Oh I did it fam. In preparation for my viewing of Avengers: Infinity War on April 26th at 7PM, I went back and rewatched the previous 18 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from Iron Man to Black Panther. Every day leading up to Infinity War I’ll be posting a short piece on each film and my most recent hot takes on nearly a decade of the MCU. I’ll also be linking back to whatever old nonsense I wrote about the movies at the time, if applicable. And if that isn’t enough, check out my ranked listed of the MCU to date on my Letterboxd account here.
The first time I saw Iron Man was on the back of an airplane headrest. I’d already seen Incredible Hulk, which was cool, but not even Ed Norton proved to be a charming as this sassy middle-aged man I was entirely unfamiliar with. I mean, Iron Man was no Dark Knight, but it was fun as hell, and at just shy of ten-years-old it’s holding up pretty well.
Iron Man remains an endearing film not because of the modern blockbuster establishment it spawned or because of its kind of womanizing, Ed Hardy, hot-rod machismo and aesthetic, but because of the simple and compelling story it tells courtesy of screenwriters Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway.
Robert Downey Jr. is a powerhouse and his performance as Tony Stark has only gotten better since the first Iron Man, but since then we’ve seen Tony Stark show up in enough movies to know that RDJ alone does not ingratiate a Marvel film to audiences and fans. What makes Iron Man sing all these years down the line is the story of a person who had been afforded the privilege of coasting through life being forced to fight for survival and coming out the other end fundamentally changed.
Tony Stark is a man of inherent gifts to be sure, but he’s also a man born into circumstances that ask nothing of him or those gifts. When we meet Stark his genius is a like a party trick. At best it’s a hobby. It’s a cool thing he can do that helps him get by with style. He gets to tinker and invent because he likes it and he’s good at it and when you’re a billionaire you can do whatever the hell you want.
But in Iron Man, Tony Stark suddenly has to tinker and invent to survive. He has to tinker and invent or die. It’s a story about someone who’s given one last opportunity to be their best self and takes it, a story about offering the world one’s absolute best instead of just the bare minimum.
You spice that bad boy up with RDJ’s quips and Jeff Bridges and you got yourself a stew worth reheating to this very day.