- Iron Man’s success not only launched the MCU but also revived Robert Downey Jr.’s career and set major Hollywood trends.
- Ebert’s review predicted the MCU’s downfall, cautioning against making every character irreverent like Tony Stark.
- Fan fatigue and a lack of diversity in tone and humor among characters have contributed to the declining performance of recent Marvel films.
The first Iron Man movie, which kicked off the MCU in 2008, was given four out of four stars by legendary critic Roger Ebert. However, Ebert’s review from fifteen years ago also contained an eerie warning that Marvel Studios has failed to heed.
In addition to being the first ever Marvel Studios film, Iron Man started several major Hollywood trends and even helped resurrect Robert Downey Jr.’s career. After Iron Man, the MCU only found more success, ultimately peaking with Avengers: Endgame, the second highest-grossing film of all time. However, all empires fall eventually, and Marvel Studios and other superhero studios, like DC, have recently seen a steep decline in box office earnings due to fan fatigue.
Marvel Bringing Back Iron Man Would Be Admitting Defeat
After a few unsuccessful projects, Marvel is considering pulling back the hero that made the MCU a household name.
Amazingly, Ebert possibly predicted the downfall of the MCU, according to his original Iron Man review, shared on Reddit by u/teslak20. In the context of today’s Marvel Studios movies, the accuracy of Ebert’s concerns is almost spooky. “It’s prudent, I think, that Favreau positions the rest of the characters in a more serious vein,” states Ebert. “What a horror show it would have been if they were all tuned to Tony Stark’s sardonic wave length.” Amazingly, what was praised as a strength of the film is why the MCU faces criticism today. Ebert adds that it’s the seriousness of characters like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts and Jeff Bridges’ Obadiah Stane that contrasts the sarcastic humor of Tony Stark and ultimately creates an interesting dynamic.
Tonal redundancy and sameness throughout the characters and films have almost certainly contributed to the rampant fan fatigue. Redditors quickly pointed out how Marvel Studios failed to maintain the balance, with one comment reading, “Bugs the hell out of me that Dr. Strange, Thor, Banner, Marvel, Lang got the Tony personality transplant.” Another lamented, “Now every single character has the same Disney™ brand of quippy humor. Not just in Marvel, Star Wars too.” Other commenters went as far as to say it’s not only the sameness but also a drop in quality that’s to blame, claiming the new quippy characters lack the raw charisma of Downey’s fan-favorite character Tony Stark.
It’s incredible to see truly how far the MCU has fallen. Ebert gave the original Iron Man four out of four stars; the same score he gave Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece The Godfather. Iron Man is even listed in the National Film Registry among the greatest films of all time. Today, record lows for Marvel Studios are being broken critically and financially with nearly every new release, including recent flop The Marvels.
Perhaps if creatives and executives at the studio had paid attention to what audiences and Ebert liked about Iron Man, the landscape of superhero films would look different today.
Iron Man is streaming on Disney Plus.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a sprawling movie and television franchise that weaves together individual stories of superheroes, including Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man, Hulk, Black Widow, and many more. The first film in the franchise, Iron Man, was released in 2008. The MCU has garnered critical praise and financial success, earning billions at the box office and becoming a cultural phenomenon.
- First Film
- Iron Man
- Latest Film
- Robert Downey Jr. , Chris Evans , Chris Hemsworth , Scarlett Johansson , Mark Ruffalo , Jeremy Renner , Chadwick Boseman , Zoe Saldana , Chris Pratt , Tom Hiddleston , Iman Vellani
Is Loki Going to Replace Iron Man?
After the dramatic finale of Loki’s second season, some fans are speculating that the God of Mischief is going to take Iron Man’s place in the MCU.
Source: Roger Ebert (via TeslaK20/Reddit)