Week of January 2, 2022:

Iron Man released May 2, 2008 (where to watch)
Erik Bates | January 2, 2022
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Scott Hardie | January 2, 2022
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Scott Hardie | January 2, 2022

I don't know when this week I'm going to see the movie (again) and have more to say about it, but I want to say up front that I'm glad that we're finally getting started on this after talking about it for a while. I've wanted to re-watch the entire MCU for a long time, I regretted not doing it at the start of the pandemic like I considered (it certainly would have been easier before the avalanche of Disney+ shows), and I'm glad that I decided to do it in conversation with friends. Thanks for going on this journey with me. Let's have some fun. :-)

Erik Bates | January 2, 2022

I woke up early and watched it this morning, as may be my pattern for the foreseeable future with this project. Definitely have more time to watch at 6am on a Sunday and chime in with comments sporadically through the remainder of the week.

Scott Hardie | January 2, 2022

I'd like to ask you all something up front in week 1: What's your familiarity with the MCU already? What are you most curious to see for the first time?

Me, I've seen every feature film, all of the Disney+ shows, and about 75% of the Netflix originals. I want to consider myself an MCU expert based on that, but if you break it down by running time, I've still only seen about half of what's out there. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been my biggest blind spot for years and I'm looking forward to it based on its reputation, but the thing I'm most curious to see must be the "One-Shot" short films produced as part of Phase 1. They're such curiosities in the scheme of things, abandoned after the first batch and unlike anything else Marvel produced, relics of a time when the studio was trying to figure itself out. Maybe they're great! Maybe they're terrible! I have no idea!

Evie Totty | January 2, 2022

I'm looking forward to the One Shots as well.

I've not seen the final seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, or S.H.I.E.L.D. I'm not certain if I've seen all of Agent Carter. Have not seen M.O.D.O.K. or Hit-Monkey... Ok as I look at the list, there are some that I didn't know existed.

Otherwise, I've seen everything else.

Scott Hardie | January 2, 2022

Just watched Iron Man. Loved it again! Haven't seen it since it was in theaters. Random thoughts:

• RDJ's puckish charm was revelatory in 2008. For years I've thought of it as key to the film's success, giving the MCU a playfulness that became its brand. (We consider this superhero stuff fun; shouldn't the hero too?) Watching the movie now, Stark's charm feels like a much smaller element. There weren't as many moments of Stark being Stark as I expected. That's fine! It's a testament to the brand's success over the years at being so entertaining that I expected more of that magic right out of the gate.

• Speaking of RDJ's charm, it seems to me that this movie succeeded by inverting the usual personalities. Most superhero movies up until this point had made the hero quite serious and boring, and had to surround him with colorful supporting characters to inject personality: Consider Heath Ledger's firecracker Joker to Christian Bale's ultra-dry Batman, or Kris Kristofferson's sardonic Whistler to Wesley Snipes's joyless Blade, or Willem Dafoe's wack-ass Green Goblin to Tobey Maguire's angsty Spider-Man. Iron Man is smarter: It gives the hero the irrepressible wit, and makes everyone else play it straight so that he can shine. Great choice.

• Also smart: Launching the MCU with the hero most grounded in reality (of the viable candidates at the time). Starting off with magic or fantasy would have robbed the audience of a firm footing in that world.

• I forgot how tiny Happy Hogan's part was! It was basically a director cameo by Jon Favreau. Did he even have a single line?

• Everyone looks so young, of course. Kelly remarked on it several times. Jeff Bridges does too, but I'm struck a second time at how radically he changed his appearance and demeanor, and yet how comfortable he seems. Obadiah Stane feels real, not like a comic book character, give or take a villainous monologue in his final moments.

• How many different actors played Howard Stark? Sheesh.

Scott Hardie | January 2, 2022
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Scott Hardie | January 2, 2022
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Evie Totty | January 3, 2022

Ok after watching last night - I'm reminded how much of a dang shame Terrance Howard was replaced. I have nothing against Don Cheadle, I just do not see him as War Machine".

Regardless - as the movie that began it all, it was awesome watching it again - I think this is my third or fourth time doing so (I very rarely re-watch films, which I have realized I miss out on cool things I didn't notice the first time).

I did know a little bit about Iron Man prior to the film, but not much. I want to say, though, that when I had heard of Downey's casting, I felt he was perfect for the role and after seeing it I was even more convinced.

As far as Arabs being portrayed as bad guys in the film - I do know filmmakers have had an extremely difficult time finding "bad guys" ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall and later the Soviet Union. After 9/11, Arabs were an easy target and by 2007 (when IM was filmed) the War was already wearing on the public and it wasn't until 2011 that bin Laden was killed by US forces.

I will point out, though, that the film portrayed them more as local warlords (even though Raza mentioned wanting to conquer all of Asia).

It had been long enough since I'd seen it that I had totally forgotten that Stane was the one who had hired them to kill Tony, so I was shocked all over again when I saw the video.

I spent a significant amount of time after the movie watching the 'Extras', including the trailer. It was really cool seeing all that, especially since I was witnessing the chronicling of the birth of the MCU. All the hopes that things go well was neat, yadda yadda. (Also sad seeing Stans Winston and Lee.)

But while watching the trailer, I was like "Wow, they like, showed a LOT of the best shots!" I hate that! Like, when he blew up the tank - that was my favorite Iron Man "thing" in the whole movie.

However, as I'm typing out my "reaction" to the movie - I am sadly realizing that what I loved about the film - and pretty much all of these movies - was the spectacle. The 'ooo ahh' of it all. Because - what exactly was so great about the story? Tony Stark realized that his weapons were being used by "the enemy" and decided to shut down the weapons division as a result.

Would he have still had that attitude if the munitions all had "ACME" plastered across them? Would he have gone to [that village's name I've already forgotten] if he hadn't seen the Jericho bombs there in the pictures Christine showed him?

I remember after the film hoping to see them portray the Demon in a Bottle storyline. But they did not. I fear this Project will bring out a hell of a lot more of "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" than we are already aware of with "Age of Ultron.

Matthew Preston | January 4, 2022

The main thing I noticed (and maybe I'm making correlations where there aren't any) is the almost meta "handing over the franchise" from Jeff Bridges/Obadiah Stane to RDJ/Tony Stark. The intro video to Tony's award at the beginning of the movie shows how Tony took over Stark Industries and it felt kind of how most of Hollywood/fans felt about RDJ at the time.

- Tony does well as a young man, exceeding expectations.
(RDJ does well as a young actor in Hollywood).

- Tragedy strikes as Howard Stark is killed.
(Tragedy strikes as RDJ gets into drugs/alcohol, nearly ending his career).

- Obadiah Stane steps in as the interim CEO, to give much needed breathing room for the company and Tony.
(Hollywood steps in and says, get clean RDJ. Take a break).

- Tony Stark takes over as CEO. Don't mess this up, kid!
(RDJ is cast as Iron Man. Don't mess this up, kid!).

Jeff Bridges is a big enough name (along with other supporting cast of Gwyneth Paltrow and Terrance Howard) that I'm guessing Marvel hoped would fill the seats that RDJ couldn't attract.

Scott Hardie | January 4, 2022
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Evie Totty | January 4, 2022

Keep in mind RDJ was in Fincher's Zodiac the year before. And it's not like he'd messed up as badly as Mel Gibson (though insuring him was difficult at first). And he'd been out of prison since 2000.

It's a really cool theory, but I think it's reaching to believe they would gamble the existence of Marvel Studios just to write an entire script around RDJ (even though the comics version of Stane had always been an adversary).

(Note on Edit: added Stane to the last sentence for clarity)

Evie Totty | January 4, 2022

Yeah, it's definitely more the "I can't see Cheadle in the role" more than it is "I'd rather see Howard in the role". I can't say I could see Smith in it, either, though. Maybe This guy though.

Scott Hardie | January 4, 2022
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Scott Hardie | January 4, 2022

About the movie matching RDJ's life: You're on to something Matthew, but I think it's the other way around. I think that rather than the story being written to mirror RDJ's life because he inspired the writers, I think that RDJ was cast in the part because the producers noticed parallels between him and Tony Stark. Jon Favreau said:

The best and worst moments of Robert's life have been in the public eye. ... He had to find an inner balance to overcome obstacles that went far beyond his career. That's Tony Stark. Robert brings a depth that goes beyond a comic-book character who is having trouble in high school, or can't get the girl. ... 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.

Matthew Preston | January 5, 2022

About the three-point superhero landing: Check this out.
If you haven't watched the web series, Because Science, I highly recommend it. The host takes sci-fi/fantasy elements and interprets them in real world science.

And to be clear, I wasn't saying that they wrote the script specifically to mirror RDJ's life, just that there could have been some influence. And your quote from Jon Favreau helps that theory.

Evie Totty | January 5, 2022

Yeah love that guy!

Samir Mehta | January 5, 2022

Let me be the outlier. I love the MCU and yet Iron Man (and RDJ) is, without question, the worst and least engaging part of it for me. I wonder if I read the wrong vintage of Iron Man, but I wanted the gloomy, troubled guy, not the effervescent Uber capitalist war profiteer. RDJ is a talent actor but he felt like he was telegraphing his Depp/DeNiro/Pacino style plans to coast in later roles (his awful Sherlock especially) in Iron Man. Yet it is a well directed film with great support. But, for me, the franchise began weakly.

Evie Totty | January 5, 2022

No, I hear you Samir - I really wanted to see "Demon in a Bottle".

Scott Hardie | January 5, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man Three, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Reveal it.

Scott Hardie | January 5, 2022

I could also point out that if the studio had actually wanted to do a whole film about Stark's alcoholism, and they needed an actor who could portray someone in the throes of addiction believably, they definitely already had one.

Speaking of addiction, one of my favorite funny little bits of Iron Man trivia is the Burger King connection. RDJ once publicly thanked Burger King for saving his life: He said that he had been driving around with a potentially fatal amount of heroin when he stopped at BK for lunch, and the cheeseburger was so terrible that it made him ponder the wrong turns in life that had led him there, and so he threw away the drugs and got help. And the best part is that Burger King had a promotional deal with Marvel Studios! That's their wrapper on the burger that Stark eats before the press conference, and they included Iron Man toys in kid's meals at the time.

Here's another amusing little thing that I noticed in the movie by virtue of listening to the MCU soundtracks too many times. Ghostface Killah is a noted longtime fan of the Iron Man character and has rapped about him since the nineties. The studio hired him to record a new track called "Slept on Tony" to promote the film that recaps the story. And then Marvel played this track in the movie itself, showing the characters listening to it in-universe, in the sake scene. So the characters are listening to a track about Tony Stark becoming Iron Man, before he becomes Iron Man.

Also: I don't know much about classical music, but I did happen to see a video recently about Beethoven's ninth symphony and how it was his last great work at the end of his life. That allowed me to appreciate the added meaning in the scene where Stane takes the arc reactor out of Stark's chest and leaves him to die, and he calls it Stark's ninth symphony.

Evie Totty | January 5, 2022

Pretty neat, thanks!

Samir Mehta | January 5, 2022
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Evie Totty | January 6, 2022

BTW Ghostface is in the Dubai party deleted scene according to Access Hollywood. It answers my question as to how he was able to get to the village so fast.

Scott Hardie | January 7, 2022
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Evie Totty | January 7, 2022
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Scott Hardie | January 8, 2022

How weird was it to see this at the beginning?

Evie Totty | January 8, 2022

Yeah, that's what prompted me to look up how long they produced.

Stephanie McCann | January 9, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Iron Man Three, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Captain Marvel. Reveal it.

Scott Hardie | January 10, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Reveal it.

Evie Totty | January 14, 2022

You never saw AOS? Oh you are in for a treat - somewhat. I have not completed the final season, so looking forward to that.

Scott Hardie | January 15, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Reveal it.

Evie Totty | January 15, 2022

Oh wow, that's pretty cool!

Scott Hardie | February 18, 2022

For my own amusement, I'm going to start keeping track of how I would rate the movies and shows after seeing them today. (To me, 1-3 is equivalent to "it sucked," 4-6 is equivalent to "it was ok," and 7-9 is equivalent to "it ruled." I almost never rate something a 10.)


Please join me in quantifying your opinions, if and however you'd like.

Scott Hardie | May 5, 2023
This comment contains spoilers for The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Reveal it.

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