Countdown to Avengers Endgame: Iron Man
We’re in the Endgame now. Just 20 days to go before Marvel Studios unleashes the biggest theatrical event in a generation (if not ever), capping off a story that is 11 years and 21 films in the making. There’s no denying that what Marvel has done here is unprecedented. As we approach the big day lets take a look back at the films that lead us here.
Iron man… In 2008 if you had told any comic fan that not only would Marvel films be dominating the box office (for a decade) but that it would be Iron Man that lead to charge they would have laughed in your face. Even the very idea of an Iron Man film seemed laughable at the time. Die hard Marvel fans knew Tony Stark aka Iron Man well but outside of the Black Sabbath song of the same name, household recognition was minimal. Yet here we are.
There is little I can say about Iron Man that hasn’t been said in the decade since. So rather than review it outright I am looking at it as the first chapter of what lead us to Endgame. In that regard it is pretty remarkable how many things that we consider staples of Marvel films were there from the start (made even more notable by the fact the next two outings, Incredible Hulk and Iron man 2 diverged in some ways). Taking bright and color comic costumes and making them work in film while still feeling true to the source material? Check. Protagonist that fire off “quippy,” dialogue on the regular? Check. Big, impressive set pieces that bring out your inner child? Double check. Hell even the end credits title sequence and the after credits stinger got their start in Iron Man.
What’s the most impressive is that Iron Man still holds up. Yes, the hero origin story and “same but different” villain has become a cliche but they aren’t all played by Robert Downy Jr. or Jeff Bridges respectively. It doesn’t hurt that the soundtrack is killer and it’s just an all around well made movie. Further, while an origin story Tony donning armor for the first time feels earned (it is over 30 minutes before Tony Stark puts on armor for the first time in the cave and it is bore out of necessity). Doesn’t hurt that even after 11 years the film still looks great too.
What matters most for the greater story however is what Iron Man establishes from the start in the character of Tony Stark. Tony is forced to not only confront his own immortality but the realization that his actions, both direct and indirect has consequences that are far reaching. Tony Stark will spend every subsequent film putting the weight of the world on his shoulders as he views himself personally responsible for protecting it. “There is nothing except this… There is the next mission and nothing else.” Tony says this to Pepper explaining the weight he now carries having faced the consequences of his own actions. At first Tony refuses to see a no-win scenario (believing he can always find a solution) only to have the events of Avengers shake him to his core. After which his immense guilt for those who he didn’t (or couldn’t) save has a direct impact on all of the events that lead to Avengers, Ultron, Civil War, Infinity War and of course Endgame. No one character has had greater impact on the MCU (except, perhaps, Nick Fury).
They struck gold with Iron Man and even if they stumbled the next couple of outings Marvel figured out the template to success and kept to it. Well mostly.
Next we take a look at Marvel’s black sheep, The Incredible Hulk.