MarvelVision: Phase One – Iron Man
We’re heading back to 2008 on this week’s MCU podcast to revisit Iron Man, the movie that started it all. From trivia and Easter eggs you might not have known, to looking back on what does – and doesn’t – work about the groundbreaking movie, we’re covering it all. Plus, we take a look at what might be next for Robert Downey Jr. in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Ironheart, Armor Wars, and… #BringBackTonyStarkToLife?
SUBSCRIBE TO MARVELVISION ON ITUNES, ANDROID, SPOTIFY, STITCHER, OR RSS. FOLLOW US ON TWITTER, INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK. SUPPORT OUR SHOWS ON PATREON.
Full Episode Transcript
Alex: Welcome to MarvelVision, a podcast about the MCU. And right now, phase one, Iron Man.
Justin: Let’s kick it off.
Alex: I’m Alex.
Justin: I’m Justin.
Pete: I’m Pete.
Alex: And in the break between The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki, we are going to be revisiting phase one of MCU movies, kicking it off with the one that started it little, Iron Man. There you go. Iron Man from May 2nd, 2008, you probably all know this, but directed by Jon Favreau, written by-
Pete: That’s right.
Alex: You know these names, of course, as well, Pete: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby-
Justin: The Fergie!
Alex: … Art Marcum-
Alex: … and Matt Holloway.
Pete: The four writers.
Justin: Ah, Holloway.
Pete: I mean, you see Holloway’s prints all over this thing.
Alex: Yeah, you’d say, “All the way, Holloway,” is what you’d normally say.
Pete: Oh, yeah.
Alex: Now, normally what we’ve been doing on this podcast is we’ve been talking about the currently running MCU, Disney Plus shows. This, obviously, is going back. We revisited the movie. Some of us watched it again to get a more current view of it, but I figure what we could do is talk about what it’s like watching the movie now, thinking about the movie now, just in retrospect now that we’re-
Pete: Bringing you back.
Justin: Oh, yeah.
Pete: … a quarter of a century movies and TV shows in here,
Justin: Oh, man! I haven’t changed a bit since this came out. My life’s the same.
Alex: And then, at the end of the podcast, we’re going to talk about some of the future of Iron Man in the MC. But first of all, Justin, you re-watched the movie. What was your take on it now, watching it at this point 13 years later, I guess?
Justin: Yeah, 13, a lot of years. There’s some stuff that feels a little dated, which I’m sure we’ll talk about. But in general, it’s like, “Oh, wow! This movie was pretty risky,” it felt like. They really make Tony Stark a jerk at the beginning of this movie in the way that most superhero movies don’t really do. He is a bad guy, but there’s a real way this could have gone where he’s the villain. He’s like Stane, maybe not as bad as him, but very much in line with his way of thinking, and I love that about this. Just the other thing is I don’t know if this would have all happened if not for Robert Downey Jr. He’s unbelievable in this movie.
Alex: Yes. There were a couple of interesting things that I found when I was researching after watching again, which is little [inaudible 00:02:29]. This movie is good. It’s a good movie. It’s a fun movie. Like you’re saying, there’s some things that don’t necessarily hold up, but of course, there are always things that aren’t necessarily going to hold up over a decade later with any movie.
Alex: But the things that I was surprised to find out … I think everybody knows that Robert Downey Jr. was not in a great place when this movie happened. He was a big star, but he had done drugs, hit a very, very low point in his career to the point where he almost didn’t have a career. And in-
Justin: And let me say I’ve always loved him. I’m a huge RDG fan.
Alex: Yeah? Oh, wow!
Justin: Top to bottom, even before all of this. There’s a movie he did called Chaplain, which is one of my favorite movies of all time, and that was-
Pete: Well, you’re a classically trained actor. That’s like your-
Justin: I’m a classically trained actor.
Pete: That’s in your wheelhouse of you know.
Justin: Yeah. Any time an actor steps up and does some acting, it’s in my wheelhouse.
Alex: Part of the reason Jon Favreau wanted Robert Downey Jr. was, to put it bluntly, this damage in his career. He felt like he really could, from a real-world perspective, channel what was going on with Tony Stark in the movie, but also have that story to sell the film in a certain way, that it’s Iron Man’s redemption story. It’s also Robert Downey Jr.’s story.
Alex: The things that I thought were surprising when I was reading about it, first of all, Robert Downey Jr. didn’t have to audition but chose to audition because he was considered such a risk. And for somebody in his career at that level, even with all of the stuff behind him, you usually don’t. Apparently, he wore a tux, came in, blew everybody away, immediately became the first choice.
Alex: The previous first choice, the one that they wanted before Robert Downey Jr. came and auditioned, was Sam Rockwell, who ended up becoming Justin Hammer, the villain, the anti-Tony Stark in Iron Man II, which I thought was neat.
Pete: Yeah, that’s cool.
Justin: And I do think he has the skills and the qualities, I think, that he could have been a good Tony Stark, but it would have been a different … you’d like him a little less, I think.
Pete: But also, the thing about having Tony Stark in that car and that AC/DC Back in Black moment is also interesting because it’s not only this character back but also Robert Downey Jr. himself. There were some interesting winking going on early in this movie.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, just to finish up the setup things that also I was surprised to find out, Iron Man wasn’t what they originally planned on starting with, with these Marvel Studios films. It was something that had been in development for, I think, over 20 years at this point in various aspects. They had it at Universal. They had it at New Line, I think. Tom Cruise was very interested at one point. Quentin Tarantino was going to take a crack at the script.
Alex: Also, interestingly, and we’ll get to this when we talk about Avengers, and obviously there’s a lot of controversy about this, but Joss Whedon took a crack at the script as well and was hired at one point. There’s a lot of backstory there, a lot of people involved. Even Nicholas Cage put in his hat, of course, to play Iron Man. He has always wanted.
Pete: He has so many hats he’s putting them everywhere. He’s got hats in every little movie venture.
Alex: What happened was, when Marvel Studios decided, “You know what? These movies are not going great. We have X-Men over in Fox. That was a big hit. We have Spider-Man over at Sony. That’s a big hit. But we don’t have anything we own ourselves.” They decided, “We’re going to make our own movies. They held onto the rights of Iron Man long enough for it to revert to them, which apparently pissed off New Line a little bit because they actually did want to make an Iron Man movie. But the goal was not to make a hit movie. The goal was to sell toys because that’s how Marvel was making their money at the time.
Pete: Man, those idiots. They don’t know what they’re doing.
Alex: What they did, and this is wild, is they did a focus group with kids of all the characters that they had the rights to. Their plan was to start with Captain America, and the kids said, “No, we like this Iron Man guy.” And they’re like, “All right, that’s going to sell the most toys. Let’s do that.”
Justin: Let’s do that.
Pete: Exactly. Kids were like, “I want the hard-drinking robot man. I love demon in a bottle. Why, I want him to have a complicated weapons contract with America.”
Alex: And they delivered right there in the first act. Kids were like, “Oh, make the terrorist attack very bloody. It’s very upsetting”
Pete: “The irony of the bomb has even his name on it and blowing up his taste. It’s like a cookie.”
Alex: “Come here, and after the flashback, sleep with Leslie Bibb. I want to see her naked back. It’s like a little edgy for PG-13.”
Justin: That’s true.
Pete: These focus groups are insane. They really-
Pete: [crosstalk 00:07:14]
Alex: Yeah. It was me and Justin, actually. We were the focus group.
Justin: We do perfect kid impressions.
Alex: It’s our fault.
Justin: I mean, they bought it.
Alex: Just to wrap up this little bit, and then we can actually get into the movie, the thing that also is funny about it is, because of the content of the movie and the fact that Iron Man was an untested property that nobody knew, nobody wanted to make toys for it. They eventually did, and they got some marketing things. But apparently, Marvel had a very hard time convincing anybody to make toys from Iron Man.
Alex: They even tried to tie it into Spider-Man III and said, “Hey, you can get all of these Spider-Man III toys set up if you just do these Iron Man toys.” And people were like, “I don’t know. Nobody wants to be a guy in a heavy metal robot suit.” That-
Alex: [crosstalk 00:07:53]
Justin: Instead, they were like, “Spider-Man III is a sure-fire hit.”
Justin: [crosstalk 00:07:56]
Pete: No question.
Alex: There’s a ton more backstory there that we can probably get into as we’re going through this, but let’s talk through the movie. Pete, you love Iron Man the most of any of us. You’re a huge Jon Favreau head.
Alex: You love Chef. It’s your number one, I think.
Pete: Don’t fucking try to tarnish my shit right now. Okay? This is a nice moment for me. All right? Iron Man is-
Justin: You love what, Maid? Is Maid your favorite one?
Pete: Maid is a good movie. Swingers is the best. All right. But first off, this has comedic timing like the … The comedic touch on this movie is undeniable, and the fact that Jon Favreau is directing this is just perfect because four minutes in, he’s Iron Man. Like a comedian, he’s cutting the fat, getting to this stuff. It is really well done.
Alex: What are you talking about? It’s like half an hour in, he’s Iron Man.
Pete: Well, no. Four minutes in is when he gets blown up. It’s already-
Alex: Gotcha. Okay.
Justin: You’re saying the entry is what makes him Iron Man.
Pete: Yeah, yeah. He wakes up with a thing in his chest. He’s Iron Man. He’s got to figure it out.
Justin: And it’s especially crazy because Jon Favreau had to drive Robert Downey Jr. around this whole time as well, and he was still directing. It’s fucked up.
Alex: You love Happy Hogan. You love Jon Favreau as Foggy Nelson-
Pete: Yep, yep.
Alex: … from the best version of Dare Devil.
Pete: Oh, stop. But Jon Favreau, I mean, come on, the dude’s money. He’s so money.
Justin: He’s so money, wow.
Alex: And he doesn’t even know it. He actually got this job, I mean, I think most people know this, but he got this job off of starring as Foggy Nelson in the Daredevil movie because he became friendly with Avi Arad, who’s produced a ton of the movies. And that’s how he ended up snagging this job. A lot of people apparently didn’t want to direct it because it was this very risky project. And they ended up with Favreau, which set the mold for the entire MCU-
Alex: [crosstalk 00:09:58]
Justin: This is an-
Justin: [crosstalk 00:09:59] proven. It’s even directors.
Pete: [crosstalk 00:10:01] comedic directors.
Justin: It’s even beyond the MCU. It’s like all blockbuster entertainment. The style and pacing of this movie is what blockbusters are now. There’s no doubt about it, high action, lots of jumping around.
Justin: Jokes happening in the middle of action. You see the DC movies trying to hit this tone, and they just don’t quite have it. I don’t know what special sauce they have over there or whose hand is really guiding that. It’s really striking to me that other movies can’t replicate this, and it really is a signature Marvel style.
Pete: Yeah. I mean, it’s really impressive how in-depth it feels, but it’s also going so quickly. The movie slows down at important moments and skips through a lot. It’s really impressive how much is covered in this movie. We get to see the whole first Iron Man suit and the second Iron Man, just the whole evolution of it. And it’s impressive how much is packed in this movie. You have amazing rom-com moments with Pepper, really touching, powerful moments. It’s badass. It’s hilarious. It does a lot of the things.
Justin: Once again, the road to success is right through Foggy Nelson.
Pete: I think we all know that. It’s all about the heart.
Alex: It’s funny you mention this, and this is probably the first of many times you’re going to yell at me on this podcast, Pete.
Alex: But I do think that is one of the strengths and also one of the weaknesses of the movie that there-
Alex: [crosstalk 00:11:29] are so many things they had covered and so many great sequences. And on their own, I really love a lot of them, like the stuff with … is it [Ginen 00:11:37], the guy who he’s trapped with in the cave? Really nice-
Pete: Don’t you talk shit about Yinsen. What are you about to do right now?
Alex: I’m about to say it’s really nice and emotional, Pete.
Pete: Oh, okay.
Pete: Holy shit.
Alex: Really nice and emotional, their bond is great. It sets it up. It’s not exactly this, but they clearly tweaked it a little bit to make this very Uncle Ben type mentorship role where his-
Pete: Easy with that.
Alex: … death was the thing that motivates Tony Start throughout the movie. And I think they sell that really well, but it has this very three-act structure there that’s very specific where it often feels like you’re jumping from one movie to another in a very specific way. Justin, you were going to jump in and say something, I think.
Justin: Oh, I was going to say I agree with you about the Yinsen stuff. It made me want to hear more about him in later movies. It feels like it’s done so well it really feels like a tent pole for Tony’s change in career. And after he leaves the cave, you don’t really hear much about him.
Pete: But it’s because of that powerful bond that really changes Tony’s life. He’s sitting there, and he’s depressed and shit, being like, “I have a week to live.” And then he’s like, “So this is an important week for you.” Unbelievable just the way it was delivered. How it was said was just … for me, the casting in this movie is … we’re still feeling … I mean, fucking Jarvis, we got WandaVision. I mean, the casting in this movie is unbelievable at every step and turn. It’s really-
Alex: I have a question for you guys because I didn’t know this fact. Do you know offhand what Jarvis stands for in the movies, not in the comic book, but in the movies because it’s an acronym? Pete, you’re an Iron Man head, you know this. You watched a YouTube video beforehand. No?
Pete: Vision is the V?
Alex: No, it’s just a rather very intelligent system.
Pete: That is a stretch.
Alex: Yeah, there you go. And apparently, Paul Bettany, when he was recording this stuff, he was like, “Yeah, easiest job I ever did. I don’t know what was going on in the movie. I just came in, recorded a bunch of stuff over the course of a day, got paid. It was great.” And then, like you were saying, Pete, 13 years later, he’s this incredible, emotional dude in WandaVision, and he’s the heart and could of that, and it’s awesome.
Pete: Plus, we get the Coulson thing, right? There’s so much that happens in this movie to launch Marvel in such a great position and to have so much to pull from. It’s really impressive.
Justin: I forgot how much Coulson was a part of this. I thought he was just like, “Hi. Would you mind having a meeting with me?” But in fact, he-
Pete: He saves the day.
Justin: … saves the day at the end, which I-
Alex: It’s also funny, stuff like that, like the shield bit that goes throughout. That, also the Ten Rings, which I’m sure we could talk about because that’s coming up later in the MCU, but-
Pete: That really caught me off guard. I was surprised.
Alex: Yeah. But the shield bit where he’s like, “Yeah, we’re kind of figuring out the name.” And then later, 13 years later, you’re like, “There’s decades of history. Also, Tony Stark’s father founded this.”
Justin: Exactly, yeah. Yeah. Casual reckoning there. In the movie, they were like, “Maybe this will be a success.” But no way would they ever have predicted.
Alex: Totally. I want to talk-
Pete: Wait, wait, wait. Since Alvin is going to disperse me, I just want to say I have seen Iron Man-
Alex: Besmirch, is that what you’re-
Justin: [Disperch 00:14:55]?
Pete: Well, I mean, you’re [smirching 00:14:57] me. All right? I don’t know. Whatever the real word is, but don’t smirch me. All right? So look-
Alex: You’re smirching your honor.
Justin: Like [smirchandise 00:15:03]?
Pete: I have seen Iron Man over 100 times, so yeah, I watched a YouTube video to refresh myself before we did the thing. Don’t fuck with my shit like that.
Justin: No one-
Alex: Nobody is besmirching you or your honor in any way. I just-
Pete: [crosstalk 00:15:17] you watch the YouTube video like that’s all I did for this, so I’m-
Alex: No, this is a queue up. This is a queue up for you to talk about … before we got on, you were like, “Yeah, I watched a YouTube video.” And I said, “Oh, which one?” And you were like, “Wait until I tell you on the podcast, so I was queuing you up to say it on the podcast.”
Pete: No, no.
Alex: You’re just never going to tell us.
Justin: Was it Dramatic Chipmunk or something?
Alex: Was it Party in the USA?
Pete: I don’t know how this has become about the YouTube video when it was clearly about the fact that you were throwing me under the bus.
Alex: It 100% was not.
Justin: We’re all under the bus, Pete, but some of us are looking at the stars. Let’s talk about Terrence Howard.
Justin: Now, I don’t know. I liked his Rhodey in this.
Alex: Roadie was great.
Justin: Not to besmirch Don Cheadle in any way.
Pete: Don’t mirch him.
Justin: Don’t smirch him.
Justin: Please, Hammer, don’t smirch him. I really liked Terrence Howard. It’s funny. How would the MC be different if Terrence Howard had stayed as Rhodey?
Alex: Man, I don’t know. I agree with you. His energy is so good, and his energy with Robert Downey Jr. is so good in this movie and so much fun. Reportedly, and who knows, apparently he’s difficult to work with on set. And for better or for worse, what Marvel goes for is team players. They want people who can come in and do the job and aren’t going to create too much trouble, and that’s pretty much it.
Alex: Terrence Howard, as far as I’ve read, was the reason they were able to get the cast that they were. He had a ton of heat on him having just done Hustle and Flow. I don’t think he was on Empire yet. Maybe he was. But whatever it was, he was a hot commodity. They cast him first out of anybody and were able to leverage him to get the rest of the cast. Then when they decided, “Nope, we’re not going to give you much money for the sequel,” he was like, “I’m out.”
Alex: And then, ultimately, Don Cheadle got a ton more money than he did. It’s good for Don Cheadle. Don Cheadle, good as War Machine, enjoy him. But I don’t know if Don Cheadle and Robert Downey Jr. have the same easy, fun rapport that Robert Downey Jr. and Terrence Howard have.
Justin: 100%. I don’t buy the friendship between Don Cheadle and Robert Downey Jr. nearly as much as Terrence Howard. There’s a great little cut in the early part of the movie when they’re on the plane. He’s like, “It’s hot sake. I’m not drinking anything.” And it hard cuts into him holding the hot sake later, being like, “Here’s the thing, Tony. What we need to do …” And it’s just so real, so funny. I thought that was great.
Pete: Yeah. But I just think that the difference also, Don Cheadle came in to be a more business-like, “I’m not on the side of Tony Stark. I’m on a different …” it was like a different Rhodey. You know what I mean?
Alex: And Terrence Howard is the War Machine, and Don Cheadle is more the business machine.
Pete: Yeah, yeah. That was different parts. Don Cheadle definitely would have brought something interesting to the relationship. I don’t want to underplay Cheadle here. I think he’s a really good actor but just different. And I think it would have been a different movie, so it’s interesting, the fact that we got Terrence Howard here and got this budding closeness thing and then later saw a different Rhodey.
Justin: Yeah, but businessman, business wars are all my favorite … business machine, that’s what I want to say.
Justin: [crosstalk 00:18:45]
Alex: You got it. I will say, just to wrap up this Terrence Howard discussion, that last moment where he sees, I think it’s the Mark II armor, and says, “Next time.” Such a great moment, such a bummer in retrospect that we didn’t get to see him do it. But again, Don Cheadle, great. We like Don Cheadle. Let’s talk about Pepper Potts. Let’s talk about Gwyneth Paltrow.
Pete: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
Pete: Just before we wrap up Rhodey, the line where he was like … after Tony Stark survives and is laying there, and he rolls up and was like, “How was the [funvee 00:19:16]?” I mean, that was just such a great callback, such a great bit, and delivered. Really just for me, I was just like, “Wow! This is a hilarious relationship.”
Alex: Well, this is another thing that I think actually, before we get to Pepper Potts, that I think would be good for us to talk about, and this is another thing that I do think even I recall seeing it back in 2008, feeling like this led to some of the best moments and some of my least favorite moments of the movie is that a large majority of it was improvised.
Pete: Oh, yeah.
Alex: Part of it was-
Pete: Jon Favreau.
Alex: Well, it’s Jon Favreau. It’s also the fact that they were rolling very quickly with this script. When they first introduced it at Comic-Con, Jon Favreau came out and said, “The villain is The Mandarin.” And by the next Comic-Con, when they had already filmed a chunk of the movie, they were like, “Uh, there’s no Mandarin. Actually, Obadiah Stane is the villain.”
Alex: He apparently was supposed to be the villain in the second one, and they were going to build him up. Instead, they switched it when Jeff Bridges came on, and then they just didn’t have most of the script finished. Robert Downey Jr., in particular, felt very comfortable improvising. Apparently, Jeff Bridges did not at all at first and was very uncomfortable with it until he brought around his thinking and then realized … I think the phrase was, “It’s a $200 million student film,” is what he called it. And then he was like, “All right, fine. It’s cool. Rather than fighting against it, let me just roll with everything that’s going on on set.”
Alex: But we’ve all done improv. We’ve all done comedy. I think you win some-
Pete: Have we all done improv?
Alex: … you lose one, and you do get great moments where Terrence Howard and Robert Downey Jr. are able to roll with it. But I don’t think Gwyneth Paltrow was able to roll with the improv in the same way.
Justin: Well, I think you actually just watched a YouTube video about improv. Right, Alex?
Alex: I don’t want to talk about that. How dare you besmirch me? I am besmirched.
Justin: So you’re smirched.
Pete: Yeah, don’t smirch on-
Pete: [crosstalk 00:21:08]
Justin: A couple of things there on the script thing. That’s why I feel like the Ten Ring stuff in the first act feels like, “Oh, this is a Mandarin movie.” And it’s clearly … well, now we’re getting to Shang Chi where they really run with that, and it’s the same iconography in this movie so many years earlier that we’re seeing in the run-up to Shang Chi. That’s so cool, the fact that they’re able to do that in the most subtle way possible that was accidental really, a mistake you could even say. They were like, “The Mandarin is the villain,” and then, “No, Obadiah Stane is.”
Justin: It also lets Jeff Bridges and Stane, in general, just be an underplayed character. He doesn’t get his heel turn until almost halfway through the movie, which I thought was so surprising and made the movie so much more unpredictable and fun.
Pete: Because also, Bridges, you don’t think evil guy. He really plays that in such an interesting way. And it’s a creepy that you don’t … it’s not like he’s being loud or big. When he walks up to Pepper Potts and gets in her personal space to grab a newspaper, your heart is going crazy because of just the way he’s moving and the fact of what we know. But what does he know?
Pete: I’m glad that he was able to take himself down a notch or whatever, to be like, “Hey, I’m going to have some fun. I’m going to do some improv, and we can make this student film happen.”
Justin: I will say when he rolled up, one of the more subtle moments when he rolled up smoking a cigar on a segue, I was like, “Hero or villain? What is this man?”
Alex: I just want to mention because you mentioned the scene, Pete, I love the stinger on that newspaper scene where they just have this long shot of him saying, “I want to do the puzzle.”
Justin: Yeah, yeah. Which was … technically, he did. That was before he was after or suspicious of her. He really did want to do the puzzle.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. Great motivation there.
Pete: I mean, also, him going back for that extra slice of pizza is such an evil move. As he’s dying, he’s still taking the last of that man’s pizza. I mean, damn.
Alex: What did you just call him?
Alex: No. Did you just say [Akman 00:23:26]?
Alex: I don’t know. It sounded like you said Akman.
Alex: Besmirch, I’m smirching you.
Justin: Alex was like, “What did you say?” Pete, you were like, “Pizza?” Pizza? Pizza?
Alex: Now, what I was mentioning earlier about the weakness of the improv, I do think that shows up a lot in the third act, which was one of the few parts of the movie that was completely preplanned because they had made the animatics for the entire last sequence, the big fight. That was already set.
Alex: I think you get these great improv-y moments that are very loose and interesting that they were clearly playing around with on set. But that’s the one where it just becomes big CGI robot fight. It’s not as impressive, as interesting as a lot of the rest of the movie, and you get this dialogue thrown in that feels almost like video game lines. Particularly Obadiah Stane being like, “I’m a big robot,” or whatever he’s shouting. You know?
Justin: I agree.
Alex: What do you guys think of the end of the movie?
Pete: Well, first off, I was a little confused if you were taking a shot at improv or third acts when you were saying the weak improv of the third act.
Alex: No, just Iron Man, just Iron Man.
Pete: Oh, okay. But I mean, in his defense, if I turned into a giant robot, I think I would yell I’m a giant robot a bunch of times. I’m not mad at that. I mean, yeah, it was a little clunky having his big robot versus the smaller, quicker Iron Man, more advanced. But I think that, yeah, it wasn’t like the greatest part of the movie, but the actual ending of the movie is such an uplifting, yeah moment that fine, okay, it got a little weird where little guy beats David and Goliath moment. Whatever.
Justin: Well, for me, it was, in re-watching it, I was like, “Oh, this is the last fight.” Because of the way it’s structured, you fall into it really quickly, which is very different from a lot of the MCU movies going forward, where it was very much setting up the final fight, and you knew you were in it when it was coming. And this was like, “Oops, here you are. You’re in it.” And Pepper is doing her thing. Coulson is there. And it happens fast, and then it’s over.
Justin: I thought it was different. I didn’t hate it. I just thought it felt a little, to your point, Alex, a little herky-jerky the way it was like, “Oh, they’re going into space because it’s where it’ll freeze.” And then it’s like, “Oh, that didn’t work at all.” And then they’re back doing this other thing, and then the EM explosion that ends up killing him.
Alex: That’s the thing. I don’t hate any part of this movie. I think there’s things that … this is the first movie in an extended movie series that they had to figure out things. They were setting the mold to figure it out later, but they didn’t knock it out of the park the first time. They got a ground rule double. Is that how baseball works, Pete?
Alex: Pete, sports expert, was that the video that you watched about how baseball works?
Pete: Sure, sure, ground rule double, that works.
Alex: How baseball works search on YouTube.
Justin: Don’t you smirch baseball work.
Alex: Sorry about that. We should talk about Pepper Potts, though. We skipped over her a little bit.
Pete: Yes, please.
Alex: How do you feel about Gwyneth Paltrow, who has become a wellness guru in the intervening time?
Justin: You can see the goop all over the wall. You know what I’m talking about?
Pete: Oh, come on. Come on. No, I mean that love story is just magical. The back and forth that they have, the fact that he’s literally dying. She saves him, and he’s like, “You’re all I have.” And then later, she says, “You’re all I got too.” I mean, come on, it’s just magic. It’s beautiful.
Justin: I mean, it’s a tough … this movie, this is where it had a little bit of showing its age. The way the movie talks about women, in general, is like, “Oh, this wouldn’t fly at all anymore.” And there’s a little bit of that in the relationship between Pepper and Tony, and I do think Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow have great chemistry in the movie despite the fact that there’s a lot of him. Her whole movie is just being like, “Tony, how can I help.” And so she’s very one-dimensional in that way, and I do think I would like to see more things happening with her.
Justin: That is the character in the comics, but I think that’s also dated in a way where this role, this character, should have more going on than just absolute devotion to a guy who’s a jerk, at least in the beginning of the movie. And eventually, you do start to see that he does care for her, but not in a super outward way. They’re flirting, and the romance is going somewhere, it seems like. But it’s not like he’s like, “Pepper.” I mean, she saves his life multiple times in this movie. His heart, her giving him that that he doesn’t open. She does a weird job wrapping that, by the way.
Pete: Oh, come on, dude.
Justin: I imagine that’s how I wrap Christmas presents.
Pete: So what? Sometimes you just brown bag it. What’s the big deal?
Justin: The tape job was suspect, Pepper.
Pete: So what?
Justin: Well, she seems like a meticulous person. Why is she using four pieces of Scotch tape at weird angles?
Pete: Because she’s probably on the phone making an appointment, doing a bunch of different stuff at once.
Justin: Yeah, I’m-
Justin: [crosstalk 00:28:33]
Alex: That was the worst part of the movie.
Pete: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.
Justin: But anyway, my point is, I do think they would have given … this movie would be better if Pepper had more going on.
Alex: Yeah, I think the treatment of women, and that also goes back to Leslie Bibb’s character, which is just very weird and a bad trope that people have pointed out, I think, a lot more after Iron Man, the idea of a reporter sleeping with their sources. I, as a reporter, do that all the time, mind you. But I think it’s still a bad trope.
Justin: Yeah, it’s a bad trope that you live by.
Alex: Yes, exactly. No, but it is. It’s a bad trope of-
Justin: What weapons developer have you been sleeping with?
Alex: Elon Musk, and that’s obviously a bad trope, also the treatment of Ten Rings in general, just having generic, evil Arab terrorists is not great in retrospect. It’s funny. We’ll get to this eventually down the road, I assume, but the twists that they throw in there with Iron Man III with this organization, I think, worked to re-contextualize a lot of that. And obviously, also when we talk about Iron Man II in a couple of weeks, that will … they completely avoid it pretty much. Good for them.
Justin: Yeah, Alex, you were, at one point, sleeping with both Lockheed and Martin, right?
Alex: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It was tough, double dates in the same restaurant.
Pete: Oh, boy.
Justin: Oh, man.
Alex: Classic Mrs. Doubtfire situation by doing that.
Justin: I don’t think that’s what that is. I don’t think … first off, that movie is not known for that. Even though that’s in there, I don’t even-
Alex: It’s the most famous scene.
Justin: Oh, I don’t think it is.
Alex: Yeah. All right, before we move to the future, I just want to read through a couple of other little facts that I jotted down here about the movie. Tom Morello was a guard for the Ted Riggs in one scene, and he did the music for the movie. Also, Pete, I don’t know if you know this one unless this was in your YouTube video, Ghostface Killah actually had a scene in the movie that was set in Dubai, but they cut the whole sequence because it felt out of place.
Pete: Oh, that’s tough.
Alex: A real bummer there.
Alex: Oh, and this was another one. I had completely forgotten about this, but this was such a major part of the MCU phase one. Do you guys remember the Marvel brain trust that they brought in where it was Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort, Axel Alonso, and Ralph Macchio? And they were these comic book writers who were basically tasked … comic book writers, and editors, and creators tasked with saying, “Hey-“
Pete: And the Karate Kid?
Alex: Yeah, the Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio. That’s exactly who I mean.
Alex: They were tasked with making sure that this actually was true to the characters. Even with X-Men, I think this is arguable, even with X-Men, even with Spider-Man being huge hits, they weren’t exactly what comic book fans wanted. And I think this gets to the core of what actually works about Iron Man and the MCU, in general, is they make it so that anybody can watch it. Anybody who has never heard of Iron Man can watch this movie and enjoy this movie.
Alex: But even though it’s essentially different from the comics, it still feels true to them throughout. And I think a lot of that goes back to that work probably that Marvel brain trust layed in very early on.
Justin: Well, and I think what they do is it’s not about fan service. It’s not about putting an Easter egg in or a reference so it’s like, “Look. You know this. You like it.” It’s taking what works and what makes the iconic stories about each of these characters iconic being like, “This is a great story in comic book form, so let’s figure out why and then use those things to make it a great story in movie form.” And it’s just a smart way of going about the business. These people, this brain trust understands the storytelling of comics that make this story huge. Let’s just do it for the movies rather than try to make it about sneaking in fan references because that’s just not where the power is here.
Alex: Yeah. And I think that comes down to the post-credit sequence, which is another thing that created a seismic shift in the movie industry. There were post-credit sequences and mid-credit sequences before that here and there, but this thing with Nick Fury made it so that everybody sticks through every credits for every movie from now on. You expect. You want there to be a mid-credits or a post-credit sequence.
Alex: And honestly, this is one of my most salient memories of this movie is seeing it midnight at a movie theater in New York when it opened on opening day and packed movie theater. I had a great time watching it, even at midnight. But as the credits rolled, everybody started filtering out of the movie theater because nobody knew that there was a post-credits. Well, we weren’t at the point where I was like, “No, stop. No, stop,” because even I had heard rumors that there was something, so I decided to hang around because, at that point, it was 2:00 in the morning anyway, so where was I going?
Alex: But I stayed in there and one other guy all the way in the front of the movie theater, and this was a huge auditorium there. It was just the two of us, and-
Justin: That man is Pete Lepage.
Pete: Yeah, I was going to say that might have been me.
Alex: Well, and I remember so clearly when that scene came up. It was just the two of us in that movie theater, me in the middle, him, all the way in the front. And-
Pete: I love sitting in the front.
Alex: And Nick Fury comes out and says, “What do you know about the Avengers edition?” The guy just goes, “Yes! Yes!” And it was great, and we just shared that moment. And the two of us walked out afterwards like, “That’s so cool. They’re going to announce Avengers. That’s awesome.” Who could wait?
Justin: You just shared that moment and a light kiss, and that was it.
Pete: Yeah. I remember us holding hands on the way out.
Justin: And that was Lockheed. That was-
Justin: [crosstalk 00:34:04] Lockheed.
Alex: Yeah, that’s where I met him. I saw it the next morning with Martin, pretending that I had never seen the movie before. I was like, “Oh, maybe we should stick through the credits and-
Alex: [crosstalk 00:34:15]
Justin: Iron Man.
Alex: All right, there are a couple of things that we haven’t touched upon-
Justin: His name is Martin, too, right?
Pete: … that I want to just talk about like amazing comedic stuff. The fire extinguishing robot, I mean, that’s comedy gold. I mean, that was just hysterical when he crashed through, and then the fire extinguisher. I mean, come on. And then later, him being like, “Don’t you dare.” It was fantastic. Also, the fact where he … when he suits up for the first time when it’s finally ready, and he puts that on and whole … that was … you get chills. It was really just a powerful, cool-ass moment. And then the comedy bit of him crashing back and getting the [inaudible 00:35:03]. I mean, just great.
Alex: Just one thing that I want to mention off of that is I love … you’re talking about the final armor, right, the red and yellow armor where he finally gets into that?
Pete: Yeah, exactly.
Alex: I love that they’re able to have this amazing heroic moment in this movie and then a couple of scenes later have a hilarious moment where he’s trying to take it off, and it’s just ripping pieces off of him in the most awkward manner.
Alex: [crosstalk 00:35:25] and that they can lift this up. And I think, again, this gets to the core of these MCU heroes that they lift them up. They make them heroic, but they make them human at the same time.
Pete: And that line where he’s like, “This isn’t the weirdest thing you caught me doing,” or whatever it was. It was a great bit. But-
Justin: Yeah, because we all know what he meant.
Pete: Yeah, yeah. Like we said, not … but anyways, also when he … you get a badass walkaway explosion, where he launches the rocket at the tank, the small, little rocket, and then turns and it explodes. I mean, that’s just … I mean-
Alex: I tell you what, that’s my least favorite scene in the movie.
Pete: Wow! All right, well …
Alex: That whole attack scene, the fact that he has spent the first bunch of the movie learning that he shouldn’t create weapons, and then he immediately comes down, kills a bunch of terrorists.
Justin: Kills them.
Alex: Kills them, straight up kills them, blows them up-
Justin: Not a big Iron Man thing, yeah.
Alex: … in a huge way. And that’s really the only heroic thing that he does in the movie before he fights Obadiah Stane. That’s a bummer to me. It’s well filmed, to your point, Pete, but that scene just rubs me the wrong way.
Pete: Okay, I can understand that.
Alex: It has for 13 years.
Pete: Okay. Well, I’m sorry to bring it up. But a couple of kids and families get saved, so that was nice. And also, when he’s flying back, that whole thing about him hiding, just flapping around on a plane and calling Rhodey was hysterical. And it’s the Iron Man cartoon theme that is the ringer tone. I mean, that’s comedy gold. That’s a little fourth wall breaker right there. That’s some fun.
Justin: A couple of things I wanted to highlight, obviously, a catchphrase that you share with Tony Stark, Pete, cheeseburger first from when he comes back.
Pete: Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s just common sense.
Justin: We got the Stan Lee, Hugh Hefner cameo, which I’d forgotten that was the first one, essentially, which was weird.
Alex: That is weird. He plays Larry King in one of the movies as well. Right? Maybe Iron Man II, maybe I’m forgetting.
Justin: I do like the real-world people, Stan Lee playing real people version of the cameo cycle of his. The Pepper hacking into the computer when the files were secret, top-secret, ultra-secret, I was like, “Oh, someone did this quickly. This was not super thought through.” Another cool thing: Stane’s sonic paralysis device.
Pete: Oh, man.
Justin: They don’t explain it. It just happens, and we don’t ever talk about it again. I was like, “That’s cool.” I don’t need a whole long explanation about how he’s been developing this and how he can use it, which I feel like a lot of movies do. It’s just like, “Know this thing does this, and he’s using it too.”
Alex: Right, and he uses it in two scenes in very close succession, and it never comes back in any way.
Justin: Yeah, strange, but cool. And then I guess two other things. In the post-credit scene, Samuel L. Jackson is literally talking to the fans. He’s like, “You’re part of a larger universe. You just don’t know it yet.” He’s talking to Tony Stark, technically, but he’s literally looking right down the lens of the camera. And then just the fact that Tony Stark comes clean and says, “I’m Iron Man,” in that last press conference-
Pete: But also, we get AC/DC in the movie, but we don’t get the Iron Man song. And they immediately crank right into the Iron Man song. I mean, just the timing, the thing, it was just unbelievable.
Alex: Great. Two other things that I wanted to mention just as background, and then we’ll move on to future stuff. We mentioned Coulson earlier. Apparently, that was supposed to be just a one-scene thing, and then they liked Clark Gregg so much they kept bringing him back for more scenes.
Pete: Who doesn’t? That was the start of it, of all of us getting addicted to Coulson right there of like, “I want more of that Coulson guy.”
Alex: And you’ve been on recovery for 10 years now. Right, Pete?
Alex: Congratulation, by the way.
Pete: Thank you.
Alex: You’re welcome. And then the last thing on the Nick Fury thing, I’m sure you guys will be surprised to learn about this, but originally, Brian Michael Bendis wrote three pages of dialogue for Nick Fury to say in that scene, which-
Pete: No, he did not.
Alex: Yeah, Brian Michael Bendis.
Pete: No way.
Alex: Yeah. And then they cut it down. There were like, “Ah, let’s just chose the best lines on set and have him say that instead.” There was also, apparently, which I hadn’t heard before, a version where Fury mentioned radioactive bugs, gamma monsters, and mutants in that speech, which they actually filmed, but then found out that the rights were tied up with Fox and Sony, so they couldn’t actually do it.
Justin: Yeah, they should have known that.
Alex: Yeah, they probably should have figured that out. There you go. That’s Iron Man. Now we’re going to move on to our vision board. Usually, the vision board, we talk about what we expect or want to happen in upcoming episodes of this-
Justin: I want to-
Alex: [crosstalk 00:40:13] series.
Justin: I want a sequel for Iron Man.
Pete: Oh, yeah.
Alex: What do you want to see? A sequel?
Justin: Yeah, so I can have more of this Robert Downey Jr. guy.
Pete: Oh, man.
Alex: That would be great. Instead, since obviously we know what’s happened now with the MC, we’re going to talk about a couple of things that we know are coming up or think are coming up. Based on the Iron Man movies, the first one we should talk about, and this is a recent thing that people were discussing, they were saying, a billboard put up by fans, that they want Tony Stark to come back to the MC. Spoiler if you’ve only watched Iron Man, he dis later on.
Alex: I know. I’m sorry. Their hashtag is bring back Tony Stark to life-
Pete: Wait, wait. What?
Alex: … which is pretty awkward.
Justin: But it’s-
Justin: [crosstalk 00:40:55]
Pete: It sounds like something I would say.
Alex: Yes. But to honor these fans a little bit, do you want to see Robert Downey Jr. come back as Iron Man at any point down the road, or are you done with him? Are you don’t with him post-End Game?
Justin: I would see him in a little. I don’t want to see another Iron Man movie or launch another trilogy of movies or whatever. I think he can come back and be featured in some way. He’s in some sort of soul world, or he’s in one of the infinity stones or something where it’s like … bringing him back to life, I feel like, is a mistake because it just-
Pete: [crosstalk 00:41:32] powerful. Yeah.
Justin: … the story that we’ve heard and been told.
Pete: I agree with Justin, but I think that, yeah, using him here and there a little bit, maybe in a flashback, you get one scene in Black Widow with him or maybe in a cameo on something else. But just using him lightly, sprinkled him in every once in a while, I think, would be fun. But no need to recant what’s happened. I’m excited for what’s maybe going to happen instead of bringing him back. But I do think it’s a great thing about comic books is characters are never dead-dead. They’ll come back around when people feel like it’s appropriate or there’s a powerful story to tell with them.
Justin: Whoever is the next Iron Man, perhaps there’s an Ironheart.
Justin: And you have Tony Stark as the Jarvis voice or something like that.
Alex: Yes. Well, let’s talk about that in one second. The one thing that I wanted to mention about Black Widow before we move on from that is, obviously, we’re going to see that pretty soon in July, but that takes place post-Civil War before Black Widow died. So there’s certainly a possibility of Iron Man showing up in some way there. Also, we got the Loki series coming up, which seems to be jumping through timelines, so that’s possible. And then there’s the what-if series, the animated one that’s coming down the pipe-
Pete: Oh, man. That’s-
Alex: … after Loki, where everybody is redoing their voices. So, if there is an Iron Man episode, which I believe there is, I think we’ll probably hear him in some way there. But let’s talk about Ironheart. Ironheart is going to start Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams. She builds her own suit of armor. She is, I think in the comics, canonically smarter than Tony Stark is, the way that they’ve set it up, but she also eventually gets an AI Tony Stark that is in her armor that is like her Jarvis. What do you think about that? Is there a possibility that we’re going to get RDJ to reprise his role on that series as AI Tony Stark?
Justin: I mean, yeah, I would think so. That feels like an easy win for everyone.
Pete: Yeah, he’s just got to do a couple of voiceover things. It’s no big deal.
Alex: No big deal.
Justin: It’s no big deal.
Alex: Yeah. Oh, it’ll be easy. That would be super fun, and I think that would make people super excited for that series, which I think people are already very excited about. And the other one that we teased earlier on is there’s an armor war series coming with Don Cheadle as War Machine, and it is about when Tony Stark’s tech falls into the wrong hands. Now, Justin, you’re a huge Armor Wars head.
Alex: Are you psyched for this show?
Justin: Yeah, I’m curious how they’re going to tackle it. I feel like they need more people we’ve already met to be in this and be in the armor, different armors. Who will that be? I don’t know.
Alex: I don’t know. They’ve killed most of them.
Justin: [crosstalk 00:44:15] Whiplash.
Alex: I feel like we’ll see Justin Hammer again. Maybe we’ll talk about this more when we talk about Iron Man II. But yeah, there’s not a lot of ironed folks who are hanging around because they tend to kill off the villains in the MCU.
Justin: Yeah, we don’t have a lot of irons in the fire, and I think we need more of them.
Alex: Yes. But that should be very exciting. And folks, thank you for tuning in to our Iron Man episode. Next week, we’re going to be continuing to truck our way through the MCU with the Incredible Hulk, which surprisingly came out two months after Iron Man, which consistently blows my mind that that happened, but we’re going to be talking about that next week. Also, down the road, we’re going to have some special guests on these episodes as we make our way to Loki debuting in June.
Alex: If you’d like to support our podcast patrion.com/comicbookclub. Also, we do a live show every Tuesday night at 7:00 PM to Crowdcast and YouTube. Come hang out. We’d love to chat with you about Iron Man or any aspect of the MCU @marvelvision pod on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, iTunes, Android, Spotify, Stitcher, or the app of your choice to subscribe and listen. Comicbookclublive.com for this podcast and many more. Until next time, I am Iron Man.
Pete: Uh, no.
Pete: You’re Alex Zalben.
Justin: How dare you smirch that?
Pete: Yeah, don’t smirch it, bro.
Alex: Hey, Pete, what YouTube video did you watch?
Pete: It was all of the great things about the movie Iron Man.