|Music by||Ramin Djawadi|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures1|
|Running time||126 minutes|
|Box office||$585.1 million|
Iron Man is a 2008 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Iron Man, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures.1 It is the first installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Directed by Jon Favreau and written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, the film stars Robert Downey, Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub and Gwyneth Paltrow. The film sees Tony Stark, an industrialist and master engineer, build a powered exoskeleton and becomes the technologically advanced superhero Iron Man.
The film had been in development since 1990 at Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and New Line Cinema, before Marvel Studios reacquired the rights in 2006. Marvel put the project in production as its first self-financed film, with Paramount Pictures as its distributor. Favreau signed on as director, aiming for a naturalistic feel, and he chose to shoot the film primarily in California, rejecting the East Coast setting of the comics to differentiate the film from numerous superhero films set in New York City-esque environments. During filming, the actors were free to create their own dialogue because pre-production was focused on the story and action. Rubber and metal versions of the armors, created by Stan Winston's company, were mixed with computer-generated imagery to create the title character. Hasbro and Sega sold merchandise, and product placement deals were made with Audi, Burger King, LG and 7-Eleven.
Iron Man premiered in Sydney on April 14, 2008, and was released in theaters on May 2, 2008. The film was a box office success, grossing over $585.1 million, while Downey's performance as Tony Stark was praised. The American Film Institute selected the film as one of the ten best of the year. A sequel, Iron Man 2, was released on May 7, 2010, and another sequel, Iron Man 3, was released on May 3, 2013.
Genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist, Tony Stark, who has inherited the defense contractor Stark Industries from his father, 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. An electromagnet grafted into Stark's chest by fellow captive Yinsen keeps 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 agree 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 then begin to secretly build a suit of armor powered by the reactor, to escape. Although they keep the suit hidden almost to completion, the Ten Rings attack the workshop when they discover their intentions. 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 an enraged Stark burns the Ten Rings weapons and flies away, only to crash in the desert, destroying the suit. After being later rescued by Rhodes, Stark returns home and announces that his company will no longer manufacture weapons. Obadiah Stane, his father's old partner and the company's manager, advises Stark that this may ruin Stark Industries and his father's legacy. In his home workshop, Stark builds an improved version of his suit, as well as a more powerful arc reactor for his chest. Personal assistant Pepper Potts places the original reactor inside a small glass showcase. Stane requests details but Stark keeps his work to himself.
At 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 new 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 phones Rhodes and reveals his secret identity in an attempt to end the attack. Meanwhile, the Ten Rings gather the pieces of Stark's prototype suit and meet with Stane, who subdues Raza with a sonic device and has the rest of the group eliminated. He 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., a counter-terrorism agency, to inform him of Stane's activities.
Stane's scientists cannot duplicate Stark's arc reactor so Stane ambushes Stark at home and takes his arc reactor. Stark manages to crawl to his lab, break the showcase, and plug in his original reactor. Potts 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 overmatched without his new reactor to run his suit at full capacity. Stark lures Stane atop the Stark Industries building and instructs Potts to overload the large arc reactor there. This unleashes a massive electrical surge that knocks Stane unconscious, causing him 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".
- An industrialist, genius inventor, and consummate playboy, he is CEO of Stark Industries and a chief weapons manufacturer for the U.S. military. Favreau had planned to cast a newcomer in the role, but ultimately chose Downey (a fan of the comic) because he felt the actor's past made him an appropriate choice for the part. "The best and worst moments of Robert's life have been in the public eye," the director explained. "He had to find an inner balance to overcome obstacles that went far beyond his career. That's Tony Stark. Robert brings a depth that goes beyond a comic book character who is having trouble in high school, or can't get the girl." Favreau felt Downey could make Stark a "likable asshole," but also depict an authentic emotional journey once he won over the audience. Downey had an office next to Favreau during pre-production, which allowed him greater involvement in the screenwriting process. He brought a deeper sense of humor to the film not present in previous drafts of the script. He explained, "What I usually hate about these [superhero] movies [is] when suddenly the guy that you were digging turns into Dudley Do-Right, and then you're supposed to buy into all his 'Let's go do some good!' That Eliot Ness-in-a-cape-type thing. What was really important to me was to not have him change so much that he's unrecognizable. When someone used to be a schmuck and they're not anymore, hopefully they still have a sense of humor." To prepare, Downey spent five days a week weight training and practiced martial arts to get into shape, which he said benefited him because "it's hard not to have a personality meltdown [...] after about several hours in that suit. I'm calling up every therapeutic moment I can think of to just get through the day."
- A friend of Stark's, and the liaison between Stark Industries and the United States Air Force in the department of acquisitions, specifically weapons development. 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?" Howard and his father are Iron Man fans, partly because Rhodes was one of the few black superheroes when he was a child. He was a Downey fan since he saw him in Weird Science, and they competed physically on set: "Robert and his competitive ass almost tore my shoulder trying to keep up with him. Because I'm 40 or 50 pounds heavier than him, so I'm in there lifting and I pushed up about 225 pounds [102 kg] and knocked it out 10 times. Robert wanted to go about 235 [106 kg], and he did it. So I'm going to push it up to about 245 [111 kg]. I took him out running and gave him some nice cramps. He couldn't walk after a couple of days."
- Stark's business second-in-command. Bridges read the comics as a boy and liked Favreau's modern, realistic approach. He shaved his head and grew a gray beard for the role, which was something he had wanted to do for some time. Bridges googled the Book of Obadiah, and he was surprised to learn retribution is a major theme in that particular book of the Bible, something which Stane represents. 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".
- Stark's fellow captive. In the comics, Yinsen is a Chinese 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 film.
- Stark's personal assistant 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 a 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.
Additionally, Faran Tahir appears as Raza, the leader of the Ten Rings, while Paul Bettany voices J.A.R.V.I.S., Stark's personal Artificial Intelligence computer program. Leslie Bibb portrays Christine Everhart, a reporter for Vanity Fair. Clark Gregg appears as Phil Coulson, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., with Frontline's Will Lyman providing the voiceover during the opening award ceremony. Samuel L. Jackson appears as S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury in a post-credits scene. Cameos in the film include: Stan Lee as himself, being mistaken by Stark as Hugh Hefner at a party; director Jon Favreau as Stark's bodyguard and chauffeur, Happy Hogan; Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello, who provides additional guitar music for the film, as a terrorist guard; and Jim Cramer, star of CNBC's Mad Money, as himself. Rapper Ghostface Killah had a cameo 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. In June 2006, a May 2, 2008 release date was set. In March 2008, the released was pushed up to April 30, 2008 in international markets, with the United States still seeing a May 2, 2008 release.
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, "[i]f 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, while trying to make the character of genius billionaire Tony Stark "appear more realistic", took Robert Downey Jr.'s suggestion for a sit down with Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla.
Production was based in the former Hughes Company soundstages in Playa Vista, Los Angeles, California. Favreau rejected the East Coast setting of the comic books because many superhero films had already been set there. 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.
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 wrapped on May 2. Exterior shots of Stark's home were digitally composited on 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 ordered the scene removed from all preview prints in order to maintain the surprise and keep fans guessing. 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.
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: particularly, the back is less armored than the front, as Stark would use his resources to make 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. 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 the comic character "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. 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 design, 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."
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 film's soundtrack.
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 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.
In 2010, in anticipation of the release of Iron Man 2, Marvel Comics released a comic book adaptation of the film under the title Iron Man: I Am Iron Man! The two-issue miniseries featured bonus scenes not in the original film.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on September 30, 2008, in North America and October 27, 2008 in Europe. DVD sales were very successful, selling over 4 million copies the first week and generating a gross over US$93 million. There were a total of 9 million copies sold and an accumulated total sales of over $160 million (not including Blu-ray).
For the home releases of the film, the image on the newspaper Stark reads before he announces he is Iron Man had to be altered because of amateur photographer Ronnie Adams filing a lawsuit against Paramount and Marvel for using his on-location spy photo in the scene.
The film is also scheduled to be collected in a 10-disc box set titled Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One – Avengers Assembled which will include all of the "Phase One" films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However in September 2012, the release of the box set, which was scheduled on the same day as the Blu-ray release of The Avengers, was delayed until April 2, 2013, due to a pending law suit over the suitcase used to package the collection.
Iron Man earned $318.4 million in North America and $266.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide gross of $585.1 million.
In its opening weekend, Iron Man grossed $98,618,668 in 4,105 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking No. 1 at the box office, giving it the eleventh biggest-opening weekend at the time, 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 thirteenth biggest-opening day at time. Iron Man had the second-best premiere for a non-sequel, behind Spider-Man. It had the fourth biggest-opening for a superhero film. Iron Man was also the No. 1 film in the U.S. and Canada in its second weekend, grossing $51.1 million, giving it the twelfth-best second weekend and the fifth-best for a non-sequel. On June 18, 2008, Iron Man became that year's first film to pass the $300 million mark for the domestic box office.
In May 2008, Iron Man was identified as the "best-reviewed film of the year so far" by Jen Yamato of review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with the site reporting at that time the film had received a rating of 95% based on 107 reviews and this rating has held its place as of January 2010. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 93% approval rating with an average rating of 7.6/10 based on 242 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Director Jon Favreau and star Robert Downey make this smart, high impact superhero movie one that even non-comics fans can enjoy." Metacritic gave the film normalized 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 [sic] 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". Looking at the sociocultural aspects of the film, Cristobal Giraldez Catalan at Bright Lights Film Journal argues that, "Iron Man is far more than playboy fantasy; it is American foreign policy realized without context....Iron Man, with narrative and directorial precision, once again provides the high-fidelity misogyny and anti-Muslim rhetoric Hollywood is known for."
Iron Man was selected by the American Film Institute as one of the ten best films of the year. The film was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing at the 81st Academy Awards, but lost to another Paramount film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and another Superhero film The Dark Knight, respectively. It was nominated for nine Saturn Awards, winning Best Science Fiction Film, Best Director for Favreau and Best Actor for Downey. In 2008, Iron Man was selected by Empire magazine as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. Tony Stark was also selected as one of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time. On their list of the 100 Greatest Fictional Characters, Fandomania.com ranked Iron Man at number 37.
Iron Man 2
The sequel, Iron Man 2, was released in the United States on May 7, 2010 with Jon Favreau and Robert Downey, Jr. returning as director and lead, respectively, with a screenplay by Justin Theroux. Don Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard in the role of Colonel Rhodes, who is also seen as War Machine. Also starring is Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts; Mickey Rourke as villain Ivan Vanko; Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer; Scarlett Johansson as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natasha Romanoff; and Samuel L. Jackson as S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury.
Iron Man 3
Disney, Marvel Studios, and Paramount Pictures announced a May 3, 2013 release date for Iron Man 3. Favreau said in December 2010 that he would not direct Iron Man 3, opting to direct Magic Kingdom, but reprised his role as Happy Hogan. Shane Black directed Iron Man 3, from a screenplay by Drew Pearce. Robert Downey, Jr. returned as Tony Stark, as did Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Don Cheadle as Colonel Rhodes, who uses the moniker Iron Patriot. Guy Pearce starred as Aldrich Killian and Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery.
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