9 years ago, today in fact, on May 2, 2008, we saw what would become the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the release of Iron Man. At that time, comic book movies were nothing new, they’ve been cranking out movies based on superheroes almost as long as comic books have been around. But little did we know at the time that this movie would spawn something unlike anything else we’d seen.
Before Marvel attempted this grand vision, each comic book movie existed in it’s own little world, the X-Men movies were in a world where the only superheroes were the X-Men, same with Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and Blade. I liked to imagine that they were all connected in hidden ways, and tried to piece together a timeline of events for this cinematic universe.
I’d gotten so used to this unconnected stuff that in my initial review of the movie over at Smart-Popcorn.com ( http://www.smart-popcorn.com/reviews/1768/ ) I’d mentioned the Easter eggs to be found in the movie as just that, fun tidbits for comic fans but nothing more than that.
What’s great to see, watching this movie again 9 years later, and knowing the future events of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is that the facts still check out. You can see in the opening Tony Stark intro montage that his parents were indeed killed on December 16, 1991. A date which was perhaps arbitrary at the time, but after the events of Captain America: Civil War, it holds more meaning now.
The movie as a stand-alone movie still holds up as well, I’d forgotten though how little of Iron Man we get in this movie, as he doesn’t even get the full suit put together until well over an hour into the movie. Robert Downey Jr is so charismatic in this role that you barely even notice it. The movie establishes the world very well, even in small details that I didn’t catch before until now, such as a Roxxon building visible during the Iron Monger fight near the climax of the film. * Roxxon is an oil company in the Marvel Universe, who’s board members have been known from time to time to turn out to be villains, as we saw in the Agent Carter tv series, or as comic book readers know)*
The movie is very much a product of it’s time though, mid 2000s, when Myspace was still a thing, and the real world tech that’s used is very dated by this point, including this weird video cell phone thing that Tony has early in the movie, technology has improved a lot in the years since this movie.
Tech aside though, the performances all still hold up, and I enjoy Terrence Howard in his role as James Rhodes. We never got to see what it’d be like with him as War Machine in the sequels due to money disputes, but for his intro role he does a great job here.
In an age now where we get up to three Marvel movies a year now, and DC doing their own cinematic universe in their own way, it can be easy to take this stuff for granted, and we wouldn’t have any of this if not for Iron Man, released nearly ten years ago, today.