Robert Downey Jr plays the titular role of Iron Man in the film.
Robert Downey Jr plays the titular role of Iron Man in the film.

10 years of MCU: A non-Marvel fan watches Iron Man for the first time

As Iron Man turns a decade old on Wednesday, we check what it holds for a first timer in today’s era.
Hindustan Times | By Sweta Kaushal, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 02, 2018 02:09 PM IST

Fear, failure, regret, hurt and the dread of being betrayed are not characteristics you normally associate with a superhero. And definitely not with Iron Man, the self–defined genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist, whose second name could be Cool if he would have something so blasé.

That is where Iron Man, the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), wins – it presents a man at his most vulnerable and with hardly any hero-like traits and then builds it all into one major success story. The best thing about Tony Stark is also the worst -- he is always working, with swag to spare. Iron Man shows you Tony Stark is cool, then underlines it and just to make sure you don’t miss it, highlights it all in neon colours. So, here is Tony Stark – you can either love the stylish, supercool hero or hate the proud braggart, but you certainly can’t ignore him. However, behind it all is a personal battle, loneliness and a thirst to prove himself over and over again which makes Iron Man a man first. Essentially, this is the story of redemption, of regaining faith once again.

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The film came out 10 years ago to the day and established the MCU into an entity so gargantuan that nothing like this has been seen before. As Iron Man turns a decade old on Wednesday, I decided to watch the first film of the series for the very first time. While others pledged their troth to MCU, I have, at most, flirted with it over the years. While I watched a few of the films off and on (there have been 19 till now with the blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War showing in theatres at present), I completely missed out on the origin stories.

So, what impression does Iron Man leave on a first-timer, a decade after the film released? Read on.

The movie grabs attention right from the first shot as Robert Downey Jr aka Tony Stark rides in his Fun-vee in a desert. Even the plates carry his name and director Jon Favreau establishes in those few minutes that his protagonist is a delicious mix of self-obsession and wise-cracking cynicism. While Marvel has established the cult of irreverent and ‘fun’ superheroes now, 10 years ago Tony Stark’s Iron Man would have been quite a change from DC’s superheroes who were weighed down by their responsibilities.

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Robert Downey Jr in a still from Iron Man.
Robert Downey Jr in a still from Iron Man.

However, the flippant Stark has a vulnerable side and we see it soon enough. As the owner of a corporation that sells weapons, he soon realizes that self-defence is not what they are selling. With focus on misuse of armaments, it is a deft touch that this superhero wants to disarm as a way out. Ironically, he decides to do it by building a special suit that can blast things off to smithereens.

Interestingly, Iron Man also shows us the corporate world like it is, especially Jeff Bridges’ character of Obadiah Stane. Remember when he tells Stark with the devil’s smirk, “You think just because you have an idea, it belongs to you?” Doesn’t he sound like any corporate boss? His being revealed as the villain comes as a shock to Stark and us as the audience for he was established as the saner, more pragmatic voice in Stark Industries.

Also, it is refreshing to watch an American superhero film where the American superhero is not fighting an evil outsider or an organisation headed by an Asian guy. Iron Man’s villain is war itself and the superhero realises the role America’s arms’ industry has played in leaving the world vulnerable.

However the best part, the most fun part of the movie is, undoubtedly, the making of the Iron Man. His first flight over the city’s horizons was thrilling to say the least. The human attempts, sincere efforts and genuine fears make this superhero so much more real.

Contrary to the usual letdown that most hyped films are, Iron Man is definitely worth all the crazy fan following I had seen. If there is one hero I want to root for, it is this cool, quirky person who is also vulnerable and emotional at times.

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