Ten Years of Iron Man
Ten years ago, on May 2nd, 2008, Robert Downey Jr. took flight into theaters as Iron Man and changed the world of comic book movies forever. Iron Man was not only a well-received stand alone movie, but also initiated the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie was also the highest rated MCU film on Rotten Tomatoes for nearly ten years, until it was surpassed by Black Panther only a few months ago. Additionally, and probably most importantly, the film turned Iron Man, a relatively unpopular comic book character, into one of the most iconic Marvel superheroes of the 21st century. 2008’s Iron Man is an essential point in superhero history, and for many reasons it remains my favorite movie in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In Iron Man, Tony Stark is initially an arrogant weapons dealer with no cares in the world, but his transformation after being captured by the terrorists in Afghanistan is an inspiring moment of heroism. With his newfound friendship with Ho Yinsen, another captive, Stark learns humility and self-sacrifice, and he is reborn as a man who sees the importance of being accountable for his actions. When Yinsen sacrifices himself and buys Stark enough time to finish starting up the first version of the Iron Man suit, Tony soon finds a dying Yinsen and tells him, “Thank you for saving me.” Yinsen warns Stark not to waste his life, and the hero behind the armor is born. Iron Man is possibly the greatest superhero redemption story, as once Stark escapes captivity, he vows to protect the people that he put in harm’s way. The flaws of Tony Stark not only made it more inspiring when he would save people from his own weapons and mistakes, but his story also served as inspiration for MCU films to come.
While most of the films in the MCU have been successes in their own right, many lack the originality that made Iron Man so enjoyable. Sometimes I can’t help but feel that many Marvel movies seem formulaic in their writing. Maybe it’s because the audience’s expectations in a Marvel movie have risen since Iron Man’s release, making disappointment come more easily. However, I don’t think that’s the case, due to the fact that Iron Man is still regarded by many as one of Marvel’s best films. Each character is interesting and serves their purpose, and the story never slows down. It’s a story about a man who realizes that his carelessness leads to death and destruction around the world, and a near-death experience forges him into a hero. I never get tired of watching the movie, or listening to the soundtrack. Call it bias, but I believe Iron Man is such a timeless superhero story because Jon Favreau directed a movie that has much more heart than it does your everyday superhero fights, which are still awesome in this movie nonetheless.
Ten years ago, it was Iron Man‘s success that made it possible for the world to see the Avengers assemble on the big screen. You can rewatch Robert Downey Jr.’s first armored adventure to honor what the film achieved.