Re-Reviewed: Iron Man kicked off the MCU in style

IRON MAN - For Disneyphiles everywhere, Freeform will air beloved Disney classics from "Disney-Pixar's Toy Story" to "Disney's The Jungle Book (2016)" and everything in between during the month of September as they celebrate "30 Days of Disney." (Marvel)
IRON MAN - For Disneyphiles everywhere, Freeform will air beloved Disney classics from "Disney-Pixar's Toy Story" to "Disney's The Jungle Book (2016)" and everything in between during the month of September as they celebrate "30 Days of Disney." (Marvel) /

Iron Man’s arrival changed superhero movies forever. We look back on where the MCU all began.

In 2008, Marvel changed the game with Iron Man. What fans didn’t realize at the time was this movie was the beginning of a new status quo for superhero movies. Even more important, they didn’t know this was a must win scenario that would change the entire entertainment industry, introducing us to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Iron Man suits up

Iron Man’s comic book debut happened in the pages of Tales of Suspense #39. His original story saw him injured and captured in Vietnam, then creating the first Iron Man suit to survive. This story was adapted for the era in the movie, changing the scene from Vietnam to the Middle East.

What didn’t change was the man in the suit. Tony has always been depicted as an incredibly rich, incredibly brilliant playboy who has issues with alcohol and womanizing. But being a hero helped him learn and grow as a person. To an extent, of course.

The character would go on to found the Avengers alongside Thor, Hulk, Wasp and Ant-Man. Eventually, he would kick off his own solo series in 1968. The first volume of that title would establish the building blocks of the Iron Man fans know today.

Marvel Studios steps up

Marvel Comics was no stranger to the big screen by the time Iron Man hit theaters in 2008. But outside of a few select franchises like Blade, Spider-Man and X-Men, movies based on their characters were largely duds.

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What made Iron Man different was that it was produced by Marvel Studios. Other studios tried to make movies with the character over the years, but Marvel reacquired the film rights in 2006. Jon Favreau signed on as the director shortly after that.

Favreau quickly set his sights on Robert Downey Jr. to play the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man but he reputedly found resistance from the studio. RDJ’s career was in a bit of a lull at that point. Favreau stuck to his guns and the casting was thankfully confirmed.

Iron Man debuts on the big screen

Iron Man
SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 14: Actor Robert Downey Jr. participates in Marvel Studios – “Iron Man 3” Panel – Comic-Con International 2012 held at San Diego Convention Center on July 14, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images) /

On May 2nd, 2008, Iron Man hit theaters in the United States and a legend was born. Marvel Studios was praised for a producing a great story that honored its comic book origins while creating something accessible to anyone.

RDJ shone in the role of Tony Stark, as did the vast majority of the cast. Gwyneth Paltrow, Shaun Toub and Jeff Bridges all played their roles brilliantly. Though Terrence Howard was great as James Rhodes, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Don Cheadle playing him at this point.

The movie hit all of the right notes. It was an excellent balance of story and character, and worked in some truly excellent action sequences. It also had a superb mix of both CGI and practical SFX, which served the subject matter well.

The legacy of Iron Man

RDJ and Iron Man may be retired from the MCU at the moment, but without that first movie there wouldn’t have been an MCU. Had Iron Man failed, that would have made additional MCU films being produced that much less likely.

The post-credit scene with Samuel L. Jackson’s first appearance as Nick Fury announced the creation of a team called the Avengers. It also announced Marvel Studios’ vision for something much bigger than any fan could have hoped for.

Iron Man was the beginning of a universe of movies and TV shows sharing one consistent narrative that had never been done before on this scale. Once Disney bought Marvel, those efforts only continued to ramp up.

With Disney’s acquisition of Fox’s assets, a huge swath of new characters are suddenly in play. Disney Plus has allowed for the creation of inventive new TV series using this incredible array of characters. And none of this would have been possible without Iron Man.

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Are you a fan of Iron Man? What is your favorite MCU movie? Let us know in the comments below!