Not one of the most popular comic books out there, this was a harder sell to the studios, hence this didn’t hit cinemas until 2008. Director, Jon Favreau, had a tough time fighting the corner for Robert Downey Junior who he felt had polarities with the character of Tony Stark. In fact, Hugh Jackman was offered the role of Tony Stark, but he turned it down because he was Wolverine in the X-Men franchise. Thank goodness Jon Favreau saw what the studio couldn’t and the fans loved Iron Man.
Billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. This line is actually from Avengers Assemble, uttered by Tony Stark, but it sums him up, or at least his public persona. Only an actor of Robert Downey Junior’s calibre could stop Tony Stark from being a joke, or an utter asshole. Don’t get me wrong, Tony is an arrogant playboy, but RDJ gives him a vulnerability and he is so damn likeable! In Favreau’s words, Tony Stark is “a likeable asshole”.
Stark Industries, set up by Tony’s inventor father, Howard Stark, creates weapons of mass destruction. When Tony’s involvement in the arms industry bites him back, in a life-threatening way, Iron Man is created out of the need to survive. Tony up to this point had only really been a figurehead, enjoying the benefits of the money the company makes, whilst Obadiah Stane, a father figure to Tony (played by Jeff Bridges) had been running the show.
Gwyneth Paltrow plays Stark’s PA, Pepper Potts. The only person who realises the cocky persona is an act at times. The chemistry between RDJ and Gwyneth is pretty good and Pepper is also a likeable character. Pepper is definitely more than a pretty face and Tony needs her more than he realises.
Pepper: [after Stark’s one night stand with reporter, Christine] I have your clothes here; they’ve been dry cleaned and pressed. And there’s a car waiting for you outside that will take you anywhere you’d like to go.
Christine: You must be the famous Pepper Potts.
Pepper: [smiles and nods] Indeed I am.
Christine: After all these years, Tony still has you picking up the dry cleaning.
Pepper: I do anything and everything Mr. Stark requires. Including occasionally taking out the trash. Will that be all?
Pepper discovers, with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Phil Coulson, that an insider is selling Stark Industries weapons to terrorists. The film thus cleverly introducing S.H.I.E.L.D and the Avengers Initiative.
If you want a fun, fast-paced action movie with likeable leads, witty dialogue and no coloured spandex (although I personally am a fan of Spiderman and X-Men too), this is the superhero film to watch……and did I mention, Robert Downey Junior is in it?
The creator of Iron Man, Stan Lee, based Tony Stark on Howard Hughes
RDJ trained with weights 5 days a week and practiced martial arts in preparation for the role
Gwyneth based Pepper on heroines of the 1940’s who she said were often witty and sexy
A lot of adlibbing was done by RDJ because Jon Favreau wanted a more natural feel. This clearly worked well for the film and RDJ is particularly good at this, however, Gwyneth (allegedly) struggled with this approach