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Thursday Treasures

May 2, 2013

Iron Man in Film

By Kelvin Cedeno

Iron Man Recap

In 2008, who would've known a film about a superhero mainstream audiences weren't too familiar with would become the second highest grossing film of the year? Such was the case when Jon Favreau's Iron Man was released. The combination of Favreau's light-yet-grounded direction and star Robert Downey Jr.'s razor sharp wit made for a refreshing comic book film, one that was neither too campy nor too pretentious. The success was continued with 2010's Iron Man 2 and then magnified several times over in the 2012 juggernaut otherwise known as The Avengers. Now, the character of Tony Stark returns to his own isolated franchise with Iron Man 3. Whether you need a refresher course, have never seen any of the character's films, or simply want to get into the mood before seeing the new film, here's a recap of the aforementioned motion pictures featuring the invincible Iron Man.

Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man Recap

Anthony Edward Stark is (as he likes to put it) a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist who also goes by the name of Tony. After his father Howard's death, Tony takes over Stark Industries, the most advanced and prestigious weapons manufacturer in the United States. One day, during a demonstration of the Jericho missile, the military base is attacked by terrorists, and Tony's captured in the process. It turns out the weapons used to attack the base came from none other than Stark Industries, and the terrorists work for a mysterious, worldwide organization known as the Ten Rings. Shrapnel has lodged itself into Tony's chest right next to his heart, but with the help of fellow prisoner Yinsen, Tony creates a magnet called an arc reactor that keeps the shrapnel at bay. The Ten Rings want him to build them a duplicate of the Jericho missile, but he and Yinsen instead set to work on a suit of armor that can help them escape. Tony succeeds, but Yinsen is killed.

Tony comes back home a changed man, and disturbed by seeing where his weapons have ended up, decides to repurpose Stark Industries for something else. Obadiah Stane, Howard Stark's business partner, is concerned about this change and convinces the board of directors to push Tony out. This is of little concern to Tony as he develops an advanced version of the suit and uses it to destroy all of the Stark Industries weapons located at the Ten Rings base where he was captured. He confides in only two people about this project: his best friend James 'Rhodey' Rhodes and his secretary Virginia 'Pepper'Potts.

When he finds out Stane has been double dealing under the table with the Ten Rings, Tony has Pepper investigate files that can expose Stane. What Pepper finds, however, is much worse. Stane is not only selling weapons to the Ten Rings: he's the one who ordered the hit on Tony to begin with, not expecting him to survive and be captured. It turns out Stane is working on his own version of the suit based on the blueprints from Tony's first one used to escape the cave. The two of them battle, and Stane dies. The public nature of the duel causes the press to wonder who the 'Iron Man' was, and Tony comes right out and admits he is Iron Man. He's visited by Nick Fury, director of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division (otherwise known as S.H.I.E.L.D.) about an intriguing proposition.

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man Recap

Six months after the events of the first film, Tony opens the Stark Expo, a year-long inventor's exposition inspired by one his father had organized in the 1970s. A great many things are troubling him as of late. The government is concerned about the Iron Man suit and feels it needs to be turned over to them. To make matters worse, Tony is dying. The arc reactor is poisoning his blood, and he's yet to find a suitable replacement element his body can tolerate. He appoints Pepper as C.E.O. of Stark Industries and decides to live out his last days doing whatever he pleases.

While participating in a Monaco race, Tony's attacked by Anton Vanko whose father was Howard Stark's former collaborator. Vanko feels the arc reactor technology was rightfully his father's to patent and is determined to show that not only is Tony inept in the suit, but that the technology can be easily mass marketed. He teams up with Tony's rival Justin Hammer, another weapons manufacturer. After a disastrous birthday party in which Tony nearly kills himself and his guests with the suit, Rhodey steps in and takes the Mark II armor to the government for inspection. Nick Fury knows of Tony's condition even though Pepper and Rhodey don't, and he gives him Howard's research concerning the arc reactor. In the midst of it, Tony finds that Howard had discovered a new element but didn't have the capability of materializing it. Tony does so, and it turns out to be a perfect substitute for his new arc reactor.

At the Stark Expo, Hammer shows up with the Iron Man prototypes designed for government use, including a modified version of the Mark II armor which Rhodey showcases. It turns out, though, that the prototypes aren't suits: they're robots designed by Vanko to destroy everyone at the Expo, mainly Tony. Together, Tony and Rhodey fight off the drones, Hammer is arrested, and Vanko (who developed his own armor) is killed. Pepper gives Tony back the C.E.O. position, and the two officially become a couple. The government honors Tony as a national hero, and Fury hires Tony as a consultant for S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Consultant (2011)

Iron Man Recap

In the first of Marvel's 'One-Shot' short film series, S.H.I.E.L.D. is concerned that the government is forcing them to bring Emil Blonsky on the team. Blonsky had taken the super soldier serum that at first increased his stamina but later mutilated him into a creature known as the Abomination. Agents Phil Coulson and Jasper Sitwell hatch a plan where they have a consultant show up who so infuriates General Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross that he'll refuse to give over Blonsky to S.H.I.E.L.D.. The consultant in question is, of course, Tony, and the plan is a success.

The scene of Tony and Ross in this short film was actually a final coda from 2008's The Incredible Hulk, but when Joss Whedon modified the Hulk's involvement in The Avengers from what Marvel originally had in mind, this short film was devised to help smoothen out continuity.

The Avengers (2012)

Iron Man Recap

Now in perfect health and in a stable relationship with Pepper, Tony focuses his efforts on creating Stark Tower, a monumental building running on clean energy. He's notified by S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Phil Coulson that he's needed in an urgent mission. S.H.I.E.L.D. has been investigating a cosmic cube known as a tesseract which can unleash unlimited power. Howard Stark had uncovered it in the ocean, and its power had been used by H.Y.D.R.A. (the scientific division of the Nazis) in World War II. An alien from the realm of Asgard named Loki has stolen the cube and plans on using it to help rule the earth with the help of an alien race known as the Chitauri.

Nick Fury brings Tony together with several other members in hopes of forming a team known as the Avengers. Others in this group include Loki's foster brother Thor Odinson (who can summon lightning and thunder using a mystical hammer called Mjolnir), Steve Rogers (a World War II icon known as Captain America who's the only successful result of the super soldier serum), gamma radiation expert Bruce Banner (who performed an experiment on himself that causes him to mutate into a creature known as the Hulk whenever he's angry), and two highly skilled assassins by the name of Natasha Romanoff (who goes by the alias of Black Widow) and Clint Barton (who goes by the alias of Hawkeye). The collaboration, however, is rocky and uneasy, especially between Tony and Steve. Steve knew Howard and has a far different ideology of heroism than Tony does.

Hawkeye and other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents placed under a spell by Loki attack the helicarrier the team is travelling on. Chaos ensues, and Coulson is killed. Tony is affected most having known Coulson the longest, and while he hasn't gotten along with his teammates save for Bruce, he decides to avenge Coulson's death and protect Earth from Loki and the Chitauri. Loki places the tesseract atop Stark Tower to create a wormhole that lets in the Chitauri, and the Avengers assemble for battle. The destruction is enormous, and Nick Fury's superiors feel the mission is futile. They send over a nuclear bomb despite Fury's protests, but Tony carries it through the wormhole, destroying the Chitauri's home base. He nearly dies from the effort but is saved by Bruce who is now able to control himself while in Hulk form. Thor captures Loki and takes him back to their realm of Asgard, bringing the tesseract with them. Tony continues his work on Stark Tower, only now he has different plans for what it can serve as.

Iron Man 3 Prelude (2013)

Iron Man Recap

This two-issue comic answers the question of, 'Where was Rhodey during The Avengers?' In this story, Tony takes back the Mark II armor Rhodey had modified by Hammer and gives him his own suit known as War Machine. Since Tony is too busy dealing with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the tesseract, Rhodey decides to investigate the Ten Rings organization that had captured Tony and who Ivan Vanko was a part of. His search takes him to Asia where he finds the terrorists are now armed with Hammer's weaponry. They attack him with everything they have, but War Machine prevails. Unbeknownst to Rhodey, though, the Ten Rings were merely testing out the capabilities of the War Machine suit, scanning its technology and collecting data all the while. Rhodey gets a call from Tony asking for help with the Chitauri battle, but by the time Rhodey returns to the United States, the battle's over.

The story of Iron Man is only a fraction of what Marvel is calling its Cinematic Universe, but it's become the most successful and prominent element in the series. The latest film in that series may be called Iron Man 3, but besides continuing what was established in the first two entries, it also deals with the ramifications of The Avengers(thus making that film Iron Man 2.5). Tony Stark's story is certainly a fascinating one. He went from a man who carelessly threw everything away thinking he had all the time in the world to a man who gave up on life when finding himself on a ticking clock to finally a man who learned to work with others and value certain priorities in life. All the while, though, he never lost his sense of humor and quippy one-liners. He may be in many ways the comic relief side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the time being, but the story of Iron Man is filled with many layers, and Iron Man 3 promises to take the tale to even more new places.


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