Iron Man is a 2008 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Directed by Jon Favreau, the film stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, an industrialist and master engineer who builds a powered exoskeleton and becomes the technologically advanced superhero, Iron Man. Gwyneth Paltrow plays his personal assistant Pepper Potts, Terrence Howard plays military liaison James Rhodes and Jeff Bridges plays Stark Industries executive Obadiah Stane.
The film was in development since 1990 at Universal Studios, 20th Century Fox, and New Line Cinema, before Marvel Studios reacquired the rights in 2006. Marvel put the project in production as its first self-financed film. Favreau signed on as director, aiming for a naturalistic feel, and he chose to shoot the film primarily in California, rejecting the East Coast setting of the comics to differentiate the film from numerous superhero films set in New York City-esque environments. During filming, the actors were free to create their own dialogue because pre-production was focused on the story and action. Rubber and metal versions of the armors, created by Stan Winston’s company, were mixed with computer-generated imagery to create the title character. Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures, the distributor, planned a $50 million marketing campaign for the film, which was modeled on Paramount’s successful promotion of Transformers; Hasbro and Sega sold merchandise, and product placement deals were made with Audi, Burger King, LG and 7-Eleven. It Released on DVD & Blu-Ray Friday, November 14, 2008.
Reviews were very positive, particularly praising Downey’s performance. Downey, Favreau and Paltrow returned in the sequel Iron Man 2, scheduled for release on May 7, 2010. Downey also made a cameo appearance as Stark in The Incredible Hulk. The MPAA has given this film a PG-13 rating for Some Intense Sequences of Sci-Fi Action and Violence, and Brief Suggestive Content.
Tony Stark is the head of Stark Industries, a major military contracting company he inherited from his deceased father. Stark is an inventive genius and wunderkind; however, he is also a playboy. Tony acts as a figurehead for his company while his father’s old partner, Obadiah Stane, takes care of day-to-day operations.
Stark flies off to war-torn Afghanistan with his friend and military liaison, Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes, for a demonstration of Stark’s new weapon, the “Jericho” missile. On the way back, however, Stark’s military convoy is attacked, and he is critically wounded and loses consciousness. After coming to, Tony finds himself the prisoner of a terrorist group known as the Ten Rings. An electromagnet has been embedded in his chest by fellow captive Dr. Yinsen to keep shrapnel from working its way to his heart and killing him. The Ten Rings leader, Raza, offers Stark his freedom in exchange for building a Jericho missile for him.
Instead, during his three months of captivity, Tony and Yinsen secretly build a crude suit of armor powered by a miniature “arc reactor”, which Tony builds to power his electromagnet. The terrorists finally grow impatient and give Stark 24 hours to finish. The deadline expires before the suit is fully activated, so Yinsen distracts the guards while Tony powers up the suit. The now-armored Stark battles his way out of the caves. Stark then finds a dying Yinsen, who tells him not to waste his life. Stark burns all the terrorists munitions and then flies away, only to crash in the desert; Stark survives, but his suit is destroyed. After being rescued by Rhodes, Stark announces that his company will no longer manufacture weapons. Stane advises Tony that this may ruin Stark Industries.
Stark begins focusing his energies on building an improved version of his suit as well as a more powerful arc reactor for his chest. After upgrading his reactor, Stark’s assistant, Virginia “Pepper” Potts, gives him back his first reactor now encased in glass as a gift. Later, during Stark’s first public appearance after his return, he is accosted by a reporter who shows him pictures of Stark Industries weapons recently delivered to the Ten Rings. Enraged, Stark dons his new armor and flies to Afghanistan. The Ten Rings fighters prove no match for Stark and are quickly dispatched. While flying home, Stark is shot at by United States Air Force fighter aircraft. He contacts Rhodes and reveals his secret identity in an attempt to get the attack called off, but manages to escape on his own.
Stark sends Pepper to hack into the company computer system. She discovers that Stane has been supplying terrorists with Stark weaponry and hired the Ten Rings to kill Stark, but the group reneged on the deal upon discovering who the target was. She later meets with Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D., a counter-terrorism agency, to inform him of Stane’s activities.
Stane visits the Ten Rings and, after obtaining the pieces of the destroyed first suit, has them eliminated. Stane then reverse engineers his own suit from Tony’s first. However, his scientists are unable duplicate Stark’s arc reactor. Undeterred, Stane ambushes Stark in his house, using a device to paralyze him. Stane removes the arc reactor from Stark’s chest and leaves him to die. However, Stark manages to get to and re-install his original reactor. Meanwhile, Potts and several S.H.I.E.L.D. agents go to arrest Stane, only to be attacked by him in his now functional suit.
Stark races to the rescue but is outmatched by Stane, as his old reactor is underpowered for his current suit. He manages to lure Stane atop the Stark Industries building and instructs Potts to overload the full-sized arc reactor in the building. This unleashes a massive electrical surge that knocks Stane unconscious and sends him falling through the ceiling into the reactor, killing him.
The next day, it is revealed that the press has dubbed the mystery person as “Iron Man”. Before speaking at a press conference, Stark briefly makes an attempt to establish a romantic relationship with Potts, but is rebuffed. Stark starts to tell the cover story given to him by S.H.I.E.L.D., but then announces openly that he is Iron Man.
In a post-credits scene, Stark is visited by S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury who notes that Stark is not “the only superhero in the world” and states he wants to discuss the “Avenger Initiative”.