Iron Man Retrospective

26th Jun 2022, 11:48 PM

So yeah, originally I was planning to do retrospective rewatches for Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk after the Avengers chapter was done. Buuuuuuuuuuut the closer I've gotten to actually starting that chapter, the more I've been thinking that it doesn't feel right to tackle these after the Avengers have already assembled. After all, build-up is important, that's the whole reason they did five movies before the Avengers in the first place and why I decided to adapt them each as their own chapters in the first place (even if abbreviated in some cases XD). Once I realized that it just became a matter of when I felt like sitting down and rewatching them, which in Iron Man's case happens to be now. Obviously. So let's get right to it with the usual list of rambling thoughts and observations!

  • I already feel like this is just going to turn into me saying things that other people have already said a thousand times before, but starting with almost immediately putting Tony in peril before doing some deeper character establishment goes a long way towards making him less abrasive at the start.
  • Tony's in an interesting position where after three solo movies, four team-up movies, and two major appearances in other people's solo movies, his morals and priorities undergo a huge change, but the character himself doesn't feel like he's changed all that much, if that makes sense? Infinity War and Endgame mellow him out a bit, but for the most part he feels like he goes out basically the same well-meaning but snarky button-pusher he started out as in the convoy.
  • Probably exposing my age range/ignorance of military history and perception here but I can't help but wonder how much different the whole "weapons developer" angle to Tony's character would have gone if this was made pre-War on Terror. I feel like it would've ended... kinda more in line with how I ended the comic chapter?
  • I don't think I ever included a joke about how it should have been obvious Obadiah Stane is the bad guy based on his name being Obadiah Stane. More's the pity.
  • I heavily relate to being unable to remember anyone's birthdays.
  • I'm not sure I can pin down why Terrence Howard isn't as good a Rhodey, but if I had to try, and I feel like I do, Cheadle's Rhodey feels like he's more Tony's equal. To be completely fair, Cheadle had more opportunity to demonstrate that idea even just comparing their first movies, but I really can't see Howard's Rhodey beating Tony up and taking an armor suit.
  • Tony's enunciation and emphasis during the weapons demonstration is absolutely magnificent. It's so awkward and stilted because you know a) he's hungover, b) he only wants to be there to show off his new toy, and c) he knows he doesn't have to be good at doing the speech, the tech speaks for itself.
  • I usually tune out the idea that Tony just has a hole in his chest to accommodate the electromagnet/arc reactor, but every so often I remember, and it is an unsettling thought. Carry on.
  • In the moments where they aren't being threatened by terrorists, Yinsen has the most "I don't give a shit, I'm dead anyway" aura whether he's cracking jokes or relaying sad backstory. No wonder he and Tony get along.
  • Re-imagining the Ten Rings as a terrorist organization is a really smart move. I've seen some takes here and there that this group we see in the first movie were also part of Killian's Mandarin scheme, and... I really don't understand where that idea comes from? Especially after Shang-Chi came out, the timeline is consistent with Wenwu re-consolidating his power after his wife died.
  • "If my math is right, and it always is." - the universe will remember that.
  • Okay you know what, I guess I can see it, if Raza's group are dumb enough to not immediately kill Tony after seeing that he's working on a mechanized leg that is clearly not a missile, they probably could qualify for Killian goons. Still, I maintain they are the real deal, if a little stupid.
  • Booby-trap on the door makes for some handy Iron Man 3-shadowing regarding what Tony can do without the suit.
  • The Mark I Armor is a thing of absolute beaty. By which I mean it actually looks ugly and unfinished and like an obvious prototype, and that's the beautiful part.
  • Another thing that qualifies these guys for apprenticeship under Killian, three of them with guns running from one guy with a gun.
  • There truly is little quite as satisfying as watching an appropriately powered-up hero tear through a room full of mooks.
  • Really, how did that one poor sap end up ricocheting a bullet into himself? I did him a favor making it a misfire.
  • I like the idea that it's not just the loss of control from being held captive that changes Tony's perspective, it's watching other people die for him.
  • I genuinely appreciate the restraint they showed in not playing Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" when he blasted off. That is more than I would have shown. Hell I probably would have had it start when he stepped out of the makeshift lab and started wrecking people's shit. I'm weak-willed, sue me.
  • While I still don't think Tony and Pepper are the BEST couple, and the first couple of movies in particular don't sell me on it as much as I'd like, they at least do a decent job setting it up.
  • Good to see you Phil. Hope you can come back someday. Or somehow get your spinoff show validated, even if it peaked at season four.
  • Y'know what I take it back the arc reactor replacement scene is dripping with chemistry. And an inorganic plasmic discharge.
  • Eccccccccch I forgot the spring break of 87 joke. Not great.
  • I like that Tony's first inclination when designing the suit is "I am not a hero and should not be wearing this. Rhodey should be wearing this." It is criminal that it took until Armor Wars for Rhodey to actually headline something.
  • Then again, maybe Tony careening into the ceiling was a dexterity problem and not a math problem. Might not be cosmic payback for the brag after all. Either way, him slamming into the ceiling? Priceless.
  • Not every superhero needs a "the hero learns how to use their powers" sequence, but since Tony's designing his powers I'd say that him figuring out the logistical hurdles of flight is not only acceptable here, it's crucial.
  • Apparently the suit freezing at high altitudes was not originally meant to be foreshadowing, it was just a scene that existed. Then they were having troubles getting the final fight with Iron Monger to coalesce and they realized they could bring it back. Just a neat bit of trivia there.
  • Tony's a better man than I for programming his AI buddy... *checks notes* pardon me, his natural-language user interface buddy to give him sass. I don't like it when I perceive my computer as disrespecting me, if I was better with tech not a single one would ever talk back to me.
  • His license plate says "STARK 4". I haven't been paying attention to the rest of his license plates, so I wonder what happened to STARK 1 through STARK 3.
  • Did Coulson guess Tony was going to show up? Or was he staking out Tony's house and followed him to the gala without Tony ever realizing? I choose to believe it's the latter.
  • Thank god the kiss did not happen there, would've been way too soon.
  • "Yeah they just put my name on the invitation I don't know what to tell you." I also make jokes instinctually and increasingly so when panicked. Very relatable.
  • Even if his is an obvious villain based on his name and tie, Obadiah is also a very charismatic fellow. So I guess I can't be too mad at everyone else for being fooled.
  • Something that never occurred to me until now, Tony almost never shuts up. But the first two times he suits up to fight the Ten Rings, he hardly utters a sentence. Which not only helps demonstrate how seriously he's taking this, but it also helps set up the secret identity swerve at the end.
  • The military pilot callsigns are Whiplash. Not sure I have anything to say about that, but worth noting.
  • Okay if the cigar and the tie and the name didn't give it away, Stane's uber-sinister pajamas should have.
  • "Let's face it, this is not the worst thing you've caught me doing." I still want to know what topped the list, thanks.
  • Standoffs between bad guys are generally a fun time. This is no exception.
  • I'm kind of surprised this sonic stunner never really comes back except presumably in the form of its larger, truck-mounted cousin in The Incredible Hulk. But I guess you can only use it so many times and have a hero live before it starts to reflect more poorly on the bad guys than anything else.
  • "I shouldn't be alive, unless it was for a reason" 11 years and numerous movies later, that hits hard. Because I feel like that's stuck with Tony ever since he said it.
  • "Now I realize, well, Tony never really did come home, did he? He left a part of himself in that cave." Another absolute banger of a line. Obadiah's right on the mark, even if not in the way he probably meant.
  • In general Pepper having to copy the files and play nice right under Obadiah's nose is suitably menacing. Thank goodness Coulson was there.
  • It's really funny to watch Obadiah menace the lab bois knowing that he's helping start a villainous journey to be paid off 15 years later.
  • I know it's a minor detail, not worth focusing on, but where did Obadiah get the reactor extractor? Did the lab bois build that too? Did he get exact measurements or did he just eyeball it and hope for the best? He's really lucky they were spot-on if that's the case.
  • DUM-E really is the best robot friend someone could ask for. Even with the unnecessary extinguishings.
  • The third act of this film is always the part that drops off for me. Not because it's bad, but because the rest of the film is just so damn good, whereas the last bits are... fine. Perfectly serviceable.
  • Maybe they should've called him Iron Miner. Because he digs up out of the ground you see.
  • A thing I will definitely give them credit for in this third act fight is that the ticking clock is not an actual ticking clock, but his reactor's energy levels. It's both a nice change and means that they don't have to either make the timer too long to matter or break suspension of disbelief by making a "five minute countdown" last longer than it should.
  • I just hear "Mmm whatcha sayyyyyy" every time I watch Stane start tumbling back to the ground, I'll admit it.
  • I like that Stane's total lack of practice with the suit means he can't aim worth a damn without a computer to help him.
  • Ah, a blue sky beam. Bet we'll never see that again. Ever.
  • Really I'm surprised anyone lives through that arc reactor explosion considering how far the explosion spread.
  • So I know per tie-in comics the explanation is that they didn't have the shorter abbreviation for SHIELD at first, but I choose to believe it's just Coulson's way of messing with people to say it the long way.
  • Ditching the secret identity was a masterful call. It's such a huge swerve from typical superhero movies of the time and it opened the door to really free up story-telling possibilities.
  • I feel like the fact that almost every unsuccessful attempt at franchise-building through post-credit teases gets compared unfavorably to Nick Fury's appearance at the end of this movie speaks volumes.

The first Iron Man may be the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I think the thing that gets missed the most (mainly by other franchises trying to duplicate its success) is that it's a very good movie in its own right. It has the SHIELD namedrops and the Nick Fury cameo at the end, but its primary concern is telling Iron Man's story and getting you to care about Tony as a character, and it very much succeeds. I definitely feel like some Marvel movies have gotten a little too jokey and irreverent at times, but even though this movie set the stage for that with its loose script and letting the actors just bounce off each other, the serious moments still actually play as serious, and obviously that's very important. When Tony's feeling the guilt of his past actions and complicity in what his company's done, you feel it too.

Other than that, don't really know what else to say that hasn't already been said. Maybe if the MCU ever does a full reboot we can get Tony fighting the Mandarin like they originally planned, but I think pivoting to Obadiah Stane was definitely the right choice. Thanks for reading, feel free to sound off with any thoughts you have about the first Iron Man, and stay tuned for The Incredible Hulk retrospective coming... at some point later this chapter.
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