Written by Imran Mirza
The arrival of Disney+ in the UK has given me the opportunity to delve into something I’ve wanted to do for the past year – actually it’s been exactly a year as April 2019 saw the release of the MCU’s ‘Endgame’ which brought to conclusion a story that started in 2008 and was masterfully told over the course of 22 movies.
So existing in the midst of a quarantine and with an inexplicable refusal to get any sleep I figured let’s relive the magic of this ground-breaking experiment, chart the incredible journey of these characters and try to keep up with everyone who at one time or another was in possession of The Tesseract. With that said, spoiler-filled reviews start now…
I vividly remember the first time I heard that Marvel had set up a studio with the plan of releasing four standalone movies for Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America with the intention of bringing them together in a fifth ‘Avengers’ film. Now, I fully understand that Phase 1 was small fries compared to the scope of Phase 3 but it’s so important that people remember that nothing like Phase 1’s basic plan had ever been attempted before – characters from one film appearing in a completely different film was unimaginable back then. I mean, yes, Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy reprised their roles as Mortimer and Randolph Duke from ‘Trading Places’ (1983) appearing in a cameo in ‘Coming To America’ (1988) but, as cool as that was, probably wasn’t on the same level. (It was very cool though.)
The other thing I vividly remember was the announcement of Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark. Genius, I thought. Flawless casting. And that casting of an actor in a superhero role holds up against any since and there have certainly been some great ones but Downey’s Stark, for me, was the beating heart – or the beating Arc Reactor – of the MCU from this film going forward. ‘Iron Man’ has a strong reputation as being the catalyst for a successful MCU and while you may have strong memories of this being a good film – if it’s been some time since you last saw this – then I’d urge you to watch it again as it’s a great film that holds up against everything that came after it.
The arc that Tony’s character would go on to be defined by throughout his nine MCU appearances is established fairly early in his overall story – the desire to right his past wrongs, the desire to do all he can to protect those around him. And, yes, that desire in some ways slowly turns to obsession whereby some questionable decisions are made – namely his “suit of armour around the world” quest established in ‘Age of Ultron’ – but that’s what’s made Stark so compelling in that he wasn’t the goody-two-shoes hero; he retains the asshole-like characteristics that Stark begins the film with.
And now let’s talk about the suit. As films have progressed, we’ve seen the technology employed evolve at an incredible rate with the only limitations being that of Marvel’s imagination. From the lengthy time taken to put on/take off the armour in ‘Iron Man’ to the almost magical materialisation of it in ‘Infinity War’ has been an absolute joy to see develop over the years. It’s as though every film had to feature upgrades in some aspect be it the efficiency or the devastating arsenal at the suit’s disposal.
The final point that absolutely warrants a mention here is the fact that this movie also sparked the beginning of Marvel’s tradition and subsequent ownership of the post-credits scene – a trick I remember being distinctly unfamiliar with at the time so completely missed Nick Fury’s introduction upon my initial cinema screening of ‘Iron Man’. But these post-credits scenes have established themselves as such a staple of Marvel’s storytelling that in my mind, the most bizarre or rudest thing someone can do in the cinema is to leave as the credits start. I’m always overwhelmed with the desire to heckle people as they leave – but thankfully I never have.
Anyway, this is getting long and there’s another 21 movies to cover so I’ll wrap this up here even though there’s so much I didn’t get to talk about. We’ll be back fairly soon as we get to grips with ‘The Incredible Hulk’ in our next post.
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