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Marvel Retrospective: Iron Man (2008)
Posted: Posted January 12th by Jet Presto

The one that changed the Hollywood blockbuster landscape, Iron Man is still highly regarded among fans of the superhero genre. It is often ranked up there with The Dark Knight trilogy, though it arguably has a lot more in common with Richard Donnerís Superman or even Tim Burtonís Batman.

Superhero films were definitely making a comeback. Sam Raimiís Spider-man trilogy renewed interest, while Bryan Singerís X-Men films and Christopher Nolanís Batman Begins showed us that one could use the genre to tell compelling stories with real-world issues in the fold. Jon Favreau and Marvel Studios showed up on the scene to give us something closer to the comic book experience while retaining a sense of fun adventure that hadnít quite become staples of the genre in the post-Spider-man boom.

The strength of the first Marvel film is its casting. Favreau excels as the goofy, overzealous bodyguard Happy Hogan. Jeff Bridges brings gravitas to a character motivated by simple greed, requiring such a demeanor. Paul Bettany is the perfect voice for the dryly sarcastic JARVIS. Gwyneth Paltrow is surprisingly agile enough to keep up with the star. But obviously, as is the case with every Iron Man film, Robert Downey Jr. is the core.

Quite literally the whole franchise is built around RDJ. His take on billionaire weapons manufacture and egomaniac Tony Stark is a bit different from the comics, but in a way that makes for a more engaging movie experience. He does an excellent job being both smarmy and charming. His on screen persona meshes into the off screen so seamlessly that itís not hard to wonder how much of it is actually acting.

Thereís an interesting thing that one canít help but notice upon closer inspection: there really isnít that much of a development to the character. In part, superheroes canít change too much, lest fans start to become less fanatical over them. At the same time, character development is important for compelling stories, and without it in any capacity, fans might move away from them out of general boredom.

It is kind of difficult to see any particular character development in the film. Tony Stark is essentially the same smug asshole at the end of the film as it he as the beginning. After being hurt by his own weapons, he suddenly sees the light and decides to stop manufacturing lethal weapons, or so he announces at a press conference. Yet it actually appears that itís less that he shouldnít be making lethal weapons as much as it is only he should have them. This a concept that would get explored in later Marvel movies, but within two+ hour run time of Iron Man, Tony really doesnít change at all. It would be one thing if it attempted to explore the idea of how strange his way of becoming ďaccountableĒ is (in that he makes himself literally unaccountable to anyone other than himself), but Favreau doesnít seem particularly interested in going anywhere too deep.

Thus, given where we are now in the world of superhero films, itís hard to find much about this one that really stands out as truly great. The action is small compared to other Marvel films. The character doesnít grow or get explored much. The humor is fine, but itís not especially funny. Itís largely just an origin story and a vehicle to test the waters for the grand experiment that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become.

Itís certainly something that the film is still enjoyable today. And certainly, its role in kickstarting the modern superhero craze cannot be understated. In some ways, a more family entertainment take on superheroes was the best possible way for Marvel Studios to handle it, given the popularity of Nolanís The Dark Knight, which brooded on screens to financial and critical success in the same year. It was, in some ways, the yin to Nolanís yang. And, as we now know, the yin is easier to digest.

Still, below the surface, there just isnít much beyond a typical origin story. Itís entertaining, but there probably isnít too much of a need to revisit it, besides to see just how far the MCU has come. I suppose thatís one of the downsides to episodic, continuity-driven cinema. Just as people donít often revisit old comic back issues, there is increasingly little to take away from revisiting older MCU films.

Reductive Rating: Itís fine.

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Skeptical about people ranking it on par with the dark knight trilogy. I believe it is the most iconic out of all the phase 1 MCU stuff. I'd even say it is better than the first avengers. But it has been years since I've seen both movies.

I would like a write up like this for the blade trilogy. It rarely gets mentioned in the grand scheme of comic book movie discussion.

Edited January 12th by S.omg.
S.omg.
 

My goal is to eventually kind of go through all the superhero films of the last few decades and do this. I'm focusing exclusively on Marvel Studios right now mostly because End Game is on the horizon, so it seems timely, and also because I am working on a different writing project on portrayals of mental health with it's male characters, so I'm watching these films a lot right now anyway.

I think Iron Man is a fine movie, and it is still enjoyable today. One thing I did really like is that the stakes are kept more personal, something that Marvel and really all superhero flicks would struggle with in the years to come. The villain is ok, but there could have been more there, especially given that Tony Stark grew up with Obadiah Stane as a sort of parental figure. One would imagine more of a sense of betrayal than we saw.

But the timing needs to be kept in the discussion as well: Iron Man wasn't exactly Marvel's top dog or one of the most recognizable characters at the time, and the more "fun" superhero movies had more overt camp than Iron Man did (think Raimi's Spider-man movies, which always had a level of corn and cheese that in some ways made them more palatable, because there was also an earnestness to them where they also wanted you to take it kind of seriously). Watching it today, Iron Man feels very safe. But at the time, it wasn't really a sure thing. Which is funny to think about in a world where Aquaman can break box office records. (Aquaman was fine. Just, I don't really know what about it merits the kind of return it has seen.)

But yeah, I do plan to get to Blade at some point.

Posted January 12th by Jet Presto

Aquaman was fine. Just, I don't really know what about it merits the kind of return it has seen.)

it is a fun film. Good action,ok story and great set pieces. I found it to be far more enjoyable than black panther. I believe it is the better film of the two. BP has the better villain but I enjoyed the bits of black manta.

What's interesting to me is that Marvel is working to give the mantle to a new era of heroes. In reality out side of spider man I don't see any of those heroes breaking records in their respective follow up sequels. I feel that black panther was able to do it because it was able to garner the attention of the general audience and pander to a specific group that has not been represented in comic book movies since blade. Also it was able to push the narrative that whitey was bad so lets do to them what they did to us! Which I see becoming a reoccurring idea for youngsters these days. (Limited to my experiences in real life and the internet)

Keep in mind I enjoyed BP in civil war. In his own solo movie not so much. The villain and cast around him were much more intriguing and were the High light of the film. I really just don't care for the main lead.

Outside of BP I don't think any of the new heroes will become a house hold name with out being included in the team up films. They have time to fix this of course if provide them with a compelling sequel. But as of right now the only phase 2 hero I care for is ant man. And that mostly because of mike. (Paul rudd) I am hoping I am wrong. Because DC was able to make aquaman a house hold name ( to be fair though he has always been known to the masses. I don't believe him or WW are that obscure of heroes. But outside of him being able to talk to fish I never knew je could be such a badass)


Posted January 12th by S.o.h.
S.o.h.
 

In response to the original thread body, I think the "development" isn't so much about the character Tony Stark, but about complicating (or, developing) the narcissistic/billionaire trope. It took effort to establish that archetype in the film and then try to subvert it towards something a little deeper/different. Maybe. I haven't watched it since I was in, like, middle school. But I do think there's a distinction to be made between the development of a character vs. the development of our understanding of that character.

Posted January 12th by Cetasaurus
Cetasaurus
Formerly KM8

(Aquaman was fine. Just, I don't really know what about it merits the kind of return it has seen.)

This is gonna be a little personal, but the experience of watching this film was weirdly... important to me. When I was a kid, I could spend hours in my imagination. It was so vivid and immersive. I've been yearning for that feeling to come back, and doing stuff like re-reading the fantasy novels that I loved back then (only to find, with heartbreak, that they are actually pretty bad Ė my child's imagination was doing most of the heavy lifting). Watching Aquaman was kinda reminiscent of my old daydreams, though. A classic hero's quest. Hidden treasure. All kinds of fantastical creatures. A slew of dramatic settings, from the light and whimsical to the dark and mysterious. I don't know. The movie is pretty stupid at times, but I'll probably watch it again at some point. Maybe while I'm stoned.

EDIT: I also think the success of Wonder Woman paved the way for Aquaman's success a bit... in the sense that people are allowed to take DCU movies seriously now. Like, we're finally getting over teasing Batman v. Superman, lmao.

Edited January 12th by Cetasaurus
Cetasaurus
Formerly KM8

Also it was able to push the narrative that whitey was bad so lets do to them what they did to us! Which I see becoming a reoccurring idea for youngsters these days.


I think you are confusing what it means for a film to *push* a narrative. This ideology that you are speaking of was the opinion of the *bad guy,* because he was the bad guy. Most of the characters are pretty fleshed out, so there isn't necessarily an overly simplistic or one dimensional character in the film, but generally the characters we are supposed to be rooting for - the narrative that the film *does* push - are the ones that want cooperation, not war. The heroes are the ones that *don't* push a narrative that "whitey was bad so let's do to them what they did to us." And while we do get moments to feel sympathy for Killmonger, it is meant to help us understand *why* Killmonger felt the way he did, not make us feel like he is right and his cause is just and his methods are acceptable. (Remember that we are also clearly meant to like Everett Ross, and that our heroes work to save him and, indeed, Ross played a key role in saving Wakanda.)

The film including a character that says, "whitey is bad, let's do to them what they did to us" is not the same as the film pushing that philosophy. Black Panther, by every measure, pushes the *opposite* narrative.


Outside of BP I don't think any of the new heroes will become a house hold name with out being included in the team up films


Maybe. At the same time, their team-up movies have been pretty fun and done pretty well, too. I'm curious what the future of the Marvel cinematic universe is, but in the comics, it's not very often that the titular character is always alone. Spider-man runs into Deadpool. Daredevil will run into Captain America. Iron Man will work with Captain Marvel. What's kind of neat is the idea that they now have a more full toy box to play with. They've largely been able to stay ahead of the curve by creating these team-ups.

The Marvel brand is strong enough that there will almost certainly not be a true dud any time soon. But, especially as Warner Brothers eventually starts actually putting out a bunch of solo films themselves, team-ups are probably the way to go. Part of the fun with comics is the way that all these characters interact. I don't see why Marvel would go back to focusing exclusively on individual characters all the time. Not saying they can't or shouldn't or won't. They should. But it's pretty clear that fans of the films are becoming more like fans of the comics, and access to multiple characters will be key to staying on top.


Because DC was able to make aquaman a house hold name


Aquaman was already a household name. And he's one of the longest lasting superheroes. (Namor predates him, but only slightly.)

But yeah, most of the time people think him silly. I don't know that I got the impression Aquaman was a "badass" in the film. (He mostly strikes me as an idiot undeserving of the throne. There was never a moment in that film that really felt like he earned the throne. He was just entitled to it.) But they've been trying to highlight what a great character he is in the comics for what feels like decades. I haven't read too many bad Aquaman comics in modern times.

When I was a kid, I could spend hours in my imagination. It was so vivid and immersive.


Certainly! I thought the visuals were the clear strength of the film. (Everything with the Trench was among the most beautiful and haunting shots I've seen in the genre.)

I'm not saying Aquaman is bad. I thought it was fine. As a film, I didn't think it was better than, say, Guardians of the Galaxy or - for DC - Wonder Woman. As an overall film, it's incredibly shallow and exposition-heavy, and there are a bunch of plot points that just get completely dropped or don't pay off at all. The end result is a villain that kinda...doesn't deserve the sympathy from the audience that he gets. (It's like, everyone including the filmmakers forgot that he orchestrated the sub attack that sparked the effort to war. The deceptive reasons for war made him the George W. Bush of the oceans, really.) (Black Panther handles its themes a lot better and more consistently than Aquaman does. But I also don't really want to compare the two. There are a lot of surface level similarities, but they're both doing different things and have their own strengths and weaknesses.)

And yeah, it's kind of hard to get around that Aquaman never really does anything to merit the throne. Two stronger, smarter women guide him to this deus ex machina macguffin device because he is entitled to the throne. And that feels a little...weak...

But yeah, it's by no means a *bad* film. It's not the hot mess that, say, Batman v. Superman was. I'm just not sure I understand what exactly about Aquaman merits the level of success it had. He's not an unknown character, but he's also not iconic in the way that, say, Wonder Woman is. And it's visually engaging and fun, but is it really that different from what we've seen in Guardians of the Galaxy or Doctor Strange?

I do think DC will stand out by making films that are not overly concerned about pushing the larger universe. I know they made a few references in Aquaman, but I loved that they didn't really care that much to set up the larger world. The larger world almost doesn't exist at all in the film. The DCEU is a hot mess anyway. Best focus on the characters. That's going to be what works for them.




Posted January 13th by Jet Presto

Maybe push wasnt the right word. But from my experience Killmongers ideology resonated with a number of individuals both online and offline.

Even the other characters were still hesitant about the idea of opening up Wakanda to the world.

And it's visually engaging and fun, but is it really that different from what we've seen in Guardians of the Galaxy or Doctor Strange?

I found Aquaman to be a far more likable character than Strange or even Star Lord. The former started off as a prick, the latter became extremely annoying for me as a character. Outside of the team dynamic with the rest of the guardians he has become my least favorite MCU character. I enjoyed watching the chill surfer bro dude reluctantly rise up to the occasion to do what was right.

I also want to point out, that we had a summer blockbuster release during Christmas time which has been called one of the funnest Marvel movies to date. Out side of Bumblebee, Aquaman had no competition. (I would imagine that most individuals are burn out with the transformer movies since theyve all been pretty shitty starting with the first sequel) I am not surprised it did so well.

I dont know about you but I found it to be the super hero palate cleanser after watching infinity war. Infinity War brought pain and misery. Aquaman was just a fun, feel good, movie.

Shit I might just watch it again.

Posted January 13th by S.O.H.
S.O.H.
 

Even the other characters were still hesitant about the idea of opening up Wakanda to the world.


Right. But that isn't because they think "whitey is bad," and it certainly isn't a way to "do to them what they did to us" (on a fundamental level, African isolationism is the *opposite* of what white westerners did to them).


But from my experience Killmongers ideology resonated with a number of individuals both online and offline.


Sure. They didn't exactly make up a motive out of thin air. The best characters, heroes or villains, take from real world stuff. It's not exactly difficult to understand why someone like Killmonger would feel the way he did. And it's not really hard to understand why some people in the real world would feel that way themselves. I mean, people walked away from the Joker saying he had a point, too. (And god help me, if I see one more person argue that Thanos had a point, I'm gonna lose it. He didn't. He was an idiot. His plan makes *no* sense.)

But taking this motivation from the Real helps make a more poignant thematic film as a whole, since one of the things Killmonger does as a character is make Black Panther recognize the dangers of increased division. He recognizes the feelings of Killmonger, and moves to address those concerns in better, healthier, more uniting ways, but he also moves to unite factions. Opening Wakanda to the world serves as a means to help reduce the chances that people will feel the way Killmonger did. That's the arc of T'Challa, as influenced by the villain.

I suppose that's the gist of what I'll say for now. I realize I should save some of this for the eventual Black Panther post in a couple weeks.


I found Aquaman to be a far more likable character than Strange or even Star Lord.


Sure. Star-Lord is super fucking irritating in Infinity War, to be honest. And Dr. Strange's entire arc is about going from super smug asshole to superhero (his arc is actually more identifiable than Tony Stark's - they're theoretically the same arc and same character, to be honest, although Dr. Strange is actually allowed to have an arc where as Tony has to just be Robert Downey Jr. forever).

But yeah, from a starting point, we are definitely supposed to like Aquaman more than we are someone like Strange. (I think we were supposed to be endeared to Star Lord very early, and that will largely depend on what mileage you get from Chris Pratt.)

I also meant more visually, not necessarily in terms of character. I really enjoyed the spectacle of Aquaman. Thought that was hands down the strength of the film. (Also features some of the most comic-accurate costumes, which was ridiculous and great all at once.) But I'm not sure that I think it offered something that we hadn't seen before. Especially in the areas where it veered into Star Wars prequels visually.


Out side of Bumblebee, Aquaman had no competition.


There was no Star Wars this December, but there was still some competition. Bumblebee, Mary Poppins Returns, Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse all came out around the same time, and all have been getting positive reviews overall. Aquaman faced stiffer competition than Wonder Woman did, which competed with...Pirate of the Caribbean 5? Alien: Covenant? And Baywatch? I guess?


I dont know about you but I found it to be the super hero palate cleanser after watching infinity war. Infinity War brought pain and misery.


I mean, I have a LOT of problems with Infinity War, and I'm actually still pretty mad about some choices the filmmakers made - thematic messaging that I found to be irresponsible and problematic. But yeah, that's a good point. Infinity War was just pretty much nonstop misery, pain, and torture. (Was also why I really appreciated Ant-Man and the Wasp coming right after.)

It certainly was nice to have another DC film that wasn't more interested in shallow visual metaphors that aren't thought out very well, and that weren't just a visual slog. It's nice that they actually shot things on location. Rewatching Justice League and it's like, damn, was this whole thing just shot in front of a green screen?

Posted January 13th by Jet Presto

But that isn't because they think "whitey is bad,"

It has been a while since Ive seen the movie, from what I remember the idea that "whitey is bad" was one of the top reasons why they wanted to remain isolated. Even Surri goes out of her way to label the CIA dude a "colonizer". If im remembering correctly there was another person outside of Killmonger who said the outside world was advancing to the point of it becoming a threat to Wakanda. Im probably wrong but I have no interest in re watching that movie to see if I am. Ill just wait for your BP post in a couple of weeks.

There was no Star Wars this December, but there was still some competition. Bumblebee, Mary Poppins Returns, Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse all came out around the same time, and all have been getting positive reviews overall

I personally didnt see Marry Poppins or Spider man to be real competition. (this is the first Ive heard of Poppins coming out). It is my understanding that spider man did well, but I was not expecting it to out gross or come anywhere close to Aquaman.

Edited January 13th by s.o.h.
s.o.h.
 

I love the movie but I will be happy when they stop making Avengers movies. They are becoming exhausting.This movie started that.

Posted January 14th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

you don't have to watch them.

Posted January 14th by S.o h.
S.o h.
 

It has been a while since Ive seen the movie, from what I remember the idea that "whitey is bad" was one of the top reasons why they wanted to remain isolated.


Those concerns were global in nature, not at all specified to a particular race or region of the world. Wakandans concerned about any and all global superpower taking an interest in their resources. In the prologue, they even mention the issues Wakanda had with neighboring African nations being problematic and part of the reason they wished to remain isolated. As for Shuri's "colonizer" joke, I mean, it's a joke. But also, the history of Africa is riddled with European colonization. I don't think it's really so horrible that that fact and reality be acknowledged in some capacity. The movie *does* take place mostly in Africa, and is made up almost entirely of characters who are African. Stands to reason they wouldn't exactly take a white American's perspective towards world history, especially the history of Africa.


It is my understanding that spider man did well, but I was not expecting it to out gross or come anywhere close to Aquaman.


Aquaman has hit $1 billion. I don't think anyone anticipated that at all. And the overall quality of the film doesn't really...explain it? Word of mouth probably helped, with people talking about how it's a DC movie that doesn't totally suck.

I'm certainly glad it's been a success. I like Amber Heard, and Patrick Wilson hams it up brilliantly. I'm just not sure I really understand. It feels a little "Avatar"-like to me, in that it's going to be a movie no one is talking about in, like, half a year.

Posted January 14th by Jet Presto

It's true, but after you've seen half of them you might as well watch them all. All I want is a conclusion.

Posted January 14th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

I think I'd have more to contribute about Iron Man once I start my movie rewatch, probably in a couple of weeks or so (after I've watched Punisher's second season, which drops this Friday, and complete my Agents of SHIELD rewatch). But I will say that, while I wouldn't compare it to The Dark Knight--only Black Panther and Winter Soldier come close to that one for me out of the MCU movies--I was pretty impressed with it on first watch, and I watched it several times while I was in college. Wasn't interested in it at all as Iron Man wasn't really a character on my radar, but I went to see it based off of word of mouth and I loved it. I've had it in my personal top 5 because of how much I enjoyed it the first few times, but I'm definitely interested to see how well it holds up as it's been a while. As I recall, the cast was excellent (including Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, as well), and I thought it was a funny film as well. It was really key for the MCU that they started with such a charismatic lead in a quality film--if The Incredible Hulk or the first Thor had been our first MCU film, I'm not sure the universe would have the popularity it has today. Certainly the fact that later attempts to create connected film universes all more or less failed speaks to Marvel catching lightning in a bottle.

As I said, I could be misremembering this, but I'm not sure I'd agree that Stark doesn't go through character development in the film. I recall feeling that Stark had become self-focused over the course of the movie. Not hugely so, and he clearly still has a massive ego, but at least part of his motivation becomes helping people (i.e. others-focused) as opposed to simply making money and increasing his own personal fame. With that idea, I like that he clings to his arrogance, as it just wouldn't be realistic for him to change so utterly overnight, and I think at least his own solo films continue to challenge him and develop him (less so most of the teamup films, which are fun but often have to casually undo developments that characters undergo in their solo ventures--doesn't matter if Stark destroyed all of his suits, because the Avengers film still need him to be Iron Man).

Maybe. At the same time, their team-up movies have been pretty fun and done pretty well, too. I'm curious what the future of the Marvel cinematic universe is, but in the comics, it's not very often that the titular character is always alone. Spider-man runs into Deadpool. Daredevil will run into Captain America. Iron Man will work with Captain Marvel. What's kind of neat is the idea that they now have a more full toy box to play with. They've largely been able to stay ahead of the curve by creating these team-ups.

The Marvel brand is strong enough that there will almost certainly not be a true dud any time soon. But, especially as Warner Brothers eventually starts actually putting out a bunch of solo films themselves, team-ups are probably the way to go. Part of the fun with comics is the way that all these characters interact. I don't see why Marvel would go back to focusing exclusively on individual characters all the time. Not saying they can't or shouldn't or won't. They should. But it's pretty clear that fans of the films are becoming more like fans of the comics, and access to multiple characters will be key to staying on top.


Yeah, and the team-up films solve the obvious problem of why only one superhero is involved in any given crisis--even way back when, we had people wondering things like "why doesn't Captain America ask Iron Man for help dealing with the helicarriers?" and that was with just a couple of earth-bound Avengers at all, AND with Black Widow already playing a significant role. With multiple team-ups in the books, it's going to be increasingly difficult to justify why heroes don't go recruiting superpowered allies a la Civil War--the stakes will either have to be intensely personal like with Ant-Man and the Wasp, or the characters will have to be isolated like with Black Panther.

I had no idea Aquaman had made that much money--I wasn't particularly interested in seeing it myself. Perhaps it's a combination of the success of Wonder Woman, the fact that Aquaman is relatively well-known (speaking as someone who didn't grow up around comics, I knew more about him than most Marvel heroes outside of Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four...and maaaaaybe Captain America or the Hulk), and, well, a shirtless Jason Momoa? I could also imagine people being pretty desperate to find another DC movie that they could actually fall in love with, as those seem to be few and far between post-Dark Knight trilogy outside of Wonder Woman. But I haven't seen it, so I have no opinion on the quality of the film itself.

Edited January 14th by white lancer

It's so weird going back and seeing Phi Coulson in this movie after having watched Agents of SHIED

Posted January 14th by tnu
tnu

but at least part of his motivation becomes helping people (i.e. others-focused) as opposed to simply making money and increasing his own personal fame.


See, I might agree with that if not for the way the film ends. He only decides to stop selling weapons after *he* is affected negatively by them. And then he only goes back to that village primarily as an act of vengeance. And at the end of the film, in front of a room full of reporters, he openly admits he is Iron Man because he loves the personal fame, which is where he was at at the start of the films. The only change is that he no longer wants to *sell* weapons. It's not even that he wants to stop building them.

But yeah, certainly it presents a character starting to channel his energy into a more specific outlet. But that's sort of what I'm not so keen on: it's just a generic origin story. Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3 look a little deeper (although admittedly not *that* deep). It just doesn't really register as anything really typical of a character arc, or one that is particularly meaningful or great (in my opinion, obviously).

I think the film is still quite enjoyable, though, to be sure. It does hold up, even if it feels very tame by comparison of more recent Marvel movies.

Posted January 15th by Jet Presto

See, I might agree with that if not for the way the film ends. He only decides to stop selling weapons after *he* is affected negatively by them. And then he only goes back to that village primarily as an act of vengeance. And at the end of the film, in front of a room full of reporters, he openly admits he is Iron Man because he loves the personal fame, which is where he was at at the start of the films. The only change is that he no longer wants to *sell* weapons. It's not even that he wants to stop building them.


Yeah, that's probably fair. As I said, that was my impression from memory, but I haven't seen it recently enough to argue it further. I saw somewhere that the "I am Iron Man" moment was actually ad libbed by Downey. Haven't confirmed that, but it would make some sense if the writers wanted to move him away from pure fame-junkie into being more altruistic, only to like that improvisation enough to muddy up that development. But I suppose it wasn't as focused of a character arc either way.

Posted January 16th by white lancer

The line might have been ad-libbed, but him taking ownership publicly is definitely not. Given the clearly planned reaction of the press corps, followed by Sam Jackson's planned post-credits scene, it seems pretty obvious that they intended him to admit it. I wouldn't be surprised if RDJ just came out and said it like that, though.

I do think that Iron Man as a whole is more interesting when viewed through the whole trilogy (which is interesting given it had two different directors). But it gets kind of...thematically confused by the end of the first film (and even the second).

Posted January 17th by Jet Presto

Having rewatched the film this past weekend, I still disagree that Stark doesn't go through a significant change over the course of the film. As I see it, just about everything Stark does after his capture seems largely motivated by his desire not to have his weapons kill anyone else, which is a big departure from the unapologetic weapons dealer he was at his Jericho demonstration IMO. I don't think it's at all fair to say that his return to the village is primarily revenge-focused--you can definitely interpret it that way, and it's a valid interpretation, but...unless I missed it, nothing is said explicitly about vengeance, he doesn't seem all that bothered by one of his captors escaping (and the only thing he does to the other is hand him off to the refugees), and he makes the decision to head over there while the news reporter is repeating things like, "there's very little hope for these refugees. Who could possibly help them?" I wouldn't quibble too much about an argument that revenge was a factor, but it definitely seemed more motivated by saving the refugees and destroying the Jericho than just straight revenge to me. To some extent, his motivations are still selfish--after all, he seems more bothered by the fact that it's his weapons that are killing people than anything else--but I see that as a motivation that's both heroic (or at least, far more heroic than he was initially) and wonderfully true to the character.

Regarding the ad-lib, the Feige interview I saw indicated that they intended to have Iron Man's identity a secret at the end of the film until they fell in love with the Downey improvisation. Maybe if they hadn't gone with the ad-lib, the character development would be a more obvious through-line, so I understand having an issue with it. I still like it, though--like I said, I see Stark as a work in progress at this point and I kinda like that he's both a hero and often an insufferable, arrogant asshole, and I like it when character development is believably non-linear (since changes in people in real life are pretty much never linear, either). Plus, it was a hell of a shock when it first happened and became a really iconic moment. I think it's definitely true that the MCU has some issues with development across films (and Stark himself is a good example of that, with him retiring and un-retiring seemingly with no real consideration later on), but personally I see it as pretty consistent across this film in particular. It's one of the reasons I still really like it--it may "just" be an origin story, but for me it's still a really, really good origin story with a solid supporting cast (Yinsin, Pepper, Coulson stand out in particular, though I agree that this actor for Rhodes is lackluster).

I do actually agree that Obadiah was something of a missed opportunity, unfortunately. He benefits from a charismatic actor and because he came along before we got to the "oh, great, the bad guy has the same/similar powers as the good guy" stage of the MCU, but...the fact that he was planning to assassinate Stark from the get-go really undermines any sort of personal connection the two have. He's not the bad guy because of anything Stark did, he's the bad guy because of sheer greed. Makes him far less interesting than if he was desperate because of Stark's decisions tanking the company and he was conflicted about his betrayal, or if there was really a sense of personal betrayal at all, but he's unrepentant about it throughout. It is nice that Stark's final battle is reflective of his conviction about no longer wanting his weapons to kill people, though, since his inventions would kill a hell of a lot more people if Stane won.

Posted January 28th by white lancer

I was thinking about the early part of the story where we see the magazine covers to convey Tony's background. There was like, a cover or two featuring Stane, and then he got replaced by Tony. It really, really, really feels like that would have been a rich vein for Obadiah's motivation. But it mostly just seems like he's motivated by...financial greed? It really isn't even that, specifically either. He just occasionally talks about bottom-lines and investors so we get the implication he wants wealth. Could have stood to have some scene really highlight a jealousy angle or something, too.

Posted January 29th by Jet Presto

Yeah, absolutely. I was actually surprised at how shallow his motivations were on rewatch (and I had forgotten that he was planning on assassinating Stark from the very beginning), and a jealousy angle would definitely have made sense based on the setup. The actor was super charismatic and fun to watch, so I don't hate him as a villain really, but he's not one that really stands up to much examination.

Posted January 31st by white lancer
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