Directed by Jon Favreau, 2008’s Iron Man tells a story of a genius inventor who designs incredibly powerful armour to help protect the world against evil.
One of the most important films in modern movie history, Marvel’s Iron Man helped launch the cinematic superhero universe that we know and love today. It’s hard to believe that Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t first choice for the role - who could play it better that him?
Who is Iron Man?
Iron Man is a 2008 superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character with the same name. The man behind the invincible Iron Man is billionaire industrialist and master engineer, Tony Stark, who creates a high-powered exoskeleton to become a modern day knight in high-tech armour, spending his time combatting crime and fighting for justice.
Iron Man was a gamble
We're used to the idea that Marvel movies are guaranteed best-sellers, however that wasn't always the case. After previously selling their film licenses to external studios, inspired by the likes of Lucasfilm, Marvel decided to make their own movies.
Although the character was very well established, having made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 in March 1963, as the studio’s first self-financed film (and the first time the character had appeared on screen) there was a lot of pressure on Iron Man to perform. Whilst the character had proven to be extremely popular amongst comic book fans, Iron Man was a risky proposition for Marvel to hang their entire future on. This was the first film from an untested studio. Not only were they trying to establish themselves, but they were also setting the tone for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Iron Man premiered in Sydney on April 14th, 2008, launching the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe alongside it and fans weren’t disappointed. The film received widespread critical acclaim and an overwhelming response from all over the world. With particular praise to Downey’s performance (which was nominated for an Academy Award), his fantastic portrayal of the character was a key part of the film’s overall success.
This makes it hard to believe that he was not first choice for the role. It was director Jon Favreau that fought Downey’s corner when it came to casting. Seeing the significant similarities between his personal life and the character, Favreau championed him as the perfect person to portray this self-indulgent waster turned superhero. The films tell a story of a charismatic playboy, who experiences a moral epiphany, setting him on a path of redemption by saving the world.
But the story was far from over in Iron Man.
Like any successful film, it was natural that a sequel would follow
For a movie that worked from an outline and rehearsals rather than a full script, the success was overwhelming. The producers had managed to figure out how to build and establish a new universe while also creating a (massively popular) self-contained film.
Following the success of the first film, the obvious next step was to start work on a sequel and that’s exactly what they did. Iron Man 2 was released in May 2010 and enjoyed much of the same box office success. Some three years later Iron Man 3 was released, which is currently the biggest money maker out of the trio.
What’s next for Iron Man?
As it stands Downey Jr. hasn’t hung up his Iron Man suit, but don’t get too excited just yet. Robert Downey Jr. has signed a contract with Marvel Studios, to confirm his appearances in The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers 3. But for now, it doesn’t look like Iron Man 4 is on the cards.