As I've heard more about the internal strife that existed on set and the lack of a true script, I am only more and more impressed and how this actually turned out to be quite possibly the best super hero movie ever made. My opinion on that varies, but it's strength as one of the best cannot be argued.
It is a true Marvel story in that a flawed human with extraordinary abilities (in this case, Tony Stark with incredible smarts) is forced to use those great abilities for the betterment of society. This movie doesn't make the mistake other comic book movies seem to often make in that the focus of the movie remains on Tony Stark almost the entire film. The villain is not the star. The whacky sidekick is not the star. And there is not an over-abundance of characters that naturally take away from Iron Man (a problem that would creep up in the sequel…but that's another blog post).
This is the first of the "Avengers Initiative" movies and does a decent job of laying the groundwork for what was to come. In watching the movie again after having seen the others (except Avengers at this point), I took notes on every reference that deals with another movie in the franchise.
Quite a bit is said about Howard Stark. Since he showed up as a character in Captain America and ultimately was revealed to be connected to S.H.I.E.L.D., I will mention a few things we learn about him in this movie even if they do seem somewhat trivial:
- It was mentioned that Howard Stark helped fight the Nazis and develop the atomic bomb.
- He and his wife died in a car accident, something that seemed less than fitting for this great innovator.
- Obadiah Stane knew Howard Stark and mentioned to Tony that his father would be proud of Tony and his invention of the Iron Man armor.
In the comics, Jarvis was the butler and aid to the Avengers. In Iron Man, he is an AI who is a part of Tony's suit. I believe that Paul Bettany will be reprising this role in Avengers, but whether he will only interact with Tony or the entire team remains to be seen.
I don't believe it will play a part in the Avengers, but in this movie, they begin laying the groundwork for the Mandarin by referring to the terrorist group known as "The Ten Rings." In the comics, Mandarin was known for his ten rings that gave him powers.
Finally, the most obvious, Agent Coulson and Colonel Fury appear in this movie both referring to a past of dealing with this type of stuff. Coulson says, "this is not my first rodeo" and Fury says, "You think you're the only super hero in the world?" Both are agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it is S.H.I.E.L.D. that will tie all of the heroes together. This is truly kicked of with the post-credits sequence when Fury says, "Mr. Stark, I'd like to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative."
How will Iron Man fit into the Avengers
Tony is a genius who uses people early in the movie, but in losing his heart, finds it. He barely gives Pepper the respect she deserves and is very secretive and not entirely trusting of those around him (see Rhodey). This movie doesn't paint a great picture for how Tony will be on the Avengers team, but he'll likely be cocky and do his own thing a time or two without consulting the others. He will likely come off as disrespectful of his teammates and leadership in particular, but that is probably not his intent, he is just calculating how to improve 17 different features on his armor at the same time he's being forced to stand around for a team meeting.
Iron Man 2 actually offers some additional insight into how he works with others so more on that to come.
Some thoughts from Robert over at To the Escape the Hatch