Iron Man was the first film from Marvel Studios (released by Paramount) and if Iron Man is any sign, Iâ€™m wholeheartedly looking forward to any future Marvel Studio releases.
Iâ€™ve enjoyed most of the Marvel film projects (even Daredevil, Ghost Rider, and Fantastic Four). I went to the theater with my son on opening night to see Iron Man and I was worried that it would not live up to the hype. I had seen so many previews and heard so many good things, surely there was nothing left for the film.
Luckily I was proven wrong. First and foremost, credit must be given to Robert Downey Jr. for owning the role of Tony Stark. From watching the documentary features on the DVD (more on that in a minute), part of this is in thanks to director Jon Favreau.
Downey Jr. brings a realness to his Tony Stark. Heâ€™s flamboyant, flippant, brilliant, and persuasive all at the same time. From watching the â€œmaking ofâ€ features, Favreau let the actors â€œliveâ€ in the role. He allowed them to ad-lib much of the conversational dialog, making it more realistic.
The second refreshing thing about the film is the driving point of the plot and the Tony Stark character. Heâ€™s did not stumble into his powers, he did not accidentally gain them, he doesnâ€™t create his suit (initially) for the betterment of mankind.
He creates the suit as a means of survival and continues developing it based on his changed personal beliefs. Heâ€™s not driven by a personal tragedy. Heâ€™s driven by the desire to do good, which in turn is driven by his personal need for forgiveness.
He battles with the death and destruction caused by his inventions and seeks forgiveness and approval for his change of heart. Rather than hide behind his mask of Iron Man, he lets his inner circle of friends in on the secret and makes no attempt to hide the fact. Itâ€™s the ultimate gratification.
Even more so than the Spider-Man series of films, the sequence of events showing Stark developing and perfecting his suits are fun. As a viewer, you feel his excitement and exasperation. Watch the first flight scene in the Mark II armor and Downey Jr. perfectly nails what it must feel like to fly in the Iron Man armor.
One more thing that makes this the most enjoyable Marvel movieâ€”to dateâ€”is the fact that itâ€™s the first movie set in the Marvel Universe. Since Iron Man (and Marvelâ€™s upcoming slate of filmsâ€”Thor, Captain America, Avengers) are Marvel properties, they can all be referenced in the film. There are hints of the larger Marvel Universe peppered throughout the filmâ€”and one major hint is revealed after the credits. If youâ€™re a long-time Marvel zombie, then these easter eggs will excite you. Non-fans will be able to enjoy them after they pay out in Marvelâ€™s future films.
So enough about the film. Itâ€™s good. You want the DVD, but what else is there to look forward to on the DVD. Glad you askedâ€¦
From the moment you put the DVD in, youâ€™re in for a treat. The menus on the DVD feature a CGI Iron Man navigating the features on the DVD using an on-screen interface similar to the one Stark uses in the movie. From there, you can access the content.
The movie looks spectacular â€“ presented in anamorphic widescreen. The colors are bright, but not over-saturated. There are no complaints on the video. The same can be said for the audio. Itâ€™s a great 5.1 surround mix that has emphasis and punch when needed, but keeps the vocals front and center when they need to be.
Also on the first disc are 11 deleted scenes (24 minutes). As with most deleted scenes, you see why they were deleted. Most were unnecessary filler that played up Starkâ€™s playboy nature or extended scenes that were easily convey in shorter segments (Starkâ€™s capture, Starkâ€™s return).
However, there are two scenes that add a bit to the plot. The first involves Rhodes (Terrence Howard) continuing his search for Stark. Not only does it show the length he would go to save his friend, it also highlights his status in the military and with his superiors.
The second scene is an extended sequence at Starkâ€™s house in Dubai, India. This impromptu party serves as a cover for his return to destroy the rebels that captured him in Afghanistan. There is once scene in particular when Stark leaves three women waiting in his bedroom as he dons his armor and flies away â€“ leaving the rest of the guests assuming heâ€™s retired for the night with his companions. Itâ€™s a great example of Stark using his perceived playboy image to cover his tracks.
Also included on the first disc is a preview for the Nicktoons 2009 Iron Man animated series featuring a younger take on Tony Stark. It looks interesting and if it is half as good as The Spectacular Spider-Man then Iâ€™ll be watching.
There are previews for the J.J. Abrams Star Trek film and Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull included.
If you move your DVD remote to the space between the â€œPreviewsâ€ and â€œMain Menuâ€ option, you will see an icon that plays a short clip of Stan Lee talking about Iron Man and talking to Downey Jr.
Disc two contains the meat of the special features and the first is the almost 2-hour documentary â€œI Am Iron Manâ€ on making the film.
Spread across seven parts, this is a detailed look at making the film that starts before the first frame was shot and ends shortly before the premiere. Itâ€™s engrossing and youâ€™ll immediately pick up on the comradery of the cast and crew and the enthusiasm Downey Jr. has for the role of Iron Man/Tony Stark.
The next piece of content is the 47-minute feature â€œThe Invincible Iron Manâ€ that traces to comic book origins of the character. Featuring interviews with Stan Lee, Gene Colan, John Romita Jr. and other creators associated with Iron Man over the years, itâ€™s an exhaustive look at the characters many comic book forms.
A third feature, the 27-minute â€œWired: The Visual Effects of Iron Manâ€ focuses on the three effects houses that contributed to the Iron Man film. While the bulk of the feature shows ILM (and rightly so), itâ€™s nice to see the smaller companies get noticed for their interface design and Mark I armor work.
The remain video features are a screen test with Robert Downey Jr., the progression of a scene featuring Downey Jr, Bridges, and Favreau, and the video short from online magazine The Onion entitled â€œWildly Popular Iron Man Trailer to be Adapted into a Full-Length Filmâ€. Itâ€™s all fun stuff worth checking out.
Iâ€™m not a fan of art galleries on DVDâ€™s, but this one has a great section of art from all phases of the film. Especially worth checking out are the Concept Art and Tech sections.
Overall, itâ€™s a near perfect package of DVD Extras and film.
My one complaint â€“ no commentary from Favreau, Downey Jr. or anyone else associated with the film. Iâ€™m guessing weâ€™ll see that on the new edition that will inevitably be released before Iron Man 2 in 2010.