Release date (US): 2nd May 2008
Director: Jon Favreau
Screenwriters: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Studio logos. Paramount were the distributor. Marvel would not be bought out by Disney until 2010.
Then the Marvel logos.
Then we open Afghanistan. It’s actually the Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California. [link]
The armoured vehicles are Humvees. In particular, AM General HMMWV M1025.
As the Humvees arrive, we hear Back In Black by AC/DC. Taken from their 1980 album Back In Black, this would lead to a much closer collaboration with AC/DC in Iron Man 2 (2010).
At the time, the US was waging war in Afghanistan.
Subtitles tells us it’s the Kunar province in Afghanistan. It’s one of 34 provinces that make up Afghanistan. There was some suspicion that Osama Bin Laden was hiding in this province (he wasn’t, he was found elsewhere in 2011). [link]
In the comics, Iron Man‘s origin was involved in wars. In his first story in 1963, it was Vietnam. His origin has been updated to the Gulf War, and now Afghanistan.
Here he is, holding a whiskey, Tony Stark. Played by Robert Downey Jr.
Tony Stark is, of course, Iron Man. Or he will become Iron Man in just a bit. He was created by Don Heck, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Larry Lieber. He first appeared in Tales Of Suspense #39, published in March 1963.
Downey was not necessarily an easy casting choice. He was coming off a period of very public drug abuse (he was hired to star in Woody Allen‘s 2004 film Melinda And Melinda, but he was too much of a risk and unable to secure the insurance). But Downey really wanted to play the role, and was even willing to screen test for it. Downey told The New York Times:
The people who made this movie said they were going to screen-test some people, and I thought: ‘Well, that’s how I got “Chaplin.” Maybe this will work again. If you’re going to spend a hundred million bucks on a movie, why not see who works?
Kevin Feige told NY Times:
That an actor of his caliber and talent was willing to submit to a screen test spoke volumes about his enthusiasm, and his past was not a huge issue. The fact that Disney had already cast him in ‘The Shaggy Dog’ suggested that he was more than ready to do another family-oriented film.”
Jon Favreau told cinemablend:
Everybody knew he was talented… Certainly by studying the Iron Man role and developing that script I realized that the character seemed to line-up with Robert in all the good and bad ways. And the story of Iron Man was really the story of Robert’s career.
Others considered for the role include Hugh Jackman, Timothy Olyphant, Clive Owen and Sam Rockwell (who would appear in Iron Man 2).
The soldiers in the Humvee are:
The young one to Stark’s left is Jimmy. He is played by Kevin Foster. Foster is better known as a stuntman, in films such as X-Men: First Class.
In front of Stark is Pratt. He is played by Garret Noël.
Finally Ramirez, driving. She is played by Eileen Weisinger. She is also better known for her stunt work, and would return in that capacity for Iron Man 2.
Stark calls one of the soldiers ‘Forrest’, in reference to the title character in Forrest Gump, who was a soldier for a lot of the film/book.
Maxim is an international men’s magazine, originating in the UK and founded in 1995.
Stark says he missed out on the cover girl for March. Assuming it’s 2007, that would have been singer Christina Aguilera.
MySpace – the world’s most popular social network, in 2007. In 2008, Facebook overtook it traffic wise, and it has never recovered.
Then the convoy is attacked. The three soldiers in car with Stark are killed.
The rest of the convoy, we assume, are also killed, although we don’t see it.
Stark finds cover, and pulls out his phone. It’s an LG VX9400. It had that flip screen.
Then the bomb. It has Stark Industries on the side of it. Hoist by one’s own petard.
There was an extended version of this ambush scene that was deleted.
Stark is captured. He’s been taken to a cave. It’s a 150-200 yard set, that was specially air-conditioned to match how cold it would be in a real cave.
The cave set was built at the Playa Vista Stages, the principal soundstages used for the production, and where the production office was kept. It’s located at 5865 Campus Center Dr, Los Angeles.
The soundstages have a rich history, and was the place Howard Hughes made some of his planes, including the legendary Spruce Goose. Hughes was an inspiration for Tony Stark.
We see some of the enemy soldiers, who we will meet later.
Although it seems like they are making some sort of terrorist demands in their native language (Urdu), they are in fact talking to Obadiah Stane. Urdu speakers would have had the film spoiled to them before they even see…
We move to Las Vegas, 36 hours earlier. It’s Caesar’s Palace, 3570 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, Nevada. One of the more famous and glamorous hotels and casinos on that fabled strip. [link]
The Apogee Awards are real.
We go through Stark’s life through a presentation.
The music of the presentation is Damn Kid, by DJ Boborobo.
The presentation’s narrator is Will Lyman.
He’s on the cover of WIRED magazine (Jan 2008 apparently).
And then a real photo of a young Downey.
Then a photo of the first Howard Stark, Tony Stark’s father. he’s played by Gerard Sanders in his most significant role. He is the first of three actors to portray Howard Stark.
In the ballroom, watching the presentation, Obadiah Stane for the first time. He is played by Jeff Bridges.
Obadiah Stane, who will become the Iron Monger, first appeared in the comic Iron Man #163 (October 1982). Here, he is an employee of Stark Industries, but in the comics he’s the head of his own company – Stane International. He was created by Dennis O’Neil and Luke McDonnell. The Iron Monger suit would debut years later in Iron Man #200 (November 1985).
Bridges has made a career of keeping audiences guessing, one that has stretched over half a century. He’s starred in sci-fi films such as Tron (1982) and Starman (1984), to acclaimed performances for The Coen Brothers such as The Big Lebowski (1998) and True Grit (2010), and low budget dramas such as Crazy Heart (2009).
Bridges told Oregon Live:
The fact that Robert and Jon (director Jon Favreau) were involved is kinda what made me turn the corner on this type of film. Because I knew that it would be fun creatively, and I knew that their take would not be typical, and that made it seem like something I’d want to get involved with. I thought if they could bring their sensibilities to this kind of film, you were gonna get something that would be really good and really different. And also the fact that it was a big kind of blockbuster thing — I don’t do those often. So it fits that scenario I have of mixing it up.
Then a photoshopped old image of young Stark with Microsoft founder Bill Gates, surrounded by computers.
The cover of Popular Mechanics. Stark is 6, so assuming Iron Man and Downey are the same age, this issue is from 1971 or so.
The cover of MIT Technology Review. It is published by MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Stark went to university there, and graduated at 17, placing this issue at 1982 or so. Throughout the film, he wears an MIT ring.
Then the front page of The Washington Times.
It’s the 17th December 1991 issue. We also learn his wife is named Maria and they both died in a car accident. We will see that incident in Captain America: Civil War (2016).
Young Howard Stark and young Obadiah Stane.
There is sign behind them that suggests they were working on some sort of supersonic flight program. Yet, the sign also mentions 1997.
Then Stane is on the cover of Newsweek.
Then Stane and Stark together is on the cover of Forbes. 21 years old would make this 1986 if Iron Man and the same age as Downey. So the date logic falls apart here.
[redditor Bethorz points put the birthdate of MCU Tony Stark is 29th May 1970, which seems to have originated from SHIELD files on the Avengers DVD. Which makes Stark 21 when his father dies, but also 21 when he takes over Stark Industries. We’ll keep pulling on this thread as we make our way through the films]
One more magazine – Rolling Stone.
Here’s James Rhodes. Played by Terrence Howard.
Rhodes will become the hero known as War Machine, and will play a big part in the Avengers, in both the comics and the films. He first appeared Iron Man #118 (January 1979) by David Michelinie, John Byrne, and Bob Layton.
Howard was a pretty big star when he appeared in this film, coming off acclaimed performances in Crash (2004) and Hustle & Flow (2005).
Howard the Independent:
I did that movie for one reason. So that I could watch and study Robert Downey Jr, who I think is the most gifted living actor next to Sean Penn on this planet. I learnt so much about just remaining true to the truth.
He says he is the military liaison to Stark Industries. This is different from the comics, where Stark and Howard met on a mission. But at least the film version he was still in the military and gifted pilot.
Stane accepts the award on Stark’s behalf. He calls Rhodes by his rank, showing us that he’s a colonel.
Then we are at the craps table of Caesar’s Palace.
Behind Stark is Happy Hogan, Stark’s chauffeur and personal assistant. He’s played by Jon Favreau, who is also the film’s director.
Hogan was created by Don Heck and Stan Lee. He first appeared in Tales of Suspense #45 (September 1963). In the comics he was a former boxer.
Favreau had met the Marvel team, and producer Avi Arad, on the set of Daredevil (2003), where he played Foggy Nelson. There had been discussions about directing a Marvel film, including Captain America. In the end, Favreau opted for Iron Man, and helped set the tone for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. On the approach to the film side, Favreau told Time Out London:
‘Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” set the bar very high for the superhero movie, as it showed that you could get a great cast for these movies and take a real filmmaker’s perspective. There were some other superhero movies, the titles of which I don’t want to mention, that were making a lot of money and which I thought were trash. I didn’t want to end up making one of those types of movies, I wanted to make a movie like Christopher’s.’
On his appearance as Hogan, he told Superherohype:
As an actor, I’m in there because it’s probably me being selfish and wanting to be an actor in it, and know that Happy Hogan has more to do later (laughter) and I get to have a few scenes with Gwyneth later, but she doesn’t know that.
Favreau will go onto to play a significant role in the MCU, appearing in several more films, directing Iron Man 2, and as a producer in all the Avengers films.
Before Favreau, Len Wiseman was in the running as director.
The music playing is a big band version of the Iron Man cartoon theme, composed by the film’s composer Ramin Djawadi. This was Djawdi’s only score for Marvel, and he would go on to score huge blockbusters such Pacific Rim and the Game Of Thrones TV series.
The Iron Man cartoon was part of The Marvel Super Heroes, broadcast in 1966.
Amongst the crowd at the crap’s table is Laura Scyphers, who was Miss Nevada at the time, and actress Stacy Stas.
There was an extended version of the casino scene, including Stark losing $3 million.
Outside Caesar’s, Stark (and crew) and confronted by Christine Everhart, played by Leslie Bibb.
In the comics, Everhart is a reporter for the Daily Bugle, but here she works for Vanity Fair. She first appeared in Iron Man vol. 3 #75, in 2004.
Bibb previously appeared in films such as Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby (2006). She would return for Iron Man 2.
In case you missed it, Hogan whispers to Stark that Everhart is cute before he turns to talk to her.
Everhart mentions Leonardo Da Vinci. He was a renaissance-era Italian painter, but he was also an inventor.
They discuss two particularly liberal universities – Berkeley in California and Brown in Rhode Island.
Stark mentions his father was part of The Manhattan Project. This was the secret project that led to the development of the first nuclear weapons during World War II.
Stark and Everhart go to bed. We hear more of that Iron Man cartoon theme.
Everhart is later woken by a voice. It’s Stark’s computer JARVIS, voiced by Paul Bettany.
The computer JARVIS was invented for the film – and it stands for Just A Rather Very Intelligent System. In the comics, the Avenger’s butler is Edwin Jarvis, and a key character in the Avenger’s history. This computer version of JARVIS will play a big role in the films to come.
Bettany accepted the role as a favour, having worked with Favreau on Wimbledon. He told SuperheroHype:
I really didn’t know what I was going in for because it was two hours in a recording booth. I went in and recorded with Jon Favreau, doing all the lines, recording them and went home and now I’m a fucking hero to my children.
JARVIS tells us the house is in Malibu. It’s actually called The Razor House, located in La Jolla, California. [link]
We zoom out and we are in Malibu, with Stark’s mansion a CGI placed on Point Dume, looking over Malibu beach. [link]
It was Favreau’s decision to move Iron Man, traditionally a New York superhero, to the West Coast. According to Favreau in the production notes:
I wanted a different look, so instead of having Iron Man flying between New York City buildings, we have the ocean and mountains of the West Coast in the film. I also felt shooting in Los Angeles tied in with the roots of the whole Howard Hughes influence and the history-of-flight aspect.
Everhart walks around the house. We can’t pick the painting, but the guitars are a Fender Telecaster and a Gibson 335.
Next to the guitars is an Eames Lounge Chair. A classic.
6 thoughts on “Iron Man (2008) – Complete Annotations”
Awesome stuff. Looking forward to your future installments.
I learned so much about an all-time favorite movie I’ve seen at least a dozen times. Thank you!
In the section 20:00 to 25:00, you stated that The Mandarin will appear in Iron Man 2. He appeared in Iron Man 3.
Good catch. Will fix.
Amazing stuff, thanks for all the effort you’ve put into this. Just thought I would help with a few music cues;
The music playing during the entertainment news piece with Zorianna Kit is ‘Groovetronic’ by Terry Devine-King.
The jazz playing during the first scene in the Walt Disney Exhibition Hall (when Tony dances with Pepper) is ‘Kool Katz’ by Chucho Merchán, and playing when he speaks to Christine is ‘Licorice’ by Emanuel Kallins and Steve Skinner.
Thanks for this. Will update when I get the chance!