H:5 Iron Man is perhaps the hero that has had the most development and change of any hero in the MCU. I remember watching this movie when my mom walked in the room and her complaining about how bad a guy Tony starts out as. I explained to her that his transformation is basically the point of the movie. This guy who starts off as a selfish womanizing jerk turns into a likable (although still rather arrogant) hero! You’d be hard pressed to find a character who changes as much as Tony does in this film, and Robert Downey Jr. plays it perfectly.
V:2 Yet another case of a weak villain saved by a wonderful actor. Obadiah Stane is far from being the most interesting villain. He’s another rather generic rich white guy with cool tech. Plus it fell into Hulk’s trap of “hero fighting a bigger version of themselves.” And murdering your friends son seems like a lot just to keep some shady business deals. But thanks to Jeff Bridges, this subpar villain did just well enough to give Tony something to fight against and become the hero we all love.
U:5 This was perhaps the first superhero movie that felt totally and completely grounded in reality. With previous films like Spider Man, the X-Men franchise, and any Superman film all feeling so comic-book-ish, it was remarkable to see a comic book character blend so effortlessly into the real world. And as great as The Dark Knight was (which was also released in 2008), it was hard to imagine the Joker being in our world. Meanwhile, Tony Stark was stuck in an Afghan cave while the US was actually involved in a war in the middle east.
S:5 The secondary characters of Iron Man are a big part of the film’s success. Gwyneth Paltrow’s portrayal of Pepper Potts hit the sweet spot: strong and confident enough to be her own person and not just a generic love interest, yet sweet and caring enough to make us realize how badly Tony needs her. Not to mention the debut of fan-favorite Clark Greg as Agent Coulson and the hilarious Jon Favreau, pulling double duty directing and playing Hogan. And, although Don Cheadle makes a great Rhodey, no one can deny that Terrence Howard did a wonderful job with the character while it was in his hands.
M:4 Perhaps it’s because this was Marvel’s first film, but it seems like Iron Man had so many memorable moments! The entire sequence in the caves was hugely memorable! From small hilarious moments of Tony testing his flight gear while yelling at his robots to Iron Man shooting a tiny little pea-shooter and blowing up a tank, there are lots of great moments to remember.
Final Score: 21 – It’s hard to believe that Marvel’s very first movie attempt would still hold strong in the top three movies after 12 more installments, each one with a bigger budget than the last. I remember the the trailers for Iron Man first came out and the robotic “I AM IRON MAN” rang through the theatre, and thinking, “Are you kidding me? How stupid.” Thank goodness I was wrong, because this movie single-handedly changed the landscape of cinema for decades to come by validating the biggest film franchise in history.