Written by: Mark Fergus, Matt Holloway, Art Marcum & Hawk Ostby, based on characters created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Don Heck & Larry Lieber Directed by: Jon Favreau Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Farin Tahir.
“I Am Iron Man” making-of docu
“The Invincible Iron Man” docu about the history of the character in comics
“Wired: The Visual Effects of Iron Man“
Robert Downey Jr. screen test
“The Actor’s Process” rehearsal footage
“The Onion News Network” special report
Released by: Marvel/Paramount Region: 1 Rating: PG-13 Anamorphic: Yes
My Advice: Own it.
My opinion of the film hasn’t changed. You can see my Iron Man full review here. The filmmakers set out to do justice to the character of Iron Man, which is something Marvel hasn’t been able to do for a while now. And in the process, the completely turned around the Marvel movie machine. Seriously, we’re all happy now, but think about how things would have been different for Marvel had this film not worked. Incredible Hulk, despite not being completely despised by critics and making some decent money worldwide, isn’t discussed. It’s odd for a summer tentpole to be such a non-entity, especially when it made money. But considering the suckfest it had to overcome, I think it was all that film could do to throw off the shite that was its Ang Lee-driven predecessor.
So, really, it all came down to this film for Marvel to flourish as its own cinematic entity. And isn’t it amazing when you get the right people involved how the right movie just sort of…happens? And let it be said that Marvel better kiss the ass of Robert Downey Jr. from now until eternity. Because he did for this film what Johnny Depp did for Pirates: people who couldn’t pick Iron Man out of a line-up suddenly raised their eyebrows and got interested. And he delivered. The film works because of Downey and that’s why you’ve got two more films already lined up.
Okay, enough about how pleased I was by the film. The DVD is not the end-all, be-all of releases, I’m certain. There’s probably a three-disc coming, but whether or not that’s for some holiday season in 2009 or right before the sequel hits, who can say? I just know that they have to include the one glaring omission here: a Favreau/Downey commentary. That’s the major disappointment of the disc–that and one other bit we’ll get to in a minute–but beyond that, most of the rest is solid.
The “I Am Iron Man” docu is excellent, taking you from one end to the other of shooting the film. Plenty of behind the scenes footage and plenty of time with the actors. Some of the highlights include time with the late great Stan Winston, jokingly talking about how little he actually does that’s hands-on anymore. There’s also Paltrow talking about how she and Downey were so pleased to be in a movie people were actually going to see. Then there’s Bridges talking about how he went about getting some armor and also losing his hair. Also of great interest is the work that went into the suit–both CG and in-camera. I also love the bit where they talk about dealing with sandstorms during the desert sequences, and how they turned lemons into lemonade by using the conditions to their advantage. And I remember wondering, “Wow…that is the most amazing looking sandstorm” during the second sequence. Go figure.
Next comes “The Invincible Iron Man,” which is a fairly detailed look at Tony Stark’s life in comics. It goes from his gold Mark I beginnings to his most recent Extremis version. The creators are all well represented, with the exception of scribes Charles and Daniel Knauf. As a father and son team, they talk way more about their dynamic as working together than I care to know. We’re glad you seem to be taking advantage of Marvel’s stance of hiring anyone from another medium as a writer, but it’s an opportunity to write Iron Man, not save money on therapy and talk about how son Charles is learning so much from the experience. Yawn.
After that you’ve got “Wired,” which deals with all the FX that went into making it real, to even more of an extent than they had in the “I Am Iron Man.” This is where you can rightfully geek about what the various companies did. A personal favorite of mine is the lengthy discussion of what went into Stark’s Heads Up Display (HUD), since I’ve always dug those. Hell, I miss the one I used to have in my Pontiac Grand Prix. Why that feature never caught on is beyond me. Also something that you wouldn’t normally appreciate unless it’s pointed out: ILM’s work to make the CG metal match the real metal for shine. Nice.
There’s some other small bits, including Downey’s screen test. Which is nice to have because you can see from the get-go what I’m talking about. He’s able to sell lines that have no business sounding good coming out of a real actor’s mouth. But you buy it, because he’s bought it. Then there’s a bit of rehearsal footage between Bridges and Downey where they’re trying to piece together how to play a scene. It’s very short but it gives you a glimpse at their process, which was apparently very free-form. You’ve also got a series of deleted/extended sequences that are interesting to have for posterity, but ultimately you can see why they were cut. The includes an entire Dubai sequence that was used, I presume, as a front for Iron Man’s overseas fun–but was completely unnecessary. And lastly, an amusing bit from The Onion about “adapting” the popular movie trailer into a full-blown film.
Oh, galleries. I almost forgot. First, they need a “Play All” option. For example, I go through three Afghan Cave pics and then I’m having to back out to the Gallery menu to get to the next series of pics. This also negates the need to explain to me again how to move through the galleries, since I might have forgotten in the fifteen seconds it took me to get through the previous gallery. The paucity of gallery images is something else that leads me to believe there’s some kind of uber-mongo version coming out, because while I realize that we spend a lot of time dealing with the suit in the video special features, this thing had a metric fuckton of production art. So where is it? I also have the same problem that some of my cohorts here have: when you have people in images, and you have no context or even identification for some of them–what’s the use of them? Downey and Favreau we recognize–who the hell are these other people? If they’re worth having pictures of, they’re worth having their names up on the screen. Come on.
As one side note, it’s interesting that the Iron Monger concept art is labeled “Crimson Dynamo.” I would love to have seen how this went from a Mandarin-dominated script to Dynamo to Iron Monger.
The two-disc set is worthy. Worthy film with a good rewatch factor and a significant amount of special features to make it worth buying. I’m sure there will be the aforementioned uber mongo three-disc set or something at some point in the future, but as long as they include a commentary and even more behind the scenes goodness, then nobody should feel ashamed about buying both. It’s $23 on Amazon as I type this–which is less money than you’d spend on two comic book trade paperbacks. And a better product in a lot of cases. So.