Come on even the most militant fan of “The Dark Knight” has to admit that at one point “Iron Man” completely stole the thunder from the marketing campaign Nolan and Warner Bros. steamrolled in to theaters and for a short while it looked like the sequel to “Batman Begins” was doomed to be an under performer. It was a brief window but surely enough Marvel took the steam from the Big Eared One. And why wouldn’t it? Marvel has done it again. Sitting down to watch “Iron Man” is an incredible experience and one that warrants at least three or more viewings for any fan of comic books. If you’re a hardcore comic book geek like I am, you’ll know that “Iron Man” had every chance to be a steaming pile because the character has always been a third rate joke in the Marvel Universe.
With people like Wolverine and Punisher, Iron Man was that living chuckle whose armor was boring more often than not. It took the prowess of people like Jon Favreau who brought the simplicity of the independent film with him, the great effects by ILM and the late Stan Winston, and the wonderful talents of indie darlings like Robert Downey Jr. (who is enormous as Tony Stark), Terrence Howard (perfectly cast as Rhodey), and Gwyneth Paltrow (absolutely adorable as Pepper Potts) respectively to make Iron Man work as a character we can look up to as an action hero on the printed page, in animated form, and (finally) on the big screen. “Iron Man” is an action packed piece of adventure cinema that mixes the whimsy and excitement of “The Rocketeer,” the sharp dialogue and clever interplay of “His Girl Friday” all with a hint of “Batman Begins” and it’s a franchise destined for success. And of course there’s that cameo in the end credits from Nick Fury. I loved it even more watching it a second time without a noisy theater crowd, and I enjoyed the smaller quirks this time out on this rather phenomenal DVD Edition.
As for the DVD, if the dynamic menu featuring Shell Head on a touch screen doesn’t get your goat, then the barrel full of extras will. On Disc One we have five Deleted and Extended Scenes all of which add to the flavor of the film with cute interplay between Howard and Downey Jr.; they’re good, but they’re not really scenes that would have added much to the overall film in the long run. So they’re fun for watching in a sequence but I’m glad that they were cut out. For the kids there’s a minute long look at the painful new series “Iron Man: Armored Adventures” a “Batman Beyond” wannabe that looks awfully sucky. Is it called “Iron Man: The Animated Series,” now? I’m confused. Disc Two has more goodies for us with “I Am Iron Man,” a nearly two hour look at the development, creation, and direction of “Iron Man,” and man oh man is it great. You have to love how cocky Downey Jr. becomes about playing Iron Man, and Paltrow provides keen insight in to her role as Potts and yes, it is an important part of the movie. Jon Favreau even gives us a tour of the movie in the making with looks at the studios and the crew actually developing the costume.
“The Invincible Iron Man” is a wonderful forty seven minute look at the comic book history of—who else?—The Iron One. It’s a typical extra that almost all comic book movie DVD’s have, but an interview with Stan Lee can never be called typical. For example, Lee explains that all the fan mail for the original “Iron Man” comic was from women instead of men. Wild. “Wired: The Digital Effects of Iron Man” is a thirty minute look at the intricacies that went behind the aeronautic CGI of the costume and the shelled form that was developed over the years. There’s also the six minute screen test with Robert Downey Jr. as Stark and it’s easy to see why he was chosen for Tony. The man is a natural. “The Actor’s Process” is a four minute look at Downey Jr. and Bridges practicing the final fight in the movie in a lot while Favreau choreographs and explores what could be done during the big showdown that will make both look like dignified heroes and villains.
We even see them build some of the movie’s key scenes on the spot. There’s also “The Onion ‘Wildly Popular Iron Man Trailer to be Adapted in to Full Length Film’ ” feature, a hilarious two and a half minute skit from the Onion News Network that talks about the trailer for “Iron Man” that was eventually made in to a movie. God I love the Onion. And finally, there are various Picture Galleries including Concept Art, Tech, Posters, and much more! If you don’t care about all those extras and behind the scenes, then you can get the One Disc which is slimmer and more compact, but for a Comic Nerd like yours truly, the Two Disc Ultimate Edition is an incredible release that had me at my television for hours. An excellent film garners an excellent release; I wish it was always like that.