10 things you might not know about IRON MAN

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Starting today, and continuing every Monday, Geek Dave begins a journey through the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and unearths some nuggets of trivia from each of them. To start us of it's Chapter One of Phase One, Iron Man.


1. It took almost 18 years for Iron Man to finally make it to the big screen. Back in 1990 Universal Pictures announced they were to produce an Iron Man movie, with Stuart Gordon directing, but soon after they decided instead to sell the rights onto 20th Century Fox. Fox set about developing a take with Nicolas Cage expressing an interest in playing the lead. It never managed to get off the ground.

Then in came Tom Cruise, who fell in love with the role and tried to kickstart the production himself. Planning to both star in and produce the feature he went so far as to commission a script by Stan Lee and Jeff Vintar. Jeffrey Caine then did a polish on the screenplay. But still nothing.

In 1999, Fox made one last effort to get an Iron Man movie made. They approached Quentin Tarantino to see if he could move things along but that too came to nothing. The following year the rights moved to New Line Cinema. Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio and Tim McCanlies wrote a screenplay (which later leaked online) which featured a cameo by Nick Fury. Joss Whedon was in talks to direct, but then it went quiet again. By 2004, Nick Cassavetes was signed on as director, and an announcement made that the film would arrive in 2006. But further delays resulted in the project being cancelled and the rights reverting back to Marvel. 


2. Once Marvel Studios decided to make Iron Man their first in-house self-financed motion picture the hunt was on for a Tony Stark. Timothy Olyphant read for the role, and prior to Jon Favreau's arrival as director, Hugh Jackman was approached. Favreau later revealed that before talking with Robert Downey Jr. he had considered Clive Owen and Sam Rockwell for the part. Ultimately Favreau championed Downey Jr. for the part of Tony Stark because he felt the actor's past was right for the part. He commented:
"The best and worst moments of Robert's life have been in the public eye. He had to find an inner balance to overcome obstacles that went far beyond his career. That's Tony Stark. Robert brings a depth that goes beyond a comic book character having trouble in high school, or can't get the girl."
Favreau also felt Downey could make Stark "a likable asshole", but also depict an authentic emotional journey once he won over the audience.

3. Rachel McAdams was Jon Favreau's first choice to play Pepper Potts, but she turned the role down.


4. Tony Stark's computer system is called JARVIS (standing for "Just A Rather Very Intelligent System"). This is a tribute to Edwin Jarvis, Tony Stark's butler in the comics. He was changed to an artificial intelligence to avoid comparisons to Batman/Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred Pennyworth.

Paul Bettany recorded all his lines as JARVIS in just two hours. He later revealed that he had no idea which film he had agreed to work on, he merely read the lines as a favour for Jon Favreau whom he had become friends with whilst filming Wimbledon.

5. An early draft of the script had the Mandarin appear in the film, re-imagined as an Indonesian terrorist. At this time it was planned to make the Iron Monger the main villain of the second film. Obadiah Stane was going to be Stark's friend and confidante in the first film, but then would become his enemy in the sequel. However, Jon Favreau was worried how to handle the Mandarin successfully, so he decided to re-work the character into a behind-the-scenes presence and make Iron Monger the first villain. He stated:
"I looked at the Mandarin more like how in 'Star Wars' you had the Emperor, but Darth Vader is the guy you want to see fight. Then you work your way to the time when lightning bolts are shooting out of the fingers and all that stuff could happen. But you can't have what happened in Return of the Jedo happen in A New Hope."
Another early draft of the script had Howard Stark, Iron Man's father, as a ruthless industrialist who becomes War Machine, and a scene would've revealed that it was Tony Stark who was the creator of Dr. Otto Octavius's tentacles.


6. When filming began the whole story was locked down but the actual script was not completely finalised, so a lot of the dialogue was ad-libbed throughout. Jon Favreau acknowledged this made the film feel more natural. Robert Downey Jr. was known to ask for many takes of one scene since he kept wanting to try something new. Gwyneth Paltrow, on the other hand, later admitted that she had a difficult time trying to match Downey with a suitable line, as she never knew what he would say.


7. When Robert Downey Jr. was carrying out motion-capture work for Iron Man he would sometimes wear the helmet, sleeves and chest of the armor over the motion-capture suit to realistically portray Iron Man's movements. The whole suit combined weighed over 90 pounds.

For some of the pick up shots of the first incarnation of the Iron Man suit, director Jon Favreau performed the motion capture himself.


8. Iron Man was the last movie the legendary special make-up effects creator Stan Winston worked on before his death. His Stan Winston Studios designed and built an animatronic puppet of the Iron Monger that stood 10 feet tall and weighed 800 pounds. It was built on a set of gimbals to simulate walking and required five operators to run it.

9. There were a couple of nice references to the classic 1960s Iron Man cartoon featured in the movie. Rhodey's ringtone for when Tony Stark calls him is a midi version of the theme music from that series, and in the scene where Tony and Rhodey are walking through the Casino in Vegas the music playing is a smooth jazz version of the theme song.


10. When filming first began Agent Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg, originally had a very small part in the movie. In fact the character didn't even have a name, the script just referred to him as 'Agent'. But thanks to Clark Gregg's chemistry with all the other actors his role was fleshed out and additional scenes were written to include him, and then even more during some late re-shoots. And we all know what that led to.

Read All Our MCU Trivia Articles
10 Things You Might Not Know About Iron Man
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10 Things You Might Not Know About Iron Man 2
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10 Things You Might Not Know About The Avengers
10 Things You Might Not Know About Iron Man 3
10 Things You Might Not Know About Thor: The Dark World
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