Iron Man (film)

Iron Man (film)
Iron Man

Theatrical poster
Directed by Jon Favreau
Produced by Avi Arad
Kevin Feige
Screenplay by Mark Fergus
Hawk Ostby

Art Marcum
Matt Holloway
John August
Based on Iron Man by
Stan Lee
Larry Lieber
Don Heck
Jack Kirby
Starring Robert Downey, Jr.
Terrence Howard
Jeff Bridges
Gwyneth Paltrow
Music by Ramin Djawadi
Cinematography Matthew Libatique
Editing by Dan Lebental
Studio Marvel Studios
Fairview Entertainment
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) May 2, 2008 (2008-05-02)
Running time 126 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $140 million[1]
Box office $585,174,222[1]

Iron Man is a 2008 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Directed by Jon Favreau, the film stars Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark, an industrialist and master engineer who builds a powered exoskeleton and becomes the technologically advanced superhero, Iron Man. Gwyneth Paltrow plays his personal assistant Pepper Potts, Terrence Howard plays military liaison James Rhodes and Jeff Bridges plays Stark Industries executive Obadiah Stane.

The film was in development since 1990 at Universal Studios, 20th Century Fox, and New Line Cinema, before Marvel Studios reacquired the rights in 2006. Marvel put the project in production as its first self-financed film. Favreau signed on as director, aiming for a naturalistic feel, and he chose to shoot the film primarily in California, rejecting the East Coast setting of the comics to differentiate the film from numerous superhero films set in New York City-esque environments. During filming, the actors were free to create their own dialogue because pre-production was focused on the story and action. Rubber and metal versions of the armors, created by Stan Winston's company, were mixed with computer-generated imagery to create the title character. Hasbro and Sega sold merchandise, and product placement deals were made with Audi, Burger King, LG and 7-Eleven.

Reviews were very positive, particularly praising Downey's performance.[2] The American Film Institute selected the film as one of the ten best of the year. Downey, Favreau and Paltrow returned in the sequel Iron Man 2, released on May 7, 2010. Downey also made a cameo appearance as Stark in The Incredible Hulk and is scheduled to appear in the 2012 crossover film The Avengers. The film is the first installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Another sequel, Iron Man 3 is set for a 2013 release, with Downey reprising the role of Tony Stark.



Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) is the head of Stark Industries, a major military contracting company he inherited from his father. Even though Stark is an inventive genius and wunderkind, he is also a playboy. One day, while his father's old partner, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), takes care of day-to-day operations, Stark flies to war-torn Afghanistan with his friend and military liaison, Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes a.k.a. "Rhodey" (Terrence Howard), for a demonstration of Stark Industries' new weapon, the "Jericho" missile. However, Stark is critically wounded in an assault and finds himself the prisoner of an Afghan terrorist group known as the Ten Rings. Shrapnel in his chest is kept from entering his heart and killing him by an electromagnet built by fellow captive Dr. Yinsen (Shaun Toub). The Ten Rings leader, Raza (Faran Tahir), offers Stark his freedom in exchange for building a Jericho missile for the group, but Tony and Yinsen agree Raza will not keep his word.

During his three months of captivity, Stark and Yinsen secretly build a powerful electric generator called an arc reactor, which will power Stark's electromagnet, and then begin to build a suit of armor to escape. The Ten Rings attack the workshop when they discover what Stark is doing, and Yinsen fights back to buy Stark time as the suit powers up. The armored Stark battles his way out of the caves and finds the dying Yinsen, who tells him not to waste his life. Stark burns the terrorists' munitions and flies away to crash in the desert, destroying the suit. After being rescued by Rhodes, Stark returns home and announces that his company will no longer manufacture weapons. Stane advises Stark that this may ruin Stark Industries and his father's legacy. In his home workshop, Stark builds an improved version of his suit as well as a more powerful arc reactor for his chest.

When Stark makes his first public appearance after his return, reporter Christine Everhart (Leslie Bibb) informs him that Stark Industries' weapons, including the Jericho, were recently delivered to the Ten Rings and are being used to attack Yinsen's home village. He also learns that Stane is trying to succeed him as head of the company. Enraged, Stark decides to intervene using his now finished suit. In a lengthy and elaborate scene, Stark dons his new armor and then flies to Afghanistan where he saves Yinsen's village and turns Raza's subordinate over to the villagers. While flying home, Stark is shot at by two F-22 Raptor fighter jets. He calls Rhodes on his cell phone and reveals his secret identity in an attempt to get the attack called off. Meanwhile, the Ten Rings find the pieces of Stark's prototype suit and meet with Obadiah, who has the group eliminated and has the company's engineers reverse engineer a new suit from the wreck. Seeking to find any other weapons delivered to the Ten Rings, Stark sends his assistant Virginia "Pepper" Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) to hack into the company computer system from Obadiah's office. She discovers Obadiah has been supplying terrorists with Stark weaponry and hired the Ten Rings to kill Stark, but the group reneged on the deal upon discovering who the target was. Pepper, soon after, meets with agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) of the "Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division", a counter-terrorism agency, to inform him of Obadiah's activities.

Stane's scientists cannot duplicate Stark's arc reactor, so Stane ambushes Stark in his home, using a sonic device to paralyze him and take his arc reactor. Left to die, Stark crawls to his lab and retrieves his original reactor. Potts and several S.H.I.E.L.D. agents attempt to arrest Stane, but are attacked by him in his now functional suit. Stark races to the rescue and fights Stane, but is quickly overpowered without his new reactor to run his suit at full capacity. Stark lures him atop the Stark Industries building and instructs Potts to overload the large arc reactor in the building. This unleashes a massive electrical surge that knocks Stane unconscious, causing him and his armor to fall into the exploding reactor. The next day, the press has dubbed Stark in his armor as "Iron Man". Agent Coulson gives him a cover story to explain the events of the night and Stane's death. At a press conference, Stark starts to tell the cover story given to him by S.H.I.E.L.D., but then announces that he is Iron Man.

In a post-credits scene, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) visits Stark at home, and, noting that Iron Man is not "the only superhero in the world", says he wants to discuss the "Avenger Initiative".


  • Robert Downey Jr. as Anthony "Tony" Stark / Iron Man: An industrialist, genius inventor, and consummate playboy, he is CEO of Stark Industries, a chief weapons manufacturer for the U.S. military. The son of a Manhattan Project engineer, Howard Stark, he is an engineering prodigy, having built a circuit board at four years old and an engine at six, as well as graduating from MIT summa cum laude at the age of 17. He takes charge of Stark Industries at the age of 21 from Stane, who had been in control of the company since Howard's death. Favreau had planned to cast a newcomer in the role,[3] but ultimately chose Downey (a fan of the comic)[4] because he felt the actor's past made him an appropriate choice for the part. "The best and worst moments of Robert's life have been in the public eye," the director explained. "He had to find an inner balance to overcome obstacles that went far beyond his career. That's Tony Stark. Robert brings a depth that goes beyond a comic book character who is having trouble in high school, or can't get the girl."[4] Favreau also felt Downey could make Stark a "likable asshole", but also depict an authentic emotional journey once he won over the audience.[5] Downey had an office next to Favreau during pre-production, which allowed him greater involvement in the screenwriting process.[6] He brought a deeper sense of humor to the film not present in previous drafts of the script.[7] He explained,

"What I usually hate about these [superhero] movies [is] when suddenly the guy that you were digging turns into Dudley Do-Right, and then you're supposed to buy into all his 'Let's go do some good!' That Eliot Ness-in-a-cape-type thing. What was really important to me was to not have him change so much that he's unrecognizable. When someone used to be a schmuck and they're not anymore, hopefully they still have a sense of humor."[8]

To prepare, Downey spent five days a week weight training and practiced martial arts to get into shape,[4] which he said benefited him because "it's hard not to have a personality meltdown [...] after about several hours in that suit. I'm calling up every therapeutic moment I can think of to just get through the day."[9]

Howard preparing for the role by riding an F-16 flight simulator
  • Terrence Howard as Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes: A friend of Stark's, and the liaison between Stark Industries and the U.S. Air Force in the department of acquisitions. Favreau cast Howard because he felt he could play War Machine in a sequel.[10] Howard prepared for the role by visiting Nellis Air Force Base on March 16, 2007, where he ate with the pilots and observed HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopters and F-22 Raptors.[11] While Rhodes is roguish in the comics after he met Stark, his earlier disciplinarian character forms a dynamic with Stark, and he is unsure whether or not Stark's actions are acceptable. "Rhodey is completely disgusted with the way Tony has lived his life, but at a certain point he realizes that perhaps there is a different way," Howard said. "Whose life is the right way; is it the strict military life, or the life of an independent?"[9] Howard and his father are Iron Man fans, partly because Rhodes was one of the few black superheroes when he was a child.[12] He was a Downey fan since he saw him in Weird Science, and they competed physically on set: "Robert and his competitive ass almost tore my shoulder trying to keep up with him. Because I'm 40 or 50 pounds heavier than him, so I'm in there lifting and I pushed up about 225 pounds [102 kg] and knocked it out 10 times. Robert wanted to go about 235 [106 kg], and he did it. So I'm going to push it up to about 245 [111 kg]. I took him out running and gave him some nice cramps. He couldn't walk after a couple of days."[13]
  • Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane: Stark's business second-in-command and eventual antagonist. Bridges read the comics as a boy and liked Favreau's modern, realistic approach. He shaved his head and grew a gray beard for the role, which was something he had wanted to do for some time. Bridges googled the Book of Obadiah, and he was surprised to learn retribution is a major theme in that particular book of the Bible, something which Stane represents.[14] Many of Stane's scenes were cut out to focus more on Stark, but the writers felt Bridges's performance allowed the application of "less is more".[15]
  • Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia "Pepper" Potts: Stark's personal assistant and budding love interest. Paltrow asked Marvel to send her any comics that they would consider relevant to her understanding of the character, who she considered to be very smart, levelheaded, and grounded. She said she liked "the fact that there's a sexuality that's not blatant." Favreau wanted Potts' and Stark's relationship to be reminiscent of a 1940s comedy, something which Paltrow considered to be fun in a sexy, yet innocent way.[16]
  • Shaun Toub as Dr. Yinsen: Stark's fellow captive. In the comics, Yinsen is a Chinese physicist, but in the film, he comes from an Afghan village called Gulmira, which is one of the aspects of the modernization of the Iron Man mythos for the movie.
  • Faran Tahir as Raza: The leader of the Ten Rings. Tahir is a fan of the comics,[14] and wanted to bring humanity to the henchman. "I tried to find ways to show that although he may be the bad guy, there might be a moment or just a hint of vulnerability at times, where he hasn't made the right calculations or there's a certain amount of doubt. Jon was very receptive to that kind of layering."[17]
  • Paul Bettany voices JARVIS: Stark's personal Artificial Intelligence computer program, which assists him in the construction and programming of the Iron Man suit. The name of the character is a reference to the comic book character Edwin Jarvis, Stark's butler. In Peter David's novelization of the film, Jarvis is revealed as an acronym for "Just A Rather Very Intelligent System".[18] Bettany did the part as a favor to Favreau (having worked with him on Wimbledon) and said he did not know what film he was recording the lines for during his two-hour recording session.[19]
  • Leslie Bibb as Christine Everhart: A reporter for Vanity Fair. She is a minor character in the comics, where she works as a reporter for The Daily Bugle and has investigated Tony Stark.[20]



In April 1990, Universal Studios bought the rights to develop Iron Man for the big screen.[27] Stuart Gordon was to direct Universal's low-budget film.[9] By February 1996, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights from Universal.[28] In January 1997, actor Nicolas Cage expressed interest in being cast for the lead role,[29] and in September 1998, actor Tom Cruise had expressed interest in producing as well as starring in the film debut of Iron Man.[30] Jeff Vintar and Iron Man co-creator Stan Lee co-wrote a story which Vintar adapted into a screenplay. Jeffrey Caine (GoldenEye) rewrote Vintar's script.[31] Director Quentin Tarantino was approached in October 1999 to write and direct Iron Man.[32] With no deal made, Fox eventually sold the rights to New Line Cinema the following December.[33] By July 2000, the film was being written for the studio[34] by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio,[31] and Tim McCanlies.[35] McCanlies's script used the idea of a Nick Fury cameo to set up his own film.[31] New Line entered talks with Joss Whedon, a fan of the character Iron Man, in June 2001 for the possibility of the director taking the helm.[36] In December 2002, McCanlies had turned in a completed script.[37]

"We worked with Michael Crichton's researchers to find a grounded realistic way to deal with the suit. The idea was he needed the suit to stay alive. He's the same guy we used with Spider-Man 2 to come up with Doc Ock's inhibitor chips and what the arms are made of and how they work. [...] Mandarin was an Indonesian terrorist who masqueraded as a rich playboy who Tony knew."

—Alfred Gough on his draft for Nick Cassavetes' and New Line's aborted version[38]

In December 2004, the studio attached director Nick Cassavetes to the project for a target 2006 release.[39] After two years of unsuccessful development, and the deal with Cassavetes falling through, New Line Cinema returned the film rights to Marvel. Screenplay drafts had been written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and David Hayter, but they were not retained. New Line's script pitted Iron Man against his father Howard Stark, who becomes War Machine.[40] In November 2005, Marvel Studios worked to start development from scratch,[41] and announced it as their first independent feature, as Iron Man was their only major character not depicted in live action.[6]

In April 2006, Jon Favreau was hired as the film's director, with Arthur Marcum and Matt Holloway writing the script.[42] Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby worked separately, with Favreau compiling both team's scripts,[43] and the script received a polish by John August.[44] Comic book staff Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort, Axel Alonso, and Ralph Macchio were also summoned by Favreau to give advice on the script.[45]

Favreau had wanted to work with Marvel producer Avi Arad on another film after the Daredevil adaptation.[6] Favreau celebrated getting the job by going on a diet, and lost seventy pounds.[9] The director found the opportunity to create a politically ambitious "ultimate spy movie" in Iron Man, citing inspiration from Tom Clancy, James Bond, and RoboCop.[46] Favreau also described his approach as similar to an independent film, "[i]f Robert Altman had directed Superman",[6] and also cited Batman Begins as an inspiration.[47] He wanted to make Iron Man a story of an adult man literally reinventing himself, and realizing the world is far more complex than he believes.[48] Favreau changed the Vietnam War origin of the character to Afghanistan, as he did not want to do a period piece.[10]

Choosing a villain was difficult, because Favreau felt Iron Man's archnemesis, the Mandarin, would not feel realistic, especially after Mark Millar gave his opinion on the script.[45] He felt only in a sequel, with an altered tone, would the fantasy of the Mandarin's rings be appropriate.[49] The decision to push him into the background is comparable to Sauron in The Lord of the Rings,[47] or Palpatine in Star Wars.[49] Favreau also wanted Iron Man to face a giant enemy. The switch from Mandarin to Obadiah Stane was done after Bridges was cast.[26] Stane was intended to become a villain in the sequel.[45] The Crimson Dynamo was also a villain in early drafts in the script.[7] Favreau felt it was important to include intentional inside references for fans of the comics, such as giving the two fighter jets that attack Iron Man the call signs of "Whiplash 1" and "Whiplash 2," a reference to the comic book villain Whiplash, and including Captain America's shield in Stark's workshop.[50]

The post-closing-credits sequence that introduces Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, was written by comics writer Brian Michael Bendis.[51]


Production was based in the former Hughes Company soundstages in Playa Vista, Los Angeles, California.[52] Favreau rejected the East Coast setting of the comic books because many superhero films had already been set there.[10] Howard Hughes was one of the inspirations for the comic book, and the filmmakers acknowledged the coincidence that they would film Iron Man creating the flying Mark III where the Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" was built.[14]

Filming began on March 12, 2007,[53] with the first few weeks spent on Stark's captivity in Afghanistan.[54] The cave where Stark is imprisoned was a 150- to 200-yard (150–200 m) long set, which had movable forks in the caverns to allow greater freedom for the film's crew.[10] Production designer J. Michael Riva saw footage of a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan, and saw the cold breath as he spoke: realizing remote caves are actually very cold, Riva placed an air conditioning system in the set. He also sought Downey's advice about makeshift objects in prison, such as a sock being used to make tea.[14] Afterwards, Stark's capture was filmed at Lone Pine, and other exterior scenes in Afghanistan were filmed at Olancha Sand Dunes, where the crew endured two days of 40 to 60 mile an hour (60 to 100 km/h) winds.[14]

Filming at Edwards Air Force Base began in mid-April,[55] and wrapped on May 2.[56] Exterior shots of Stark's home were digitally composited on footage of Point Dume in Malibu,[26] while the interior was built at Playa Vista, where Favreau and Riva aimed to make Stark's home look less futuristic and more "grease monkey".[14] Filming concluded on June 25, 2007 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.[57] Favreau, a newcomer to action films, remarked, "I'm shocked that I [was] on schedule. I thought that there were going to be many curveballs". He hired "people who are good at creating action", so "the human story [felt] like it belongs to the comic book genre".[9]

There was much improvisation in dialogue scenes, because the script was not completed when filming began (the filmmakers had focused on the story making sense and planning the action). Favreau acknowledged that improvisation would make the film feel more natural. Some scenes were shot with two cameras to capture lines said on the spot. Multiple takes were done, as Downey wanted to try something new each time.[26] It was Downey's idea to have Stark hold a news conference on the floor,[9] and he created the speech Stark makes when demonstrating the Jericho weapon.[5]

Brian Michael Bendis wrote three pages of dialogue for the Nick Fury cameo scene, with the filmmakers choosing the best lines for filming.[45] The cameo was filmed with a skeleton crew in order to keep it a secret, but rumors appeared on the Internet only days later. Marvel Studios's Kevin Feige subsequently ordered the scene removed from all preview prints in order to maintain the surprise and keep fans guessing.[58]


A scale model of the "Iron Monger" suit

Favreau wanted the film to be believable by showing the construction of the suit in its three stages.[10] Stan Winston, a fan of the comic book, and his company built metal and rubber versions of the armors. They had previously worked on Favreau's Zathura.[14] Favreau's main concern with the effects was whether the transition between the computer-generated and practical costumes would be too obvious.[59] Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) was hired to create the bulk of the visual effects with additional work being completed by The Orphanage and The Embassy; Favreau trusted ILM after seeing Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Transformers.[14]

The Mark I design was intended to look like it was built from spare parts: particularly, the back is less armored than the front, as Stark would use his resources to make a forward attack. It also foreshadows the design of Stane's armor. A single 90-pound (41 kg) version was built, causing concern when a stuntman fell over inside it. Both the stuntman and the suit were unscathed. The armor was also designed to only have its top half worn at times.[14] The Embassy created a digital version of the Mark I.[60] Stan Winston Studios built a 10-foot (3.0 m), 800-pound (360 kg) animatronic version of the comic character "Iron Monger" (Obadiah Stane),[14] a name which Obadiah Stane calls Tony Stark and himself earlier in the film, but is never actually used for the suit itself. The animatronic required five operators for the arm, and was built on a gimbal to simulate walking.[14] A scale model was used for the shots of it being built.[26]

The Mark II resembles an airplane prototype, with visible flaps.[26] Iron Man comic book artist Adi Granov designed the Mark III with illustrator Phil Saunders.[61] Granov's designs were the primary inspiration for the film's design, and he came on board the film after he recognized his work on Jon Favreau's MySpace page.[47] Saunders streamlined Granov's concept art, making it stealthier and less cartoonish in its proportions.[14] Sometimes, Downey would only wear the helmet, sleeves and chest of the costume over a motion capture suit.[14] For shots of the Mark III flying, it was animated to look realistic by taking off slowly, and landing quickly. To generate shots of Iron Man and the F-22 Raptors battling, cameras were flown in the air to provide reference for physics, wind and frost on the lenses.[62] For further study of the physics of flying, skydivers were filmed in a vertical wind tunnel.[63]

Phil Saunders created concept art for the War Machine armor and said that it was originally intended to be used in the film but was "cut from the script about halfway through pre-production." Saunders said that the War Machine armor "was going to be called the Mark IV armor and would have been weaponized swap-out parts that would be worn over the original Mark III armor," and that it "would have been worn by Tony Stark in the final battle sequence."[64]


Composer Ramin Djawadi is an Iron Man fan, and still has issues of the comic from the late 1970s. Through his older brother, Amir, he is also into heavy metal music since the early 1990s. While he normally composes after watching an assembly cut, Djawadi began work after seeing the teaser trailer. Favreau clearly envisioned a focus on "heavy" guitar in the score, and Djawadi composed the music on that instrument before arranging it for orchestra. The composer said Downey's performance inspired the several Iron Man themes (for his different moods), as well as Stark's playboy leitmotif. Djawadi's favorite of the Iron Man themes is the "kickass" because of its "rhythmic pattern that is a hook on its own. Very much like a machine." The other themes are "not so much character based, but rather plot based that carry you through the movie".[65] Guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, who has a brief cameo in the film as a guard, contributed additional guitar work to the movie's soundtrack.


Downey promoting the film in Mexico City

The premiere was held at the Greater Union theater at George Street, Sydney, on April 14, 2008.[66] The film was released worldwide except for Japan between April 30 and May 7, 2008, with Japan to receive the film in September 2008.[67]


Marvel and Paramount modeled their marketing campaign for Iron Man on that of Transformers.[68] Sega released a video game based on the film, which included other iterations of the character.[69] A 30-second spot for the film aired during a Super Bowl XLII break.[70] 6,400 7-Eleven stores in the United States helped promote the film, and LG Group also made a deal with Paramount.[68] Hasbro created figures of armors from the film, as well as Titanium Man (who appears in the video game) and the armor from the World War Hulk comics.[71]

Worldwide, Burger King and Audi promoted the film. Jon Favreau was set to direct a commercial for the fast-food chain, as Michael Bay did for Transformers.[68] In the film, Tony Stark drives an Audi R8, and also has an "American cheeseburger" from Burger King after his rescue from Afghanistan, as part of the studio's product placement deal with the respective companies. Three other vehicles, the Audi S6 sedan, Audi S5 sports coupe and the Audi Q7 SUV, also appear in the film.[72] Audi created a tie-in website, as General Motors did for Transformers.[68] Oracle Corporation also promoted the film on its site.[73] Estimates for the cost of marketing Iron Man ranged from US$50 to $75 million.[74]

Critical reception

Iron Man received critical acclaim. On May 1, 2008, the film was identified as the "best-reviewed film of the year so far" by Jen Yamato of review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with the site reporting at that time the film had received a rating of 95% based on 107 reviews and this rating has held its place as of January 2010.[2][75] The film currently holds a score of 94% based on 235 reviews,[76] with selected top critics giving it a score of 93% based on 39 reviews.[77] Metacritic gave the film normalized average score of 79%, based on 38 reviews.[78]

Among the major trade journals, Todd McCarthy in Variety called the film an "expansively entertaining special effects extravaganza" with "fresh energy and stylistic polish",[79] while Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter praised the film while nonetheless finding "disappointment [in] a climatic [sic] battle between different Iron Man prototypes [...] how did Tony's nemesis learn how to use the suit?"[80] In one of the first major-daily newspaper reviews, Frank Lovece of Newsday lauded the film's "emotional truth [...] pitch-perfect casting and plausibly rendered super-science" that made it "faithful to the source material while updating it – and recognizing what's made that material so enduring isn't just the high-tech cool of a man in a metal suit, but the human condition that got him there".[81] A. O. Scott of The New York Times called the film "an unusually good superhero picture. Or at least – since it certainly has its problems – a superhero movie that's good in unusual ways."[82]

Among the specialty press, Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons commended the "impressive sets and mechanics that combine smoothly with relatively seamless CG", and said, "Robert Downey Jr., along with director Jon Favreau [...] help this rise above formula. The result is something that, whilst hardly original or groundbreaking, is nevertheless refreshing in its earnestness to avoid dark dramatic stylings in favor of an easy-going, crowd-pleasing action movie with a sprinkle of anti-war and redemption themes".[83] IGN's Todd Gilchrist recognized Downey as "the best thing" in a film that "functions on autopilot, providing requisite story developments and character details to fill in this default 'origin story' while the actors successfully breathe life into their otherwise conventional roles".[84]

Among major metropolitan weeklies, David Edelstein of New York magazine called the film "a shapely piece of mythmaking [...] Favreau doesn't go in for stylized comic-book frames, at least in the first half. He gets real with it – you'd think you were watching a military thriller",[85] while conversely, David Denby of The New Yorker put forth a negative review, claiming "a slightly depressed, going-through-the-motions feel to the entire show [...] Gwyneth Paltrow, widening her eyes and palpitating, can't do much with an antique role as Stark's girl Friday, who loves him but can't say so; Terrence Howard, playing a military man who chases around after Stark, looks dispirited and taken for granted".[86] Looking at the sociocultural aspects of the film, Cristobal Giraldez Catalan at Bright Lights Film Journal argues that, "Iron Man is far more than playboy fantasy; it is American foreign policy realized without context....Iron Man, with narrative and directorial precision, once again provides the high-fidelity misogyny and anti-Muslim rhetoric Hollywood is known for."[87]

Roger Ebert and Richard Corliss named Iron Man as among their favorite films of 2008.[88][89]

Box office

In its opening weekend, Iron Man grossed $98,618,668 in 4,105 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking number one at the box office,[90] giving it the 11th-biggest opening weekend,[91] ninth widest release in terms of theaters,[92] and the third highest-grossing opening weekend of 2008 behind Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Dark Knight. It grossed $35.2 million on its first day, giving it the 13th-biggest opening day.[93] Iron Man had the second-best premiere for a non-sequel, behind Spider-Man. It had the fourth-biggest opening for a superhero movie.[94] Iron Man was also the number-one film in the United States and Canada in its second weekend, grossing $51.1 million,[90] giving it the 12th-best second weekend and the fifth-best for a non-sequel.[95] On June 18, 2008 Iron Man became the first movie of 2008 to pass the $300 million mark for the domestic box office.[96][97] As of July 2009, Iron Man has grossed $585,174,222 worldwide, $318,412,101 in the United States and Canada and $266,762,121 in other territories.[1]

Home media

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on September 30, 2008, in North America and October 27, 2008 in Europe.[98] DVD sales were very successful, selling over 4 million copies the first week and generating a gross over $93 million USD.[99][100] There were a total of 9 million copies sold and an accumulated total sales of over $160 million (not including Blu-ray).[99]

For the home releases of the film, the image on the newspaper Stark reads before he announces he is Iron Man had to be altered because of amateur photographer Ronnie Adams filing a lawsuit against Paramount and Marvel for using his on-location spy photo in the scene.[101]

A Wal-Mart-exclusive release included a preview of Iron Man: Armored Adventures.[102]


Iron Man was selected by the American Film Institute as one of the ten best films of the year.[103] The film was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing at the 81st Academy Awards, but lost to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Dark Knight, respectively.[104][105] It was nominated for nine Saturn Awards,[106] winning Best Science Fiction Film, Best Director for Favreau and Best Actor for Downey.[107] In 2008, Iron Man was selected by Empire magazine as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.[108] Tony Stark was also selected as one of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.[109] On their list of the 100 Greatest Fictional Characters, ranked Iron Man at number 37.[110]

It was nominated for Favorite Movie at the 2009 Kids' Choice Awards but lost to High School Musical 3: Senior Year.[111][112]


The sequel, Iron Man 2, was released in the United States on May 7, 2010 with Jon Favreau and Robert Downey, Jr. returning as director and lead, respectively, with a screenplay by Justin Theroux. Don Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard in the role of Colonel Rhodes, who is also seen as War Machine. Also starring is Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts; Mickey Rourke as Whiplash, a villain with technologically enhanced whips; Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer; a business rival of Stark's.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said he is happy with the results of Iron Man 2 and stated that Iron Man 3 will be in theaters by 2013. "We do have a contract with Robert Downey, Jr. to do it, and it will come after The Avengers", Feige said.[113] Jon Favreau said that although the character may need reworking, the Mandarin would be in the third film. The director said, "The problem with the Mandarin is that the way it's depicted in the comic books, you don't want to see that. He has 10 magical rings – that just doesn't feel right for our [franchise]. So it's either tech-based, or the rings are not really rings."[114]

After the release of Iron Man 2, a conflict between Paramount Pictures, which has distribution rights to certain Marvel properties, and The Walt Disney Company, Marvel Comics' corporate parent, clouded the timing and the distribution arrangement of a possible third film.[115] Paramount and Disney have since reached an agreement where Disney will get the worldwide distribution and marketing rights from Paramount for Iron Man 3 as well as The Avengers. Iron Man 3 is due for release on May 3, 2013.[116]


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