Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in "Iron Man." (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel)Link
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) takes flight in "Iron Man." (The Orphanage / Marvel)Link
Billionaire industrialist Tony Stark is Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in "Iron Man." (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel)Link
Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) examines the Iron Monger suit in "Iron Man." (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel)Link
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts in "Iron Man." (Industrial Light & Magic / Marvel)Link
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) works on his Iron Man suit in "Iron Man." (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel)Link
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in "Iron Man." (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel)Link
With “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” hitting U.S. theaters tonight, this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday revisits “Iron Man,” the film that kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Released seven years ago this weekend, on May 2, 2008, “Iron Man” followed the success of Sony’s “Spider-Man” and Fox’s “X-Men.”
“Iron Man” opened to positive reviews, and ticket sales skyrocketed. The film earned $102 million during opening weekend and eventually grossed $585 million at the international box office. Comic book fans and critics praised Robert Downey Jr.’s cocky performance as billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark, validating what had been seen as a questionable casting decision.
“There were people in our company who directly said, ‘No. You can’t [cast Downey]. Next,” Marvel Studios President and producer Kevin Feige told The Times shortly before the film’s release.
But Feige and director Jon Favreau persisted, convincing the studio that Downey was the right actor to bring the red-and-gold superhero to the big screen. Downey did a screen test and soon after suited up, but not before some adjustments were made to the suit itself.
Iron Man’s Mark III suit had already been created by the time Downey was cast, so creature effects supervisor Shane Mahan and his team retrofitted the costume to fit the actor.
“In the end, I think that made it better. If you do it the traditional way where you get a person and you do a life cast or a scan and build directly on top of it, you get a certain look,” Mahan told The Times. “This was building the machine, and then finding a way to fit the actor inside of it properly.”
The suits were also harder to wear than spandex and capes.
“For the most part, it’s hard shells,” Mahan said. “You’re squeezing guys in, because it’s not a rubber suit like Batman. Iron Man has to replicate what should be about 600 or 700 pounds of steel suit.”
The hard shell proved no obstacle for Downey and his stuntmen, and the role catapulted his career to a new level of stardom.
However, not everyone was impressed with the comic book adaptation. Times film critic Kenneth Turan praised Downey’s “energetic, engaging performance” and “unbeatable charisma” but thought the film lacked “dramatic unity.”
“The movie is an alloy, a combination of several different and disconnected components that don’t manage to unite to make a coherent whole,” Turan wrote in his review.
Nevertheless, the film secured the financial backing and cultural status necessary for the fledgling Marvel Studios to expand its cinematic universe. Ten Marvel films later, Iron Man is still flying high.
— Denise Florez | @LATHeroComplex