So kicking off an MCU catchup now as one can’t help but notice that there is pretty much exactly 20 films to get through (not including Cap’n Marvel) until Endgame in April, and I can definitely see it taking some time to work through these beasts!
For one thing its still hard to really get my head around that Iron Man came out in 2008. Besides the actual film there is a surprising amount of “baggage” for want of a better word, in watching this film. For one thing one can’t help but do that weird hindsight thing where Iron Man is watched in the context of spawning another dozen Marvel movies (not to mention the series too) and influencing the movie scene for the next 10+ years (who knows how long superhero movies will dominate.)
Considering the above its actually quite weird to watch Iron Man again and basically experience a movie that is trying to convince audiences to embrace the idea of a superhero movie and the possibility of a Shared Universe. Compared to a modern MCU or even other comic book adaptation movies Iron Man is actually pretty boring, the majority of the film is devoted to not just origin story, but ‘setup’ of the character as a superhero. But one does have to consider where superhero movies were at in 2008… the somewhat massive Dark Knight came out at the same time as Iron Man and audiences where loving the Nolan trilogy, however equally the X-men and Spiderman trilogies had risen and fallen with bad 3rd movies.
Overall I think people were pretty anxious about comic book adaptations, audiences wanted them, but didn’t want to see characters get “ruined.”
Anywho, so all of this plays into why rewatching Iron Man feels kind of odd, tonally you can see the beginning of MCU signature styles, quippy humour and bombastic action yet in the original movie you can also see the creators playing it safe and somewhat broadly. To be honest Iron Man is tonally all over the place, the movie begins with Tony getting ambushing and the soldiers he’s just befriended getting brutally slaughtered, we then jump back in time for some character ‘development’ which is basically just several sequences to show what an Asshat Tony is to pretty much everyone. The whole sequence of Tony being captured, and his subsequent escape is fairly gritty and dark and well designed to show Tony’s change from asshat to hero, however throughout the rest of the movie everything feels somewhat uncomfortable, like the creators were still experimenting with the balance of humour and seriousness and they weren’t too sure what they could pull off or not. While there were some great punchlines, Iron Man actually feels more like an extended exercise in suspending audience disbelief with actually very small action sequence payoffs rather than an MCU movies.
Still one can’t ignore the positive side to this film, where is not for its success the MCU probably wouldn’t exists, or perhaps would exist as a niche thing, rather than the juggernaut the series is today. While there are the above mentions, the plot is pretty solid, RDJ is great as Iron Man, and despite some pretty cheesy moments and tropey process Iron Man continues to be a pretty solid film.
With some hilarity I note that I have set myself up to watch Iron Man II next, even though technically Incredible Hulk is next on the list – do we all just deny the existence of that movie?