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The trilogy that started the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Iron Man

posted May 3, 2016, 5:58 PM by Jeffrey Wolf

By: Robby Timmler, Staff Writer

Posted May 3rd, 2016

During the early 2000’s, Marvel movies were considered terrible by critics, David Ansen (from Newsweek) commenting, “Torn between moody grandiosity and cartoonish mayhem, Daredevil tries to have it both ways, and succeeds at neither”. Not only were these movies received negatively by critics, but by Marvel fans as well. That was, until May 2nd, 2008 when Iron Man was released.

Iron Man is the story of billionaire genius weapon-designer Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr). Stark is ambushed by an Iraqi terrorist group after presenting his newest weapon,The Jericho Missile, to the U.S. army’s Iraqi unit. In the ambush, Stark gets caught in an explosion, and shrapnel gets into his chest, and this results in Stark being brought back to the terrorist’s cave. Stark is then operated on by Yinsen (played by Shaun Toub), a prisoner of the terrorist group who was previously a doctor in his town. Yinsen installs an arc reactor in Stark’s chest that helps keep the shrapnel from reaching his heart. The terrorist group asks Stark to build The Jericho Missile for them using  weapons that were used against Stark in their ambush, but instead, Stark decides to use this as an opportunity to build a suit of iron that could help him escape from the terrorist group. After Stark’s escape the audience is introduced to Pepper Potts--Tony’s personal assistant (played by Gwyneth Paltrow), Happy Hogan--Tony’s driver (played by Jon Favreau), Rhodey--Tony’s friend and army connection (played by Terrence Howard) , Obadiah Stane--Vice President of Tony’s Company (played by Jeff Bridges), and Jarvis--Tony’s digital servant (voiced by Paul Bettany). Iron Man was a game changer for Marvel because people thought that a comic book movie couldn’t be clever and funny at the same time, but they were proven wrong. While being a good film, Iron Man also was the first in setting up The Avengers with cameos from S.H.I.E.L.D Agent Coulson (played by Clark Gregg) and S.H.I.E.L.D Director Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson).

Two years later, Tony Stark returns in Iron Man 2 (2010), which deals with the world seeing Iron Man in action. Unfortunately, people begin wondering if Iron Man is really a threat or not. That’s when Russian physicist Ivan Vanko, aka Whiplash, (played by Mickey Rourke) uses Stark’s Iron Man technology to power his own invention of electric whips. Stark’s father stole Vanko’s father’s plans for the Arc Reactor. The rival of Tony’s company, Justin Hammer (played by Sam Rockwell) enlists Ivan to make an army of Iron Man soldiers for the military. While that’s going on it’s discovered that the Arc Reactor in Tony Stark’s chest is also killing him, thus Stark has to find another way to stay alive. Beloved characters from the first Iron Man return, such as Pepper Potts--who is now CEO of Stark Industries, Happy Hogan, Rhodey (now played by Don Cheadle because of a falling out between Robert Downey Jr. and Terrence Howard), and Jarvis. However, new characters, such as Natalie Romanoff--aka Black Widow--an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (played by Scarlett Johansson) are introduced. Iron Man 2 is a very cluttered film, trying but somewhat failing to deal with all the characters, the subplots, and the action scenes. This makes the film’s story seems unfocused and ultimately hard to follow.

Iron Man eventually returned in The Avengers (2012) and again in Iron Man 3 (2013), where Tony Stark is now experiencing anxiety attacks because of the what he went through at the end of The Avenger. Amidst Stark’s inner turmoil, Happy is injured in a bombing by a terrorist known as The Mandarin (played by Ben Kingsley), which encourages the government to form a hunting party--led by Rhodey, aka Iron Patriot--with the sole purpose of stopping The Mandarin. Stark eventually gets involved trying to find The Mandarin, and stop him from attacking again. Stark’s enemies that he has ignored, such as Aldrich Killian--Pepper’s ex boyfriend/bioengineer (played by Guy Pearce) and Maya Hansen--Tony’s ex girlfriend/botanist that work for The Mandarin (played by Rebecca Hall) return in this third film. Iron Man 3 has great action scenes and character development throughout the movie.