IRON MAN Annotations - Looking Back at Marvel's First
So to prepare for this grand event, we're looking at all the previous Marvel Studio films that have been leading up to this team-up. First, we begin with the 2008 film Iron Man, featuring businessman/scientist Tony Stark who was imprisoned by guerrilla forces and freed himself by creating a high-tech suit of armor. The Marvel Comics character Iron Man was introduced in Tales of Suspense #39 in 1963. The character was created by Stan Lee, with his brother Larry Leiber scripting the origin story and artists Jack Kirby and Don Heck designing the original suit of armor.
This was the first live-action feature film to be done in-house by Marvel Studios. It was only in 2004 that Marvel Studios (originally called Marvel Films) was reformed to begin self-financing films. Plans for a movie based on Iron Man only began after Marvel Studios got the film rights back from New Line Cinema, which had produced films based on the Marvel character Blade.
The film is directed by John Favreau, who also plays the role of "Happy" Hogan, Tony Stark's chauffeur. Other films directed by Favreau include Elf, Zathura and Cowboys & Aliens. Initially, Favreau was in talks about directing a live-action film on Captain America as a comedy/adventure. But Favreau later chose to direct Iron Man and approach the story more seriously. He described his take on Iron Man as a cross between Superman, James Bond, Batman, Robocop and Tom Clancy novels.
Before Favreau was hired, direct/writer Joss Whedon was approached to possibly direct the Iron Man movie. Instead, he wound up directing Avengers.
Robert Downey, Jr. plays Tony Stark. Previous actors attached to the role included Nicholas Cage (who would later play the Marvel character Ghost Rider) and Tom Cruise, who also considered producing the Iron Man film if he were in it. Though he is roughly a decade older than the comic book version of Tony Stark (who began his career as Iron Man while in his twenties), Favreau felt that Downey's past involvement with the media publicizing his drug abuse gave him insight into the hero who struggled with trying to change his life despite what the media continued to say about him and who later realized he was an alcoholic. What's more, Robert Downey, Jr. was a fan of the Iron Man character and actually had his office moved closer to Favreau's so he could be more involved in how the script was put together.
The film opens up with Tony Stark conducting weapon demonstrations in Afghanistan. In the original Iron Man origin story, published in early 1963, Tony was visiting U.S. forces using his tech in South Vietnam. Years later, to prevent Iron Man's origin from seeming dated, the story was revised to say that Stark had been visiting a weapons plants in Southeast Asia. All of these stories involved guerrilla forces capturing Tony, at the command of a warlord named Wong Chu. In the 1991 retelling, Wong Chu was revealed to be an agent of the super-villain known as the Mandarin.
In the original origin by Stan Lee, the guerrillas who capture Tony simply intended to kill U.S. soldiers and were pleasantly surprised to find a brilliant, injured scientist who could make weapons for them. In nearly every re-telling, the guerrillas knew Tony had arrived from America and attacked with the specific plan of capturing him. In this film, the attackers intend to specifically kill Tony Stark but then kidnap him upon recognizing him.
Despite what this film displays, U.S. soldiers are trained not to stop a convoy when ambushed. What's more, the vehicle that Tony is riding in is an HMMWV and would have been armored.
During the documentary feature on Tony Stark, notice that a newspaper headline shows him with his first successful experiment in artificial intelligence, a robotic arm. This is the same robotic arm we'll later see in Tony's lab. The fact that Tony keeps the robot he built as a teenager, despite having long surpassed it by creating the A.I. program of J.A.R.V.I.S. shows us that he is far more sentimental than he wishes others to believe.
The film states that Tony Stark graduated from M.I.T. summa cum laude. In reality, M.I.T. does not give honors to graduates.
The film states that Howard Stark died in a car accident when Tony was in his late teens. In most Iron Man comics, it has been said that both of Tony's parents, Howard and Maria, died in a car crash when he was in his early twenties. In the S.H.I.E.L.D. comics by Jonathan Hickman, a scene indicates that Howard Stark actually faked his death by car accident in order to leave his family and company behind and dedicate himself fully to the world-protecting organization known as the Brotherhood of the Shield. However, this scene made no mention of Maria, who had always been said to have died with her husband, and it heavily implied that Tony was still a child when this occurred rather than in his early twenties. There has yet to be an explanation for this seeming continuity error.
Obadiah Stane is played by Jeff Bridges, an Academy Award winning actor known for many roles, including in films such as Tron, Starman, The Fisher King, The Contender, True Grit, and The Big Lebowski. After reading comic books that focused on Obadiah Stane's character, Jeff Bridges was excited to shave his head because he'd always wanted to do that for a role. Adding a beard was his own idea.
An early draft of the film's script had Howard Stark alive and well, becoming the villain Iron Monger and fighting his own son. Similarly, the 2007 animated film Invincible Iron Man had Howard Stark alive during the time that his son became Iron Man, with the story showing that a rift had grown between the two since the death of his wife Maria.
Speaking of M.I.T. rings, Rhodey is wearing his backwards in the style of an undergraduate.
At the awards ceremony and the casino, the music in the background is an orchestrated version of the theme song from the 1960s Iron Man cartoon series. "Tony Stark makes you feel! He's the cool exec with a heart of steel! As Iron Man, all jets ablaze, he's fighting and smiting with repulsor rays! Amazing armor! That's Iron Man! A blazing power! That's Iron Man!"
Since the Spider-Man films were done through Columbia Pictures, there is a potential rights issue if a Marvel Studios film mentions the Daily Bugle. Hence, Everhart works for Vanity Fair. For this reason, the character Ben Urich in the film Daredevil, from 20th Century Fox, was said to work for the New York Daily News even though, in the comics, he works for the Bugle as well.
Speaking of Spider-Man, an earlier draft of this script had Tony Stark revealed as the inventor the mechanical arms used by Spidey's enemy Doctor Octopus.
Virginia "Pepper" Potts is played by Gwyneth Paltrow, who reprises the character in Iron Man 2 and the Avengers movie. Originally, Rachel McAdams was approached to perform the role but turned it down. Paltrow said that one of the reasons she agreed to the film was because the set was roughly 15 minutes away from her home, meaning she would be able to still spend a lot of time with her young children. In the comics, Pepper was a low-level employee at Stark Industries but was promoted to be his assistant when she took the initiative and corrected errors he'd made in a document. Tony was thankful for the fix, which saved his company a lot of money, and was eager to have someone at his side who took initiative and would not be afraid to tell him when he was wrong. To this day, they are trusted friends and Pepper even got her own suit of armor and codename: Rescue.
In the Iron Man film novelization by Peter David, J.A.R.V.I.S. stood for "Just A Rather Very Intelligent System." In the official Iron Man comics, a few years after this film, Pepper Potts was given her own suit of armor. To help her with its system, Tony programmed the armor with an A.I. program he based on Edwin Jarvis' personality, naming it J.A.R.V.I.S., which stood for "Just Another Rather Very Intelligent System."
Tony's computer monitors display live transcriptions of J.A.R.V.I.S.'s dialogue. But in a few places, the words displayed do not match the words we hear, such as replacing "utilizing" with "using."
You'll notice by now that Tony very much likes rock and roll, particularly with powerful lead guitar sounds. John Favreau picked this style of music because he felt it reflected Tony's personality and his love of fast cars and flying machines, as evidenced also by his working on hotrods and by the various model airplanes and jets that surround his personal lab. Tony's fondness for hotrods with colorful paint jobs will also be used to explain his coloring of the Iron Man armor later.
On the plane, Rhodey remarks how ridiculous it is that Tony would call for alcohol during a morning meeting. Tony's drinking in various scenes of the film is an intentional nod to his increasing alcohol abuse. Likewise, Yinsen remarks minutes later that Tony was drunk while giving a lecture at a conference.
After having a few drinks, Rhodey tells Tony that he believes the man can be more than what he is now. This is actually the big arc of the story, though many miss hearing this remark since they are distracted by the dancing flight attendants.
Yinsen is played by Shaun Toub, known for roles in Charmed, The Sopranos, Chuck, Luck, The Bold and the Beautiful, and Broken Arrow. He also had a recurring role in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, so this is not the first time he's been involved in a superhero franchise.
Yinsen recalls that when he first met Tony, the man was giving a lecture on integrated circuits. For several years in the comics, as transistors became a thing of the past, Iron Man remarked that his special integrated circuits were a major factor in providing his fire power.
In the film, as in the original Stan Lee story, Tony quickly designs his first Iron Man suit after he wakes up as a prisoner and considers his situation. In later retellings, however, it was said that Tony had already designed a similar suit of armor for the military months before, calling it the "Iron Man Program." So the challenge wasn't designing the suit from scratch but rather in figuring out how to build a make-shift model from the materials available, a challenge aided by the fact that Yinsen's presence meant Tony had another genius to help him out. In one re-telling, Tony admitted to Yinsen that he'd had no intention of creating an army of Iron Men for the military, he just needed research funding. The real intention was to enhance humanity by creating new ways to interface with technology.
Originally, John Favreau intended the Mandarin to be the main villain of this film, with Obadiah Stane not turning traitor until Iron Man 2. However, Favreau feared that the character's seemingly magical powers would counteract efforts to make the film feel grounded in reality. Favreau said he decided to use the Mandarin similar to how Emperor Palpatine was portrayed in the original Star Wars trilogy, as a villain you did not see until a later film but whose presence could be felt. By the third Iron Man movie, audiences would have (presumably) seen the films Thor and Avengers introduce the idea that advanced (and alien) science could seem like magic and could co-exist in Iron Man's world. Now that Favreau has left as director of Iron Man 3, it is uncertain if the Mandarin will appear.
Yinsen remarks that the members of the Ten Rings speak various languages from around the world. This makes sense, as the Mandarin employs agents and followers in many nations.
Yinsen pours melted palladium into a cup. We can briefly see that it is a clear liquid form, not even red-orange hot. In reality, palladium is incandescent and glows yellow-white or white when heated and certainly when in liquid form.
Tony's power source is a miniaturized version of his clean energy arc reactor back at Stark Industries. In the comics, the original power source was just a high-powered magnetic field generator, later referred to as a repulsor energy generator. In the new cartoon series Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, an agent of Doctor Doom reports that Iron Man's armor "incorporates arc reactor and repulsor technology," combining the terms from the comics and the film.
As he creates a miniature arc reactor to power his heart, Tony remarks that his calculations are "always" correct. This is a display of his arrogance, since he repeatedly miscalculates things throughout the film. He miscalculates how powerful his flight boots are when he does his first test with them and he doesn't foresee the recoil strength of his gauntlet's repulsor flight stabilizers when he first activates them. He also disregards J.A.R.V.I.S.'s remarks about a possible icing problem with his armor, though in that case he was deliberately trying to push the suit's limits.
During their game, Tony tells Yinsen "sheesh o besh." This is Persian slang referring to a roll of 5 and 6. Shaun Toub is of Persian descent.
Raza mentions Genghis Khan to Tony. In the comics, the Mandarin has often claimed to be a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. Raza also claims that Genghis Khan's empire was "twice the size" of what belonged to Alexander the Great and "four times" the size of the Roman Empire. In fact, Genghis Khan's dominion reached about five times the greatest size of the Roman Empire and six times as large as the Macedonian Empire.
When he sees that Tony needs time for the suit to power up, he runs off to distract their captors and buy some time. This happened in the original origin story and in retellings, though one retelling stated that Tony needed time not to power up but for the suit's electro-magnetic field to adjust to his body so that it would not injure him as he wore it. Either way, the results were the same and Yinsen was killed by enemy gunfire.
When Tony returns to the U.S., he immediately cancels his weapons program. In the comics, it was years after starting his career as Iron Man before Tony made such a decision. However, it should be noted that following his imprisonment, most of Tony's military contracts dealt with non-lethal technology.
Clark Gregg plays S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson, a character created for this film. Initially, he believed this was a throw-away character and he was surprised when he was asked to reprise the role not only in Iron Man II, Thor, and Avengers, but also in a short film starring him alone that can be seen on the Thor DVD special features. Clark Gregg also plays Agent Caulson in the new cartoon series Ultimate Spider-Man.
In the movie universe, the acronym stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. In the comics, S.H.I.E.L.D. originally stood for Supreme Headquarters International Espionage-Law Enforcement Division and was a U.S.A. based organization. Later, it was reformed into the Strategic Hazard Intervention and Espionage Logistics Directorate and now operated for the U.N. rather than the U.S. Somehow, as shown in the stories Secret War, Avengers Disassembled and Civil War, S.H.I.E.L.D. once again fell under the authority of the U.S. How this happened exactly has never been explained.
Rhodey talks about the future of air combat and says that he has never seen an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) trump a human soldier's instincts and judgment. In fact, UAVs are remote controlled by human pilots, so Rhodey's argument is invalid. It would've made more sense if he'd said "no robot or computer will ever" trump a human's instincts and judgment.
Tony tells Rhodey that Iron Man is not for the military. Many stories over the years have focused on Tony refusing to share most of his Iron Man tech with the world, not wishing to cause a new arms race that would result in more deaths he would hold himself responsible for. Tony once learned that some of his tech had been stolen and then sold to various super-villains to make them more dangerous. This led to Iron Man hunting all of his misappropriated tech and disabling it, during a storyline called The Armor Wars.
Tony's updated armors greatly resemble the suit he was wearing in comics at the time, designed by Adi Granov. That's because Adi Granov worked on designs for this film as well.
As he tests out his new updated armor, Tony asks what the altitude level of a fixed wing aircraft it. J.A.R.V.I.S. tells him it's 85,000 ft for an SR-71. J.A.R.V.I.S. needs to update his files. 85,000 ft is the operational service ceiling for an SR-71 (though it has been known to achieve an altitude of 85,069 ft). Also, the record holder is actually the Russian Mig 25 Foxbat at 123,520 ft.
In the comics, when Iron Man first returned to the States and began operating as a superhero, he used a more advanced model that, on the outside, was identical to the same armor he built while imprisoned. After a few adventures, he saw that he was scaring some people and took a suggestion to paint his armor with gold paint, earning him the nickname of the Golden Avenger. For a moment, we see J.A.R.V.I.S.'s monitor display the armor as completely gold, a nod to this second look that Tony had in the comics. In this movie, rather than simply painting his armor gold, the reasoning is that a titanium-gold alloy will prevent icing.
Tony suggests adding a little "hotrod red" to the gold armor. Most of Tony's armors in the comics have followed this color scheme, beginning with his third standard suit of armor, designed by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko.recent Agent of S.T.Y.L.E article. Tony Stark arrives at a party and assumes the gray-haired man surrounded by women is Hugh Hefner. It is actually Stan Lee himself.
At the party, Tony can't remember Christine's name and guesses that it's "Carrie." The joke here is that "Carrie" and "Christine" are also both titles of Stephen King novels.
Tony gets furious when he sees footage of Yinsen's village after it's been attacked. He then dons his new Iron Man armor and seems to fly directly to the Middle East. Though Iron Man's suit is definitely capable of such long-range flight in the comics (with Tony able to use an auto-pilot function at times), there was originally a scene in this film where Tony publicly headed to Dubai to have a party there and then from the party he secretly flew to the nearby country where the Ten Rings were operating.When Iron Man turns on his Head Up Display (HUD) target lock, the sound is the same as the laser canon from the video game Space Invaders.
Tony is chased by two USAF jets labeled "Whiplash 1" and "Whiplash 2." One of Iron Man's recurring enemies in the comics has been named Whiplash (sometimes Blacklash, instead).
Rhodey's cell phone ringtone for Tony Stark is the 1960s Iron Man cartoon theme song.
After realizing the jets are chasing Tony, Rhodey says to the man next to him, "Major, we don't even know what we're shooting at." However, the man's uniform indicates that he is not a Major but a Lieutenant Colonel.
Rhodey blames the loss of a jet on an "unfortunate training exercise." He should really be saying "training accident," but whatever, we know what he means.
As Tony flies off to face Stane, Rhodey looks at the older armor model and mutters, "Next time, baby." This was, of course, a joke on his assuming the identity of War Machine, which was intended to happen in Iron Man 2. Many believed Rhodey would don the War Machine identity in this film, particularly when a TV spot showed an alternate version of this scene. In the TV spot, Rhodey asks if there's anything else he can do and Iron Man says "Try to keep up," before flying away, implying he wants his friend to act as back-up. In the actual film, Tony's answer is instead that Rhodey should keep the skies clear of interference from the military.
During the final confrontation with Stane, a sign in the background advertises the Roxxon corporation. In the comics, this is a major competitor of Stark Industries and has been responsible for various criminal operations and high-tech super-villains.
After defeating Stane, Tony is reading a newspaper that displays an out-of-focus photograph of Iron Man. This is actually an unauthorized photo taken by someone who came onto the production set and then leaked it on the internet.
Tony revealing his identity at the press conference in the end of this film ties back to his words at the press conference earlier in this same room. He said that he did not want to be part of a system that believes in zero accountability. By revealing he is Iron Man, he has made himself accountable to the public for his actions.
The words "I am Iron Man" refer to the opening lyrics of a 1990s Iron Man cartoon theme song. This may very well be coincidence, since they are more famous for the Black Sabbath song "I am Iron Man," an instrumental version of which plays immediately afterward during the end credits.
The stinger scene (happening after the credits) features Samuel L. Jackson appearing as Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. In the mainstream Marvel Comics, Nick Fury was a white guy from Hell's Kitchen, NY, who fought in World War II as leader of the Ranger unit known as the Howlers (nicknamed "Howling Commandos"). He performed some missions alongside Wolverine, Captain America and Bucky Barnes. He was injected with the Infinity Formula, a chemical agent that greatly reduced his aging rate and increased his healing and resiliency. This kept him looking relatively young over the next few decades, as he became a major player in the CIA, during which he was the boss of agents Richard and Mary Parker (Spider-Man's parents) and worked at times with Ben Grimm (the Thing of the Fantastic Four) and, again, Wolverine. He later became a Colonel and was appointed the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., partially due to the recommendation of Tony Stark.
Nick Fury quickly points out that Iron Man is not the only superhero out in the world. In the Marvel Studios movie universe timeline, Captain America predates Tony by several decades and Dr. Bruce Banner became the Hulk a few years before his imprisonment by the Ten Rings.
Nick Fury mentions the Avengers Initiative. In the comics, the initial Avengers Initiative referred to a S.H.I.E.L.D. program where every state in the U.S. would have an Avengers team with legal authority. After this program was disbanded, the phrase "Avengers Initiative" has referred to Steve Rogers' legal authority to form Avengers teams and recruit new members, making them legal agents with the authority to stop threats to the U.S. In the Marvel Studios movie universe, it seems to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. program inspired by the success of Captain America, where Nick Fury gets to recruit superheroes to take care of threats that can't be handled any other way.
And that wraps it up, kids! Be on the look out for upcoming annotations on other Marvel Studios films!
[Alan "Sizzler" Kistler is an actor and author living in New York City. He is the author of The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook, The Unofficial Batman Trivia Challenge and The Unofficial Spider-Man Trivia Challenge. He is a creator and host of the weekly podcast Crazy Sexy Geeks, available on iTunes. Alan has been recognized as a comic book historian and a Doctor Who historian by various publishers and media outlets. He thinks Isaac Asimov should be required reading in all schools. He can be found on Twitter: @SizzlerKistler]Related Stories:
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