At this point, it's kinda hard to imagine, but back in May, 2008, a lot of us were pretty much just looking forward to the next superhero title that may or may not fail. 'X-Men: The Last Stand' came out to overall disappointment in '06, and 'Spider-Man 3' did the same thing in 2007. It was time for Marvel to move on to different things. We saw photos and trailers for the upcoming 'Iron Man' movie, and opinions were a bit split. Some were looking forward to it, some weren't, and the hype just wasn't really in the air. But then, we all saw it, enjoyed it, and left the theater too early.
However, word of mouth got our asses back in those seats a second or third time, and we waited for that end credit scene that started it all, 10 years ago - a loose tease to the very possibility of an 'Avengers' movie! Of course, we now know how the rest of that story goes, and now here I am doing an all-out marathon of a total of 18 movies from what has been dubbed the "Marvel Cinematic Universe" in preparation for the culmination of it all, coming up late next month with 'Infinity War'! So, let's get into it, shall we?
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a wealthy weapons manufacturer, living with his lovely, loyal assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). After a test run of something called the Jericho Missile in Afghanistan, Stark's convoy is attacked by weapons of his own making, and he is taken prisoner by a terrorist organization known as the Ten Rings. A fellow captive and doctor named Yinsen (Shaun Toub) fits Stark with an electromagnet that keeps shrapnel from the attack away from his heart, keeping him alive. This eventually becomes the small arc reactor we all know and love. Anyway, Stark escapes by creating a mechanical suit under the guise of building the Jericho for the terrorists.
Once Tony gets back, he takes a bit of a publicity hit by telling the world that the manufacturing of weapons will ultimately be on hold until he figures out what he wants to do. The probability in his mind would be to look into clean and safe arc reactor technology. In the meantime, however, his experiences lead him to create the Iron Man suit, and he becomes the first superhero in the MCU, using it at first as a weapon against terrorists. However, his father's old partner, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) has other ideas in mind with this new technology.
This movie all holds up perfectly fine. It's a great tease to the audience to start everything off so grounded in reality. Some of the titles to come after this were a wonder to people because they were thought of as "not doable" - and this includes the actual 'Avengers' movie, by the way.
Speaking of which, 'The Avengers' is also teased here before the post-credit scene, which solidifies that it's what the studio is actually going for. Stark and Potts are followed around by Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) who just wants a moment of their time. But he does clearly state that he's from an organization called the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, which one can easily put together as SHIELD, which it becomes by the end of the movie, anyway. Of course, we just had no idea to what end it would go.
This is still a lot of fun to watch today. It's aged well, because it manages to blend it's elements well. It's often humorous, but just as often dramatic, and I still find myself routing for Stark throughout the film. That might mostly be based on the revenge story of his that was thrown in there, but it's probably the most badass scene in the whole movie, even in comparison to the climax. It's nice to see that it's withstood the test of time over the past 10 years. The next movie on the list, however, may not fare quite as well.
POST-CREDIT SCENE: There is a break-in at the Stark mansion. Tony, checking things out, comes across Director Nick Fury who lets him in on a secret project SHIELD has been working on called the "Avengers Initiative". This small scene was the spark that started it all.