Ten facts you probably didn't know about the first Iron Man movie on its 10th anniversary
Happy birthday, Tony Stark!
Marvel took a big gamble with Iron Man when it was first released to the world on 30 April 2008.
A lower-tier superhero that many, many big-name screenwriters turned down the offer to write for simply because (A) Iron Man didn't have the big-name recognition of Spider-Man, Batman or The Hulk, and (B) Marvel was a fledgling company starting from scratch.
Ten years later, and look how much things have changed, as we head into the 19th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, multiples of billions of dollars at the box office, and a future as bright as any blockbuster series has any right to be.
But it all had to start somewhere, so to celebrate the first Iron Man movie turning 10 years old, here are ten things you might not have known about it...
1. If you remember back to 2008, Robert Downey Jr. was not the mega-bankable star that he is today. The original choice for the role was Tom Cruise, who eventually dropped out due to differences of opinion on the script. One of the other finalists for the role was Sam Rockwell, who would eventually return to the series as Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2. However, Downey Jr. was eventually chosen over all others as his own dark past perfectly mirrored that of Tony Stark. Other actors considered the lead were Hugh Jackman, Clive Owen, Timothy Olyphant, and Nicolas Cage!
2. While Jon Favreau would go on the create a great template for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he was far from the studio's first choice. Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook), Len Wiseman (Die Hard 4.0), Joss Whedon (who would go on to direct The Avengers) and Quentin Tarantino were all offered the directing gig before it eventually went on to Favreau.
3. Iron Man had been in development since around 1990, when the rights were initially held by Universal. They sold the rights to 20th Century Fox, who then sold them to New Line Cinema claiming that they had too many superhero movies in development and that "we can't make them all." By 2005, New Line had sold the rights back to Marvel, who then decided to start the project from scratch, and so began the MCU. Which worked out quite well for them, all things considered.
4. The movie eventually went into production... without a finished script. The producers and director were more concerned with the plot making sense than anything else, so a lot of the dialogue was improvised by the actors at the time of filming. Jeff Bridges was initially not a fan of this process, referring to the film as a "$200 million student film".
5. While Downey Jr. wasn't the company's first choice, very little of what was initially planned turned out that way in the finished product. Originally, Favreau wanted Pepper Potts to be played by Rachel McAdams (who would go on to star with Downey Jr. in Sherlock Holmes, and then join the MCU with Doctor Strange), and Paul Bettany took only two hours to record all of his lines as JARVIS, thinking it was a simple one-day job. Little did he know he'd be one of the lynch-pins for the series going forward.
6. Speaking of JARVIS, do you not what it stands for? Just A Rather Very Intelligent System. Keep that in your back pocket for the next film pub quiz!
7. Bridges' Obadiah Stane was not initially set up to be the villain, as an earlier draft features Stark's father Howard as a ruthless industrialist who goes on to become War Machine, with Stane being set up to become the main villain for the sequel, and The Mandarin intended to be the overarching villain for the entire series. This was mostly entirely written out of the final draft, with just the reference to the Ten Rings being a precursor to the arrival of The Mandarin in Iron Man 3.
8. Iron Man creator Stan Lee said he based the billionaire-playboy-philanthropist on real life millionaire-playboy-philanthropist Howard Hughes. Lee described Hughes as "one of the most colourful men of our time. He was an inventor, an adventurer, a multi-billionaire, a ladies' man and finally a nutcase." Yep, that sounds like Tony Stark.
9. After all of the hype from that very first post-credits sequence, Samuel L. Jackson almost turned down the role of Nick Fury for the sequels due to contract negotiation problems. That all turned around when Marvel offered him a nine-contract deal, and the comic-book iterations of the character have been changed to essentially match the look of Jackson.
10. In order to keep the "I am Iron Man" revelation a secret, all of the extras on set that day were told it was part of a dream sequence, and so the 'coming out' twist wasn't revealed until the movie was released to the public.