Cocky, charming, rich, bruised and, oh yes, who can forget the iron. The ladies may love industrialist Tony Stark’s second and third listed attributes, but it’s the suit made of iron he disguises himself in that has attracted over forty years’ worth of “Iron Man” readers. And, boy, what a helluva trip they’ve been taken on. Since Stark’s introduction as Iron Man in the pages of “Tales of Suspense” in 1963 he has undergone armor changes, overcome a pesky heart condition and sundry enemies and, most recently, become a key player in an epic “Civil War” which left Captain America dead. Ouch. Still, at the center of Iron Man’s firepower and strength – like so many of the Stan Lee-created characters – there beats a sense of pathos. Stark’s soul is flawed, battling various personal demons. And it’s these complexities that make him a primo candidate for a big screen adventure.
As with so many comic book properties, an “Iron Man” feature film has been talked about for years; speculation on top of rumors on top of false attachments from big stars. This all came to a head in 2006 when Marvel Entertainment and Paramount announced they were uniting for a big budget Iron Man summer movie spectacle. Director Jon Favreau (Zathura) and the writing team of Arthur Marcum, Matt Holloway, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby faced the daunting and enviable task of sifting through decades of mythology and distilling it into a workable narrative. More importantly, they had to make it appealing to a wide audience.
In a brilliant stroke of inspired casting that got the fans talking, Favreau found all of the required qualities of Stark in Robert Downey Jr., the titular hero, a billionaire inventor kidnapped for his brilliance and forced to conceive a nefarious weapon. Wounded and driven to escape his captors, Stark builds an iron suit which will evolve as he comes to use it to fight evil. Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Leslie Bibb, Nazanin Boniadi, Shaun Toub, Terrence Howard and Bill Smitrovich co-star in roles true to the source material such as Virginia “Pepper” Potts, Obadiah Stane, et al.
Rather than jump into the midst of the action, Favreau has opted to tell an origin story, a Joseph Campbell-like journey focusing on Stark’s rise as Iron Man. Audiences will witness the birth of the Mark 1 suit and the now-familiar yellow ‘n red guise. How Favreau intends to pull it all off is guarded in secrecy on a level unlike anything this writer has ever seen. ComingSoon.net/Superhero Hype! was smacked with the heavy hand of confidentiality while visiting the set of Iron Man earlier this summer, however, we can say now the sights, particularly the sets located within a massive hangar once utilized by Howard Hughes himself (a figure who served as inspiration for the Stark character) were cavernous and magnificent.
Save for a devastated room said to be located beneath Stark Industries, little of what we saw prepared us for the action-packed preview Favreau revealed at Comic-Con which featured Iron Man punching, flying and taking a bullet to the head. But what we did see firmed up our image of Stark himself, so keep it here in the coming months as we roll out a proper set visit along with interviews with Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Favreau and Marvel’s Kevin Feige.
Iron Man flies into theaters on May 2, 2008 to kick your expectations where it hurts with a big metal boot.
Source: Ryan Rotten