Way back in 2008, you kind of have to wonder just how much was really planned for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU. It seems like there was at least a general idea for Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk to get movies, then team up for The Avengers. How much farther did it go? Did they have plans for Ant-Man or Guardians of the Galaxy or Jessica Jones? Did they know they would want Paul Bettany to become an onscreen character eventually in Vision when they cast him as Jarvis?
Regardless of the ultimate plan, Iron Man marks the official start of what would eventually become known as the MCU, as well as a new start to how Super Hero movies would be conducted. Super hero movies aren’t anything new, but they tended to embrace their comic book origin whole hog and go for the super fantastical designs and effects. The MCU, especially at the begging started off with at least some level of explanation behind everything, even if it was just a made up explanation, it would be one that worked in universe as explained.
There was also so much that just worked with Iron Man as well. Robert Downey Junior very much fits the style and look for genius playboy Tony Stark. The special effects are exceptionally well done, with care taken to lighting and little extra bits like shrapnel and general background visuals. Even right out of the gate we get some hint at what’s to come and how these movies will be #ItsAllConnected with SHIELD showing up briefly trying to recruit Tony. Iron Man is also one of the highlights of the MCU, and it holds up well with time. It’s a basic origin story of course but it doesn’t linger and drag with the origin part which is a trap many comic movies fall into. The best part is that the Origin itself ties in with the over arching plot across this movie and even across the entire Iron Man trilogy to some extent.
Anyway, going forward is the Spoiler filled synopsis section, so if you’re behind on your viewing, feel free to stop here.
So, the movie starts out with a general sort of introduction to who Tony Stark is. He’s rich, he makes weapons and loves them, he’s a womanizer, he is pretty care free in life due to all of this. We get some introduction to Tony’s assistants, Javis, the computer one, and Pepper Pots, the human one. Eventually, we find Tony cruising around making idle chatter with some soldiers in the Middle East after demonstrating some of his amazing overpowered weaponry.
His fun little trip comes to an abrupt end after his convoy is ambushed and he’s taken prisoner by a terrorist group and held prisoner to work on making weaponry for them. He has also taken shrapnel to his heart and is forced to carry around a battery attached to a magnet to keep the shrapnel from killing his heart. It’s a bit cheesy, but like I mentioned before, it’s explained and works in universe. Tony, being the ingenious creator that he is, builds a much smaller more portable power supply for his magnet, known as the Arc Reactor, which he then uses to power a secretly constructed suit of power armor to aide in his escape. This is what will become known as Iron Man Mark I.
Tony returns to his home and to the world where, motivated by what he’s done in a desert crap hole, he starts working on a new, sleeker, better suit of armor. He’s also motivated by the fact that his company’s weapons are being used by terrorists, and wants to change his ways and his legacy. His company’s second in command Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) isn’t too happy about Tony’s new drive to turn his company around from being a defense contractor.
We also get our first introduction to Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who is the face of SHIELD throughout what will eventually become “Phase 1” and later star of the show Agents of SHIELD. This also gives some brief insight into SHIELD, since they are already aware of everything that has happened with Tony Stark and are already trying to recruit him for their organization.
After an entertaining little montage of Tony working to construct his improved Iron Man armor (Mark II and III), Tony catches a news report of Terrorists taking hostages and using stark weaponry in the process. This is the time to roll out Iron Man to the real world, as Tony suits up and heads off to confront the situation on the other side of the world.
This is our first true introduction to Iron Man as we know him. He throws down his tech, he fights soldiers and tanks and jets and generally kicks some ass. This draws the attention of the US military and Stark’s buddy Colonel Rhodes (Terrance Howard) who is not super happy about Tony being in a military warzone.
Meanwhile Obadiah Stane is meeting with the terrorists from earlier in the film who have Tony’s Mark 1 armor, recovered from the desert. Obadiah is more sinister than he’s been letting everyone know. He has his mercenaries gun down the terrorists and he collects the armor and sets about working on a new secret project. Unfortunately, he can’t figure out the Arc Reactor bit so he disables Tony in his home and swipes the one from his chest.
An injured and dying Tony manages to recover the original smaller Arc Reactor from his lab, while Obadiah uses the newer, better, reactor to power his own massive suit of armor modeled after the Mark 1, this armor is known as the Iron Monger. Rhodes heads in to check on Tony and finds him in his weakened state and informs Tony that Pepper Pots is heading to Obadiah’s secret lab, along with Agent Coulson, to arrest Obadiah. Unfortunately, SHIELD isn’t prepared for the Iron Monger. Fortunately, Tony arrives just in time for the final epic showdown.
We also get a bit of foreshadowing of Rhodes and the spare Mark II armor and the comment “Next time maybe”. Spoiler in spoilers, Rhodes later gets his own armor.
Tony manages to defeat the Iron Monger and Obadiah. In the final moments, as Tony is holding a press conference to make up an excuse about the recent events, he admits to the world that he is Iron Man.
Since this is the first of the MCU movies, there really isn’t anything to be connected to (yet), so… this page intentionally left blank?
We get a bit of foreshadowing here. He get Coulson and SHIELD of course, SHIELD is kind of an underlying element in a lot of the Marvel Comics. We get Rhodes’s comment about “Maybe next time”. Theirs is also the first “credits sequence” scene. One thing these Marvel movies are well known for is a teaser for… something… in the credits. The credits sequence for Iron Man introduces Nick Fury, Director of Shield, played by Samuel L Jackson. He mentions, the Avenger Initiative.