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35. Iron Man

The one that started it all. Iron Man is the first film in the MCU and one of the best films they've made so far. It's the beginning of Tony Stark's journey (and the MCU's journey at large) from rich *sshole to rich *sshole with a mech suit. I'm kidding of course Tony's character has gone through a lot of growth and change throughout the span of the MCU in fact it could be argued that the Tony that shows up in Captain America: Civil War could not be more different to the guy that starts this movie, and the seeds of those changes began here, when he gets attacked by that fated missile with his name on it.

The story, as almost everyone knows, follows the story of Tony Stark gets kidnapped by terrorists and escapes by building a weaponized metal suit powered by an arc reactor in his chest which is keeping him alive after shrapnel gets inside his body from the missile the terrorists launched, which, as previously mentioned, was a missile he sold to them. Upon his return stateside, he improves his suit and becomes the superhero, Iron Man.

I rewatched this movie recently I remembered just how good it is and how real it felt. It's definitely unique from the other marvel films in that it feels a lot edgier and in some ways darker than other films in the series (the same could be said of Iron Man 3, though for different reasons and to less success). While the Dark Knight, which came out that same summer, achieved realism through a very grounded tone, Iron Man feels without being as serious.

It was unlike any other superhero film before it in that it wasn't campy or comic bookish like some of the early batman films or even the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man franchise, and yet it was still truer to its comic book roots than other films at that time that went for a realistic feeling like the X-men and Nolan Batman films. It struck a perfect balance of lighthearted action and realism that the comic book hadn't seen at that time, and set the stage for pretty much every comic book film since then.

You can't talk about this film and the MCU as a whole without talking about Robert Downey Jr.'s incredible portrayal of Tony Stark. He owned the role and defined it like very few people have and that began in this movie. At that time coming off of former drug issues his career had stagnated and it was a big risk to star him in this film. That risk paid off in spades though as this film was both a critical and box office hit, and rightfully so.