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Marvel's Iron Man is a 2008 live-action film produced by 20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios, based off of the superhero Iron Man. It takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Earth-113599, being the first film of Phase 1. It was released worldwide on May 2nd 2008 to strong critical acclaim and box office success.

Production

In late 2005 it was announced an Iron Man film was being made as part of a shared universe for multiple Marvel superheroes. It was considered a risky property to center a movie around, as Iron Man was considered a B-List superhero. Because of that the movie was followed up by the more popular franchise The Incredible Hulk, to possibly help the movie if it didn't live up to Studio expectations. Despite it's risky nature however it still received a large budget and an A-List cast of stars. Including Robert Downey Jr, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Don Cheadle.

Jon Favreau was hired by Marvel Studios as the director, wanting to work on a superhero movie again after the lackluster Daredevil. Marvel Studios and Avi Arad in particular had desires for the film to be a spy or heist film with The Mandarin as the arch-enemy. Jon Favreau and Kevin Feige, though, were opposed to this idea. Both wanting a more simple, grounded and realistic story for the film. Favreau believing the Mandarin was too fantastical to be introduced so early. He also made the film a lot more based around Tony Stark's inner-struggle of going from a war-mongering businessman to a superhero, thinking that would be more interesting and nuance as well.

Later, Iron Monger was changed to the primary antagonist. With the Mandarin's terrorist organization, the Ten Rings making an appearance in the film as well. Marvel, before the movie created multiple comic book and animated series on Iron Man to try and raise public awareness of the hero. These proved to be successful as test groups actually did respond well to Iron Man as a hero, with the film being released on May 2nd 2008 around the world.

Cast

  • Robert Downey Jr as Anthony "Tony" Stark/Iron Man
  • Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger
  • Will Yun-Lee as Wong-Chu
  • Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia "Pepper" Potts
  • Jon Favreau as Harold "Happy" Hogan
  • Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes
  • Paul Bettany as J.A.R.V.I.S. (Voice)
  • Shaun Toub as Ho Yinsen
  • Leslie Bibb as Christine Everhart
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Director Nick Fury (Cameo)

Plot

The film starts off in Las Vegas, Nevada with an establishing aerial shot of the Stark Expo. Inside, the camera pans over the advanced technology on display throughout the interior while this song plays. Virginia Potts and Obadiah Stane are shown to be waiting behind the curtain, noticing the amount of people in the Expo. Pepper wonders where Tony is and Obadiah tells her that he doesn't know, assuming that he's running late, as usual, and that they should roll the video in the meantime.

The video plays, telling the history of Stark Industries: Founded by Howard Stark, Stark Industries has played a vital role in the Munitions Industry since World War II until Howard's tragic demise. Fortunately, his successor and genius son Tony Stark would soon after take over the company, and with the help and mentorship of Chairman Obadiah Stane, turned it to what it is now. A multibillion dollar conglomerate partnered with the United States Military dedicated to protecting America and its interests around the world. After the presentation finishes and the standing ovation, Tony is still nowhere to be found. Obadiah, desperate to save face, goes up to the stand and makes jokes about Tony's absence while talking about what it was like raising him all these years and what a bright young man he's grown up to be. Virginia meanwhile tries to call Tony telling him he needs to get down here now, that he’s keeping the entire armed forces waiting.

It then shows Tony in a Casino with his best friend and Colonel, James “Rhodey” Rhodes, both gambling and having fun until his Bodyguard and Chauffeur Harold “Happy” Hogan goes up to Tony and tells him the Expo started an hour ago and he's expected to be there. Tony says one more round of Black Jack but Happy assures him he said that five turns ago and Tony then sternly insists that he’s the reason the whole Expo exists, they’ll wait. Rhodey though responds that Happy has a point, he needs to be there or else the General is going to be on his ass. On account of Rhodey’s pleading Tony gives in and lets Happy drive them to the Expo. Once he gets dropped off Tony is confronted by Virginia, whom he patronizingly calls Pepper, and they start to bicker with one another about being late until he tells her to shut up and goes up to the stand, Rhodey sitting next to the rest of the Military personnel. Tony then proceeds to introduce his latest inventions, including the Jericho Missile. Which he claims is the latest and greatest bomb that will blow whichever country it is set upon right off the map. After the Stark Expo ends, Obadiah Stane and Tony talk about him being late to which Obadiah says he doesn't mind since he knows Tony's "ritual" is different than most, and as long as he keeps his mind sharp and the shareholders happy there's nothing to worry about. Tony thanks him and rhetorically says how he wishes Pepper would be more understanding.

Tony heads back to his limo, passing a group of anti-war protestors kept behind a velvet rope until one sneaks under only to be stopped by Happy Hogan. She introduces herself as Christine Everhart and that she’s a journalist for WHiH News who just wants to ask him a couple of questions. Tony allows it and she proceeds to ask him how he responds to accusations of being a "warmonger" and that his irresponsible, child-like behavior has led to the deaths of millions in the Middle East. Tony argues with Christine about these claims until she eventually becomes charmed by his witty remarks and sleeps with him at his Malibu mansion. She stays the night until being woken up by Tony’s butler, J.A.R.V.I.S. After admiring his extravagant house, Christine gets dressed and sees Tony doing calisthenics in the living room before asking him if he gets woken up like that every morning. Tony insists that what he programmed him to do and Christine insists she doesn’t understand. Tony tells her J.A.R.V.I.S. is an A.I. Just a Rather Very Intelligent Operating System no other Butler could keep up with him, so he had to make one that could. Christine rolls her eyes claiming of course and Tony tells J.A.R.V.I.S. to please escort Miss Everhart off the premises as soon as possible, he does as told.

Afterwards, Tony is then seen down in his basement listening to music while working on one of his cars. Pepper Potts soon walks down too and informs him that the Jet is ready to take him to Afghanistan for the Inspection Tour whenever he is. Tony stops working and begins listing everything her needs her to do while he's away. Pepper though explains she won't be able to do all of it since it's her birthday this weekend and Tony responds she shouldn't be celebrating since she's not getting any younger.

Act 1

Later, Happy Hogan is driving Tony to his private Jet with Obadiah Stane in the back. They both crack jokes and talk business to each other until getting the airport, where Obadiah wishes Tony a safe flight and encourages him to really sell this, he doesn't want go back to this "shithole" anytime soon. Tony agrees and walks to the plane where Rhodey is waiting for him, still mad the night before. He says how as a Colonel he can't be late out partying and that he was almost given Latrine duty. Tony tells him to chill out and says they could both use a little relaxing before they get to Afghanistan, insisting that it's going to be a long ride. It then shows during the flight they're partying once again as Rhodey gets drunk and opens up and about how proud he is to be serving his country. Tony eventually gets bored of his tangent and encourages one of the lap dancers to cheer Rhodey up so he doesn't have to keep listening.

After getting settled in Afghanistan, Tony arrives at the Jericho missile testing site where he gives a speech about fear and respect, while also showing the power of the missile on a nearby mountain, impressing the Military personnel. After the presentation is over, Tony grabs a glass of Whiskey and tells Rhodey he's got last year's Maxim cover models, twelve for twelve, all waiting for him back at the embassy, asking if he's in. Rhodey says not tonight, that partying with him these last few days has been fun but this is work, they've got work to do and Tony claims he just did his work, and now it's time to play. Stark then gets starts getting driven back to the embassy in a Humvee where he takes pictures and mingles with the soldiers escorting him. Suddenly, their convoy gets ambushed by a group of terrorists who begin blasting at the Humvee with a machine gun. One of the soldiers escorts Tony out of the vehicle and tries to get him to safety outside until getting shot. Tony starts to hide while fending for himself until he sees a bomb land next to him and blow up, launching shrapnel into his chest as he bleeds out on in the dirt slowly passes out.

Tony drifts in and out of consciousness as he gets kidnapped by the Terrorists where they use him to record a ransom video and afterwards perform some type of painful surgery on him. He then finally wakes up in the middle of a cave, noticing a crude magnet now attached to his chest which he attempts to rip out until his cellmate tells him in English that he wouldn't advise doing that, it's the only thing keeping him alive. Tony asks what's going on, where is he. The cellmate explains he's a captive of the Ten Rings, just like him, he points to a flag hanging above them of Ten Rings lined together in a circle with two swords crossing in the middle. Further saying that shrapnel had penetrated deep into Tony's chest cavity and he built that magnet to keep it from reaching his heart, "you're welcome." Afterwards, the Ten Rings barge in led by their commander who introduces himself as Wong-Chu, thanking Doctor Ho Yinsen for saving their Golden Goose, going on to say how there was a time when the bow and arrow was the pinnacle of technology, but now times are changing and the Ten Rings have no interest in being left behind.

Wong-Chu tells Tony he's going make him a Jericho Missile, the same one he made for his government. Stark refuses and the Ten Rings soldiers grab him while Wong-Chu explains they'll be taking him to China then to meet their leader, he has methods of persuasion he'll find to be most... compelling. As the soldiers start dragging him away Tony screams that he'll do it! They don't need to take him anywhere, he'll build them whatever they want. Wong-Chu speaks in Uyghur to his soldiers to let him go, bending down to Tony's level telling him that he is truly a man with no principles, willing to turn his back on his own nation just to save himself from a few bruises. Wong-Chu demands he start working as the Ten Rings soldiers roughly throw Tony down before leaving. Stark slowly gets up again and calls Ho Yinsen over, now knowing his name, telling him he's going to need his help for this.

Yinsen asks what they're going to do for them first and Tony says nothing, they're going to make something to get them both out of here instead. He then asks where he's from and Ho tells him a town called Gulmira and Tony wonders if he has family there, Yinsen insists that he did, likewise wondering if Tony does in America. He shakes his head and Yinsen claims they both have nothing then to which Stark replies they have just enough to make him a new heart. Tony and Yinsen are then shown in a montage working together with equipment given to them by the Ten Rings to build a portable Palladium powered Arc Reactor magnet to fit inside his chest and keep out the shrapnel. Ho Yinsen is so impressed by what they created he tells Tony that Arc Reactor must be generating at least three gigajoules per second and Stark insists that's what he hopes, just enough to power something big. Yinsen asks like what and Tony starts to sketch a blueprint of a mechanical suit of armor, Yinsen looking over it with approval. It then does another montage of Tony and Ho working tirelessly designing every piece of the armor with the limited resources they have, lying to Wong-Chu and the Ten Rings about what they're doing every time they go to check on them.

After it's completed Tony gets fitted into the armor and blows his way out of the work station. He plows through the entire cave with Yinsen by his side until Wong-Chu blasts Tony with a rocket launcher which hits right on his Arc Reactor. Yinsen reconnects the wires but realizing the armor needs time to charge all over again distracts the Ten Rings to give Tony the time he needs, helplessly getting sprayed with a barrage of bullets. The armor though is able to charge due to the distraction and Tony dispatches all the Ten Rings soldiers before attending to the fatally wounded Ho Yinsen. As Tony tries to save him, Yinsen confesses that his family wasn't killed by the Ten Rings, they were killed by Stark's weapons. That he could do so much good if he used his brilliance to help people instead of hurting them, begging Tony to stop wasting his life before finally dying. Stark continues to fight his way out of the cave and eventually confronts the entire Ten Rings armada outside the cave lead by Wong-Chu, which he burns using his built in flame throwers.

Once they're all slain, Tony uses the armor's Jetboots to fly off, only for them to give out shortly after and for him to crash in the desert, his suit breaking on impact. Tony then wanders for hours until being found by Rhodey and the Military who take him immediately to safety.

Act 2

After weeks of recovery, Tony finally returns to America only to see Pepper waiting for him at the airport, relieved to see he's still alive. Tony then gets into his Limo where Happy welcomes him back home before asking where to. He insists they get a Cheeseburger and Fries first before going back to the Mansion. In Malibu, Tony goes down to the basement and talks to J.A.R.V.I.S. about working on his car again. Just as he's about to get started though isn't able to do it, instead opting to build a new and improved Arc Reactor and afterwards telling J.A.R.V.I.S. to call for Pepper. He does as told and Pepper goes downstairs asking what he needs, only for Tony to break down telling her everything that happened with Ho Yinsen in the cave and how he doesn't want to make or sell weapons anymore, not just because of what it did to his heart, but to innocent people around the world. Pepper understands and points out Stark Industries is his company, he doesn't have to do anything if he doesn't want to. He thanks her for listening to him and then points out while he has her attention he needs her help with something. Pepper wonders what and Tony explains he needs her to switch out his current Arc Reactor for a new one he's been building, she agrees to do it and they then share a moment.

The next day at the Stark Industries Headquarters, Obadiah Stane personally welcomes Tony back as he leads him into a Press Conference, telling him that he's been personally overseeing upgrades on the Jericho Missile but that as a coming home present he'll get to announce them. Tony then goes up to the Podium but instead of discussing the Jericho Missile announces that Stark Industries is going to stop selling the Missile and will drop out of the weapon's development industry all together, much to everyone's shock. Obadiah ends the meeting early and pulls Tony aside into another room, asking him what this is all about. Tony explains that he saw things in Afghanistan, innocent people being senselessly killed because of his weapons, because of him. Obadiah responds to Tony that everyone knows collateral damage is a tragedy, but to think about what will happen to company stock from this, they're Iron Mongers, they make weapons, and if they don't then somebody else will, someone who'll probably be even less responsible than they are.

Tony insists if even one person dies who shouldn't have because of something he made, that blood is on his hands. Obadiah points out that he can't blame himself, he's just one cog in a bigger machine. If he stops now he'll just be putting thousands of families out of a job. Stark though claims they'll make something else, technology that helps people, not hurt them. Obadiah asks like what and Tony opens his shirt, revealing his Arc Reactor, explaining to him that it's a Palladium based magnet keeping shrapnel out of his heart, maybe they can do something with this. Stane though argues technology like that is a dead end and isn't worth the investment, they argue about it more until Pepper interrupts them by announcing that there's going to be a party for Tony's return tomorrow night and that they're both invited. At the party the next day, Tony is chatting with Rhodey giving the same lecture as before about how he doesn't want to keep contributing chaos to a war torn region. Rhodey acknowledges that there are problems in the system but Tony refusing to make weapons also means that their guys aren't going to have what they need either. Tony asks what that is and Rhodey responds protecting their country.

Later, Christine Everhart approaches Tony and tells him he looks great after everything that happened but he doesn't recognize her until she reminds him. Christine then admires him for dropping out of the weapon's business, but points out that the Ten Rings have recently been terrorizing Afghanistan using Stark Industries issued weapons, doing more damage than eve he did. Tony is disgusted by this and confronts Obadiah Stane about his weapons ending up in possession of the Ten Rings, demanding to know if they're dealing under the table. Obadiah claims of course not, they were probably just stolen during raids or bought off the black market, he knows how this goes. Tony responds that he doesn't because he thought ceasing production was going to end this. Obadiah says how this is just more proof of what he was saying, the fastest road to peace is what they were already doing but Tony argues that can't be true. Stane puts his arm around Tony and whispers to him that they're a team, they're in this together, he made his point that they need more accountability, he'll give it to him, but to please stop this nonsense and let them keep doing what they do best, he's begging of him. Tony though simply leaves the party without responding to him.

Tony drives back home and in the Basement sees a gift from Pepper, his original Arc Reactor in a container with an engraving on it, Proof Tony Stark has a heart. Seeing that he then starts spending the next couple of weeks working with J.A.R.V.I.S. on building a Mark II version of his suit. Eventually, creating hand and feet repulsers that allow him to levitate off the ground which after many attempts Tony is able to seamlessly make work. He then constructs the rest of the Mark II suit, making it sleeker and more high tech, which he then uses to fly out of his driveway and all over Los Angeles. Having fun and admiring that the design seems to completely work. Tony then flies right back into his Malibu Mansion and lands proudly stating "Yeah, I can fly." Later, while Dum-Es are trying to take the suit off Pepper comes in and catches him partially in the suit. When she questions him about it he tells her that the Ten Rings are still out there. That changing the company wasn't enough, he wants to make a difference, a real difference, stop the demons he's already created. He shows her the entire suit and she comments that it could use some color, which Tony actually thinks isn't a bad idea.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan a group of Mercenaries have just uncovered the remains of Tony's Mark I suit in the middle of the desert. They call Obadiah Stane telling him that they found what he hired them to find. Obadiah then instructs them to bring it back to the United States before he hangs up and meets with Happy Hogan. Happy asks what he needs and Obadiah explains how he's been getting a little worried about Tony recently. He's not partying like he used to, he stopped all of his weapon's development projects out of nowhere, theorizing he might be depressed. Happy acknowledges he's noticed it too but doesn't know how to help, Tony's never been the most emotionally open guy, but after what happened anyone would need support, but he's just shut everyone out.

End credits

Teasing Iron Man 2

Tony Stark in his house late at night as goes upstairs to see a man looking out the window. Repeating the lines "I am Iron Man" and asks Tony if he thinks Iron Man is the only superhero out there, Insisting that he's just one part of a bigger story. He then turns around and introduces himself as Director Nick Fury and asks Tony if he's ever heard of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Trivia

  • Tony Stark was originally captured in Vietnam during the 1960s, this was changed to Afghanistan, taking place decades later to modernize the film. Inspired largely from the adaptation shown by the Extremis story arc.
  • Obadiah Stane in the comics was originally a rival to Stark Industries, not part of it. He lead a group of super villains called the Chessmen.
  • James "Rhodey" Rhodes looks at the Iron Man armor and says "Not today" a reference to his role in the comics as Iron Man's sidekick, the War-Machine.
  • J.A.R.V.I.S. in the original Iron Man comics was Tony Stark's real life butler named Edwin Jarvis. Jon Favreau adapted the Ultimate version of the character (Who's an AI) in order to avoid comparisons to the DC Comics character and butler to Bruce Wayne Alfred Pennyworth.
  • Happy Hogan's dream job, being a Boxer, is based on his original career in the comics.
  • Right before Tony and Pepper are about to kiss, they are interrupted by Happy Hogan. A reference to the fact Pepper and Happy were married in the comics.
  • Nick Fury, who appeared at the end credits of the movie is the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., an organization Iron Man in the comics has frequently worked with as an Avenger and superhero around the world
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