Robert Downey Jr.
Underneath Iron Man’s armor is Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), heir to weapons manufacturer Stark Industries. On a business trip to Afghanistan, Stark witnesses (and is victim to) the damages his weapons are designed to inflict, prompting him to shut down the branch, much to the dismay of partner Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges).
Back home and with extra time off, Stark holes up in his shop building a new power supply for his heart (called an “arc reactor”) and perfecting the armored suit that helped him escape from the Afghani cave. Meanwhile, in the Stark office buildings, Stane plots to overthrow Stark.
And, as we know from nearly every comic book adaptation, this will all lead to a climactic battle in a location that endangers thousands of innocents. Iron Man isn’t shy about following the superhero movie paradigm (blanks have been filled in): Stark obtains his superpowers, constructs and evolves his trademark suit, hints at romance with colleague/friend Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, grapples with his inner demons scotch and women, and duels with newfound enemy Stane.
Some will find Iron Man commonplace because of this. But here’s where the movie separates itself from the rest: Robert Downey, Jr., an unlikely choice for superhero, brings depth and charisma to a flawed character, making Stark human, not a stand-in until he’s off to the rescue.
Marvel Comics’ Iron Man doesn’t have the exposure or prestige of Spider-Man (also Marvel) or Batman (DC Comics), but director Jon Favreau, the cast, and the likely-to-be-Oscar-nominated VFX team (composed mostly of Industrial Light & Magic wizards) have turned a comic book that most of the audience has no investment in into a success. With Iron Man 2 set for a first-quarter 2010, the team (sans the late Stan Winston) has their work cut out for them.
Deleted/Extended Scenes (24:01): There are 11 here, all but two of which feature Tony Stark/Iron Man. Many of these scenes are extendeds and add nothing significant to the story or character, but fans might be interested.
Also included is a promo for Iron Man: The Animated Series (set to air on Nicktoons in 2009) and Previews.
I Am Iron Man (1:48:55): This extensive seven-part documentary uses interviews (with key cast and crew) and behind-the-scenes footage to examine the evolution of Iron Man, from original ideas and filming to post-production and the premiere. Topics covered include storyboards/early computer effects, suit design, casting, editing, and much more.
The Invincible Iron Man (47:03): This six-part feature provides an overview of the development, traits, storylines, and success of Marvel’s Tony Stark/Iron Man, who made his first appearance in 1963. Those commenting include Stan Lee, artist Gene Colan, and author Warren Ellis, amongst others.
Wired: The Visual Effects of Iron Man (27:01): Though the VFX were touched upon in the “I Am Iron Man” documentary, this is a more in-depth look at the work put into creating the effects of Iron Man. Test footage and comments from the team are included.
Robert Downey, Jr. Screen Test (6:01): This footage from 2006 shows Downey, Jr. performing three scenes.
The Actor’s Process (4:10) contains footage of Robert Downey, Jr. and Jeff Bridges rehearsing a scene with director Jon Favreau.
Rounding out this “Ultimate 2-Disc Edition” are Galleries (Concept Art, Tech, Unit Photography, Posters) and a comedic “report” from satiric newspaper/network The Onion, titled ‘Wildly Popular Iron Man Trailer to be Adapted Into Full-Length Film.’