IRON MAN Annotations - Looking Back at Marvel's First

 

We're counting down to Marvel's The Avengers, the next big film from Marvel Studios. This is the first serious live-action feature film to showcase a team of heroes who don't have the same basic origin and it's the first film to be done as a crossover of other superhero film franchises, uniting the stars of Iron Man, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger (while also recasting the character of Bruce Banner from The Incredible Hulk).

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.

 

Tony Stark is not only a weapons designer and brilliant scientist, but also a charming businessman with a reputation as a playboy. Stan Lee initially based the character of Tony Stark loosely on Howard Hughes. For this reason, Tony's father was later named Howard. And in Captain America: The First Avenger, audiences can see that young Howard Stark, played by Dominic Cooper, strongly resembles Hughes in appearance and public behavior, even more so than his son.

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 2005, almost three years before this film was released, writer Warren Ellis revised Iron Man's origin yet again, saying that Tony had been visiting soldiers in the field during the first Gulf War. During this visit, they were attacked and one of Tony's own specialized land mines exploded near him, sending shrapnel into his chest. In this version, it wasn't clear if the man who captured Tony after his injury was still supposed to be an agent of the Mandarin or if that aspect had been removed from continuity. For this movie, John Favreau kept the idea that Tony is injured by one of his own weapons, but placed the scene in Afghanistan rather than any specific war so that it would not become a period piece.

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.

 

The film jumps backwards in time to a scene that gives us quite a bit of exposition in a quick and clever way. As we learn about Stark Industries and the legacy Tony follows, we see Howard Stark, his father. In these photos, Howard Stark is portrayed by actor Gerard Sanders. In Iron Man 2, Howard is played by John Slattery. In Captain America: The First Avenger, a young Howard Stark is portrayed by actor Dominic Cooper.

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.

 

In this film, Obadiah Stane is presented as a friend and colleague of Howard Stark who becomes Tony's trusted advisor. In the comics, although Obadiah did know Howard Stark, they were business rivals and Howard once had to prevent Obadiah's company from taking over Stark Industries. Years later, Obadiah became a rival to Tony and secretly manipulated parts of his life in order to pressure the hero into succumbing to stress and alcohol again. Tony's breakdown left his company open to a hostile takeover, turning Stark International into Stane International. Eventually, Tony recovered and returned to fight Obadiah, who had developed his own larger, less advanced suit of armor and now jokingly called himself the Iron Monger.

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.

 

James "Rhodey" Rhodes is played by Terrence Howard, known for roles in Hustle and Flow, Ray and Red Tails. Here, Rhodey and Tony are old friends. Since Rhodey is wearing an M.I.T. ring, it's possible that they met through that university in some way. Or perhaps they met when Rhodey was assigned to be the liaison between the military and Stark Industries, which is his role in this story. In the comics, Rhodey met Tony soon after the man had escaped being a prisoner of Wong Chu. Rhodey was a pilot who had been stranded nearby. He and Tony helped each other survive until they were rescued by American forces and taken back to the U.S. When he later left the military, Rhodey then took a job as Tony's pilot and bodyguard, becoming a confidante and trusted ally. These days, he's better known as the armored hero War Machine.

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!"

 

Leslie Bibb plays reporter Christine Everhart. Along with being the star of GCB, she is known for recurring roles in ER, Crossing Jordan, Line of Fire, and Kings (the latter of which should be watched by everyone because it's brilliant). Leslie Bibb reprises this role in Iron Man 2. In this film, Christine Everhart works for Vanity Fair. In the world of Marvel Comics, she's actually a journalist for the Daily Bugle, the same newspaper that Peter Parker AKA Spider-Man usually works for.

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.

 

Tony's house, and much of the film, is located in California. For a time, Tony did live in L.A. in the official Marvel comic book stories, but normally he's located in New York City. However, Director John Favreau felt that too many superhero movies took place in New York. Tony's house here resembles the California home he once had in the comics. The house itself does not exist and its exterior is computer generated.

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 comics, Tony's family butler was Edwin Jarvis, an Englishman who later became the butler, housekeeper and chef of Avengers Mansion. The filmmakers felt that giving Tony an occasionally sarcastic British butler would draw too much comparison with Alfred Pennyworth and Batman and there were already too many similarities between Iron Man and the Dark Knight. On the other hand, several comics in the 1990s featured an A.I. program that ran Tony's personal lab and helped construct new suits that he designed. This A.I. was called H.O.M.E.R. (Heuristically Operative Matrix Emulation Rostrum). Thus, H.O.M.E.R. and Jarvis were combined in this movie to create J.A.R.V.I.S.

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."

 

J.A.R.V.I.S. is voiced by actor Paul Bettany, known for roles in A Beautiful Mind, A Knight's Tale, The DaVinci Code, Inkheart, Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang) and Wimbledon. It was during this last movie that he met John Favreau, who also played a role. Bettany did not know what film he was recording dialogue for but did it as a favor to Favreau. He recorded all his dialogue in two hours. Bettany returns as J.A.R.V.I.S. in Iron Man 2.

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.

 

After being attacked and captured, Tony wakes up to see that his life has been saved by the scientist Yinsen, who has already attached an electro-magneto to Stark's heart so it won't be shredded by shrapnel. In the original Iron Man origin, Tony designed and built this mag-field generator himself after he woke up, with help from Ho Yinsen, a brilliant physicist and technologist who had already been captured by Wong Chu. In the 2005 Warren Ellis retelling, Ho Yinsen was described as a brilliant "medical futurist" and it was he who designed and built the mag-field generator, though the idea was Stark's. Tony knew that Yinsen had successfully used magnetic fields to remove and manipulate shrapnel in land mind victims and hoped to use those techniques to save his own life.

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.

 

In the film, Yinsen remarks that the people who have captured him and Tony belong to a group called the Ten Rings. This organization works for one of Iron Man's arch-enemies, the Mandarin, a villain famous for wearing ten rings of power on his fingers. The Mandarin is a terrorist cult leader with great political influence who intends to bring the entire world under his control. The Mandarin's rings are products of alien technology, granting him seemingly magical powers. This, along with his mastery of hand-to-hand combat, have made him a powerful enemy. He has fought Iron Man one-on-one, through agents, through politics and media manipulation, and through corporate sabotage. Tony has often been frustrated by his inability to fully understand the Mandarin's alien tech, as well as by the villain's insistence that they are similar, both modern-day feudal lords who benefit from the work of those beneath them. As stated earlier, one retelling of Iron Man's origin did feature the Mandarin as being the secret enemy behind the hero's imprisonment.

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 says the mini arc reactor in his chest (at least the first one he builds) generates 3 gigajoules per second. He and J.A.R.V.I.S. remark that the updated version he builds in his personal lab is even better. A bolt of lightning gives off approximately 5 gigajoules.

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.

 

The leader of this sect of the Ten Rings is named Raza, played by Faran Tahir who is perhaps best known to geeks for his recurring role as Adwin Kosan in Warehouse 13 and his role as Captain Robau in the 2009 film Star Trek. At times, we see Raza touching a large ring on his hand. This may be a symbol of his master. Or it may actually be one of the Mandarin's rings, since he has occasionally given a single ring out to agents on special missions, knowing he can prevent it from being used against himself. Though, if Raza really did have a super-powered ring on his finger, it seems he would have used it at some point in this film.

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.

 

As Coulson says, S.H.I.E.L.D. is an intelligence agency with a special focus, namely taking on high-tech international threats and superhuman terrorists. In the Marvel Studios movie universe, S.H.I.E.L.D. originally started during World War II (apparently) as the Strategic Scientific Reserve, a force that included agents from all Allied countries and utilized a racially integrated fighting force. Howard Stark was a major part of it, designing technology for the organization. In the universe of Marvel Comics, the organization initially began as the Brotherhood of the Shield, a secret order that protected the Earth from alien threats and other disasters. It later somehow evolved and/or was replaced by the international spy and counter-terrorist force known as S.H.I.E.L.D. Various comics featuring S.H.I.E.L.D. and its agents have shown that much of their technology is created by Stark. For most of its existence in the comics, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s director was Colonel Nick Fury, though he was not its first leader.

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.

 

In the comics, Iron Man's most famous weapons are the "repulsor rays" in his gauntlets, devastating energy blasts. Later comics referred to Tony's unique armor tech as "repulsor technology," with magnetic repulsor generators powering the suit and repulsor emitters in his boots causing his flight. In this film, Tony creates the repulsor gauntlets to act as flight stabilizers and only later realizes that they can be used as an offensive weapon. They are referred to as repulsors in this film when Tony fights Stane and asks for "weapons status," at which point J.A.R.V.I.S. says that the repulsors are off-line. This idea that they were originally intended as flight stabilizers was later adopted by the official comic books and cartoon adaptations.

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.

 

Iron Man's suit ices up at a certain altitude and later he tricks Iron Monger into suffering the same effect, as Stane did not know to make his armor with a gold-titanium alloy. Icing only occurs in visible moisture (cloud, fog, rain) and occurs at temperatures of TAT +10 degrees C or below, and above a static air temperature of - 40 degrees C. When Tony (and later Stane) reach high altitudes, there is no visible moisture. There would be a greater chance of icing occurring if Tony and/or Stane had gone above clouds and then passed through those clouds on descent, after the outer shell of the armor had already cooled in the high altitudes.

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.

 

Speaking of the many looks of Iron Man's armor, you should check out our look at the evolution of his many suits in a 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.

 

When Rhodey is asking where Iron Man came from (before finding out it's Tony in a suit), he is told there is "an AWAC" in the area. This is a strange way of phrasing it, since the acronym is AWACS means "Airborne Warning and Control System" and you don't remove the S to refer to a singular AWACS aircraft.

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.

 

After his conflict with the Ten Rings, Tony is having his armor removed when Pepper catches him. If you look past him, his work bench is in the background. Resting on it is an incomplete replica of Captain America's shield. In this film, Tony mentioned that his father worked with the government in World War II. In Captain America: The First Avenger, audiences learn that Tony's father Howard gave Captain America his shield (which isn't true in the comics, but what the hey). Since Cap's shield is one of a kind, it makes sense that Tony would consider this a challenge and try to either duplicate it or build an improved model before later getting distracted and abandoning the project.

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 asks if saying that Iron Man is his bodyguard is a good cover story to maintain his secret identity. In the comics, the world believed for decades that Iron Man was indeed Tony Stark's high-tech bodyguard, whom he allowed to serve as a member of the superhero team Avengers, an organization he himself funded. When he was forced to become Iron Man in public, Tony's double identity was revealed to the world. Later, he put the genie back in the bottle by saying that personal concerns had convinced him to give up his role as Iron Man and that he had turned the suit over to a trusted friend and employee whose identity would remain secret. In actuality, Tony continued operating as Iron Man. During the story arc Road to Civil War, the U.S. government was considering the Super-Human Registration Act, which would require all super-humans and the like to register with the government and S.H.I.E.L.D. or be imprisoned. Tony met with the President of the U.S. to discuss this issue and was asked directly if he was still Iron Man. Tony answered yes and his identity has been public again ever since.

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.

 

In the parallel universe of Ultimate Marvel, Nick Fury was a black U.S. soldier who was experimented on by the people who were trying to perfect the super-soldier serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. This retarded his aging rate, but after several decades the U.S. government learned of him and his unique vitality and recruited him. He quickly became the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and later formed the Ultimates, an alternate universe version of the Avengers. In the Ultimate Marvel comics, this version of Nick Fury was quickly redesigned to resemble Samuel L. Jackson by artist Bryan Hitch. After discovering his likeness was being used in comics, Jackson discussed the matter with Marvel Comics and allowed the company to continue using this design. It all came full circle when he was then cast as Nick Fury for Iron Man, a role he has reprised in Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger and Avengers.

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]

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