Oh, 2008 Iron Man movie, how I love thee. Let me count the ways:
Tony Stark’s ridiculously floppy hair he has to slick back for work, because like any good comics hero, he always has That One Rakish Lock Of Hair ™. Whoever styled Downey obviously knew what they were doing.
Relatedly, Paltrow actually ginger as Pepper. I love the strawberry-blonde look from later movies, too, but it’s so bright and pretty here.
JARVIS. Just… JARVIS.
The soundtrack. It’s one of the most distinctive and enjoyably electric-guitar-heavy soundtracks I’ve heard. I love how it mostly goes for modern-ish synths and ambient stuff, and also nods to classic rock, classic metal in particular. (The drums are incredibly John Bonham, and one of the main refrains is so close to “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin that I’m pleasantly surprised someone didn’t try to sue Ramin Djawadi.) Makes perfect sense for a futurist who works in tech at the cutting edge, but does it listening to stuff like 90s metal and AC/DC and wearing Black Sabbath shirts. Also, it means that when the full orchestral pomp kicks in, it’s even more affecting for how unusual it is.
“The bad guys won’t even want to come out of their caves.” Sure, it’s an offhand joke, but there’s a kernel of truth to it. It shows how damnably naive he is about some things, even as he pretends not to be. (”There’s a line, we don’t cross it.”)
The fact that he tells Yinsen, “Thank you for saving me.” A little thing, but important, especially contrasted to “What have you done to me?” at the start of their acquaintanceship.
The American Cheeseburger
The way it shows that good is something you have to do, not just something you are. We get to see pretty much every step of him becoming Iron Man, and it’s shown to be damn hard work. We get to see him exhausted and scruffy and injured, and his test flight nearly kills him, but he keeps going.
And we see the intricacies of what he’s doing. God, I love how much attention has been paid to the tech. The sequences when you get to see all the hydraulics and the soldering, so on… That’s just lovely prop and animation work. (Yes, I’m just here for the tech porn. How did you know?)
“I shouldn’t be alive, unless it was for a reason.”
A lovely Pepper/Tony dynamic that’s so different from the comics in all the best ways. “You’re the most qualified, capable person I know” is said with earnest admiration.
Though “Proof That Tony Stark Has A Heart” could be straight from the comics - again, in all the best ways.
How quiet Tony is. It’s more pronounced after Afghanistan, but even before, when he’s not playing up the snark, he’s soft-spoken, introspective and receptive, constantly trying to put people at ease. Sure, he can be arrogant and do dumb things (keeping Rhodey waiting three damn hours? Really, Stark?) and he’s obviously very used to his privilege, but it’s an interesting contrast and a nice piece of characterisation that’s very in line with 616. We get to see that less in other movies, but it’s always there.
The arc reactor. A beautiful piece of
engineering and prop design, and a really lovely poetic device that makes perfect sense with the arcs and motifs from the comics even though it was an MCU invention.
The fact that someone clearly went, “The workshop is important to him and probably where he spends most of his time” and worked to add little touches: the coffee machine, the models, the spare parts, the bits and pieces of a life dotted around. It feels very lived-in and like they actually thought about his character, rather than like they went for generic “harsh and futuristic = cool”.
Oh and: Tony Stark rides bikes, apparently. I needed to know that.
And that damn water feature. Apparently the epitome of cool is having your own little waterfall. I miss that waterfall; I’m so sad we lost it when the mansion got trashed.
How easy an entry point it is, and how it stands perfectly well on its own as just… a really good movie, regardless of the rest of the MCU or the comics. I’d never picked up an Iron Man comic before I saw this, and I fell utterly in love with the universe, the characters and the themes anyway.
The little, realistic touches like the goatee starting to grow out and the motor oil marks.