Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Peverett Phile Extra: The Invincible Blog

Hello, phans, no, it's not Thursday already. This is a special entry of the Phile dedicated to Iron Man. It's May Movie Month, so every week through May there ill be an extra entry dedicated to a movie. Remember I did that last year? Okay, let's get started.


The secret behind Black Sabbath's "tribute" song, the buzz on a sequel already And why Robert Downey Jr. is the perfect bad boy to take on Tony Stark …
1. His birthdate
Iron Man made his debut in bulky iron-colored armor in Issue #39 of Tales of Suspense, published in 1963 (although some sources, like Toonopedia, pin Iron Man's birthday to late 1962, because that's when the March 1963 issue actually went on sale).
2. Various shades of iron
The bucket of bolts took on a solid gold hue in the very next issue. But it would take until the end of 1963 before the character, created by Marvel Comics marvel Stan Lee, became the yellow-and-red can of tin we know today.
3. Stark's M.O.
Underneath the armor, Iron Man is Anthony Edward Stark. His friends call him Tony. He's the Long Island-born playboy of Stark Enterprises, the high-tech weapons company he inherited after his parents, in classic superhero fashion, were killed.
4. Stan Lee mugs again
In the movie, Stan Lee cameos as a girl-magnet man who's mistaken for Hugh Hefner, the Playboy playboy reputedly was a model for Stark. A busy bit player, especially when it comes to Marvel movies, Lee has appeared in the last two Spider-Mans, the first and third X-Men, the first Fantastic Four, the Ang Lee Hulk and the Ben Affleck Daredevil.
5. Penline origins
Jack Kirby, whose pen line was responsible for helping bring to life the likes of the Fantastic Four, the Hulk and the X-Men, is also credited as one of Iron Man's founding fathers, along with scripter Larry Lieber and fellow artist Don Heck.
6. Movie vs. comic
The new movie pretty much follows the old comic-book origin: Tony Stark is wounded and captured in a war zone and is forced to put his genius techie mind to work for the bad guys. Little do the bad guys know, however, that what Tony Stark is really building is a suit of armor that'll bust him out of his prison and, eventually, save the world.
7. Iron Man's wardrobe changes
Being a tinkerer, the movie's Tony will go through three different stages of armor, in the same fashion that the comic book Iron Man changed up his look.
8. The Middle East is the new Vietnam
In the movie, the war zone is set in the Middle East. In the comics, it was Vietnam. Interestingly, in the early 1960s, when Iron Man's first issue debuted, Vietnam was not yet Vietnam, the World-Famous Quagmire — it was just a good place to battle Communist baddies.
9. Summer movies rock this year!
The summer of 2008 is arguably the biggest summer ever for superhero movies: In addition to Iron Man, there's also The Incredible Hulk and the latest Batman caper, The Dark Knight. And that doesn't even count the comics-spawned Hellboy II: The Golden Army and Hancock.
10. Paying his dues with the Avengers
Iron Man has had a weird kind of popularity. He was popular enough to warrant membership, circa 1963, in Marvel's superhero club known as the Avengers. He was popular enough to get his own cartoon series in 1966 (with a groovy theme song, to boot). But he wasn't popular enough to warrant his own title, The Invincible Iron Man, until 1968.
11. Tony Stark's voice
The voice of Tony Stark/Iron Man in the 1960s TV series was supplied by none other than Animal House's Dean Wormer, actor John Vernon.
12. Downey's day to shine
Robert Downey Jr. is the first actor to play a live-action Tony Stark/Iron Man.
13. Iron Man cameos in other movies
Iron Man is Downey's first stint in a superhero movie, but it won't be his last. He'll also appear, briefly, as Tony Stark in The Incredible Hulk. He shares a scene with that movie's William Hurt.
14. The perfect bad boy for Tony Stark
Downey, with his record of arrests and jail time, may not scream superhero, but he does scream Tony Stark. Tony, like the best Marvel heroes, is an imperfect man: He's an alcoholic; he's got a bum ticker (from his little war-zone escapade); and he can't settle down, which, from Tony's perspective, actually, might not really be a problem.
15. Stark character sent to rehab …
Tony Stark will not be an alcoholic in the movie. In the comics, the character didn't descend into the "Demon in the Bottle" storyline until the 1980s; the movie is going to stick with the original vision of the character.
16. … Downey went, too
Downey gave up one of his last bad habits to play Iron Man, he quit smoking during the shoot.
17. You've come a long way, baby
Director Jon Favreau is still best known for Swingers (he starred in it and wrote the script), but he's also helmed the hit Elf and trained for the Ultimate Fighting Championship on "Friends".
18. Favreau's posse
Executive producer Peter Billingsley is a longtime Favreau cohort, he produced Zathura for him, but he'll always be best known as Red Ryder-coveting Ralphie from A Christmas Story.
19. Why Iron Man took so long to make
Like most movies, Iron Man kicked around Hollywood for a long time before actually becoming a movie. In the early 2000s, Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage and even Leonardo DiCaprio were floated as possible stars.
20. The first director fizzles
In 2004, Nick Cassavetes (Alpha Dog) was signed to direct for New Line Cinema.
21. The second director is 'money'
By 2006, Cassavetes and New Line were out, and Favreau and Paramount Pictures were in. Iron Man became the first project to emerge from Marvel's ambitious 10-film plan with the studio. (Marvel pays for the pics; Paramount releases them.)
22. A Nick Fury movie?
Nick Fury, the eye-patch-wearing agent of the Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-Enforcement Division (or S.H.I.E.L.D., for short), is another Marvel hero who's supposed to get a movie out of the Marvel-Paramount deal. There have been many back and forth reports that the character, under the command of Samuel L. Jackson, will put in a cameo in Iron Man. (Stay through the credits)
23. A-list cameo rumors
Hilary Swank's also been tagged as Iron Man cameo material. No word on who she's supposed to play. (By the way, the rumor mill on this one goes back to a pretty solid source, no less than Avi Arad, another executive producer on the film, who told MTV that Swank was going to cameo.) (I didn't see her)
24. Hip-hoppers love Iron Man …
Ghostface Killa isn't just another cameo artist, he has a quick scene with Downey — he's a big Iron Man fan, too. The rapper's 1996 album is called Ironman, and on its cover, he's clad in Iron Man red and yellow. The last track on the CD is even called "Marvel." And to top it all off, one of his rap aliases is none other than Tony Starks.
25. … Heavy metal rockers, too
The Iron Man trailer rocks hard to Black Sabbath's "Iron Man," the band's monster 1960s hit that may or may not have been inspired by the superhero. According to the Boston Globe, the answer as to whether the song really is about Tony Stark's alter ego lies in whom you ask.
26. Directors love casting themselves
One more bit of cameo news: Favreau, who still acts out, pulls a Hitchcock and briefly appears in his own film alongside Downey as Tony Stark.
27. An Oscar winner for a sidekick
Gwyneth Paltrow does not put in a cameo. She's a full-blooded costar, playing Virginia "Pepper" Potts, Stark's indispensable executive assistant, think Bond's Moneypenny.
28. Paltrow's first sci-fi flick bombed
Oscar-winner Paltrow is not unknown to sci-fi fans, she battled robots in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
29. Stark's sworn emeny
Jeff Bridges plays Obadiah Stane, a brilliant elder statesman at Stark Industries, who comes to battle Iron Man as the arch villain Iron Monger.
30. Would-be baddies
Iron Man villains who lost out to Iron Monger for their shot at big-screen stardom include: Crimson Dynamo, Titanium Man and Mandarin.
31. The big Mandarin tease
Back in 2006, Favreau told fans at Comic-Con that Mandarin, probably the most famous of the Iron Man foes, was going to be his main bad guy, but the script and plans changed.
32. Sloppy seconds for this villain
Mandarin did get a gig in the 2007 straight-to-DVD animated movie The Invincible Iron Man.
33. Could Terrance Howard be any cooler?
Terrence Howard stands up for Tony Stark as the man's true friend and confidante, Lt. Col. James Rhodes.
34. Sequel buzz already?
In the comics, Rhodes suits up himself as the hero named War Machine. As for the movie, well, (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT!): Howard told MTV that Rhodes won't break out the full-on War Machine armor until the sequel. Yes, the sequel.
35. If there's a sequel, Downey's in!
There's almost always talk of a sequel with a big movie like Iron Man, at least until the box-office receipts are tallied. In any case, almost all the principals, from Favreau to Downey, have expressed interest in future Iron Man employment.
36. Will an Avengers movie ever happen?
On the whole, the Marvel universe is definitely expanding. Favreau told Screen Rant that the comic giant, among other plans, is eyeing an Avengers movie that would feature Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor and the mighty Ant-Man.
37. Tony Stark is no celebrity …
When Favreau came on board Iron Man, he said he wanted an actor, not a star, to don the armor. He said stars bring too much baggage, and having survived the Daredevil shoot with the then tabloid magnet Ben Affleck, he probably spoke from experience.
38. … But wait, isn't Downey a star?
But wait, isn't Downey a star? Favreau told Comics Continuum he liked the well-known, Academy Award-nominated Downey for Iron Man because, well, he liked the "kind of likable asshole that he can play."
39. Big movie, big money
The movie, which began shooting in early 2007, cost a reputed $186 million. (Special effects — and multiple suits of armor — don't come cheap.) Compared to other recent superhero flicks, the price tag is actually on the low side. Spider-Man 3 reportedly cost $258 million; Superman Returns a super-duper whopping $270 million. The most incredible thing about The Incredible Hulk is that it cost "only" $125 million — of course, Universal is still smarting from pouring even more into the bust that was the Ang Lee version.
40. Pimping costs the most
Iron Man hasn't been cheap to promote, either. Its first trailer premiered during February's Super Bowl, where 30-second spots cost a record $2.7 million.
41. Special effects don't come cheap, either
Another reason Iron Man can't be done (well) as a bargain production: Iron Man's superpowers. The guy can fly (with the help of special robo-boots). The guy can shoot a laser beam out of the yellow logo on his chest armor. And you know a guy who's versed in high-tech weaponry knows his way around a missile launcher or three. These are not Tinker Toys, my friends.
42. Tony Stark's not much without his armor
Unlike an Iron Man movie, a Tony Stark movie would be really cheap to make. Without his armor, Stark — unlike a Peter Parker or a Clark Kent, who are always ready for action, regardless of whether they're dressed for action is nothing. In fact, because of that bad heart, Stark is worse than nothing, he's probably dead.
43. Downey's six-pack regimen
Just to be on the safe side, and just so we wouldn't have to be bothered by the sight of flab, Downey, a longtime practitioner of martial arts, got into extra-special shape for Tony Stark's armor-free scenes.
44. We didn't need a fit director, but OK …
Favreau got into pretty good shape, too, and he's hardly on camera. Howard told Superhero Hype! that his director dropped 70 pounds during production — on a 900-calories-a day diet.
45. Not-so-subtle product placement
In the movie, Tony Stark makes the scene in a $108,000 Audi R8. It's the perfect ride, per Variety, because the car's rear-engine housing glows just like Iron Man's chest plate. And also because it's part of a big-time product-placement deal that'll also see Paltrow's Pepper Potts in an Audi S5.
46. Animated Iron Man
Iron Man returned to the small screen in 1994 via an all-new animated series. This time out, Robert Hays, best known for overcoming his fear of flying in Airplane!, was the voice of the canned hero.
47. What does Iron Man sound like to you?
Ramin Djawadi wrote the score for Iron Man. His previous comic-book-movie credit is Blade: Trinity, which was based on yet another Marvel character.
48. Free comic giveaway!
If nothing else, Iron Man fans will get a free comic book out of the whole movie deal. On Free Comic Book Day (a real annual event), Marvel will comp fans with an Iron Man-Hulk combo that'll hype both of the comic company's summer movies (available at participating comics stores).
49. Iron Man's armor is Terminator quality
Iron Man's movie armor was built by Stan Winston Studio — its namesake is the visual effects guru behind The Terminator, Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park.
50. Who's richer than Tony Stark?
In 2007, Tony Stark placed 10th on Forbes' ranking of the 15 wealthiest fictional characters, with an estimated net worth of $6 billion. Scrooge McDuck was No. 1. Fellow comic-book character Bruce Wayne was No. 8.


Today Logan and I went to see Iron Man, both wearing our Iron Man t-shirts. Okay, he;s eight and I'm a geek. Iron Man stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, and Terrence Howard. A conscience-free war profiteer (Mr. Downey Jr. — think a younger, hornier, more quick-witted Dick Cheney) realizes the error of his ways after getting a taste of his own brutality and develops a supersuit that will restore justice and peace to the world. Of course, there are people who want to stop him …
You probably know that, last summer, I was really into Transformers and how post-talented Michael Bay was and that it didn't matter that nothing made sense and who cared anyway because it was about giant fighting robots. And I still feel that way. But this film, about a giant fighting guy dressed up in a superpowered robot suit, is better, faster and stronger than that other one because he's someone you're genuinely pulling for instead of just cheering on the destruction of it all. That probably marks me as sentimental and weak, but whatever. Superhero movies often seem to take place in eras that are out of their time or too much in their time. Some things will appear modern, some things won't, Tobey Maguire will speak in this odd, gee-whiz manner, Jack Nicholson's Joker will be very self-consciously '80s-cool and wind up looking dated. This one's modern and funny — "now" but not frozen-in-2008 hip. It gets its tone just right. As far as the casting goes, the great news is that Downey Jr. is perfect and seems to be playing a version of himself (talented smartass gets his life pulverized only to rise from the ashes), and Bridges has the perfect shaved head for a bad guy. Only Paltrow continues to annoy. At first, she seems more steel-spined than you've ever seen her. And then she wilts. I want about 15 pounds more Barbara Stanwyck in that woman and soon. From 1 to 10 I give this movie a ten. Logan's favorite part was,
"When Tony Stark fell. And when the fire came out and he punched the robot." 

Well, there you have it, the Iron Man entry of the Phile. It will be back next Thursday,
and the weekend after the Phile will have a special Speed Racer entry. Until then, 
spread the word, not the turd. And remember... Heavy boots of lead, fills his victims full of dread, running as fast as they can, Iron Man lives again! 'Nuff said.

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