It is hard to believe that it was back in 2008 when Iron Man first blasted onto the big screen and kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This was the first step in an adventurous project from the studio... to make a string of superhero movies that stand well alone but link into those that come before and after it.

Iron Man

Iron Man

In 2008, the well-crafted web of great movies and interesting and complex characters was a fair way off - fast-forward eight years, and the MCU is one of the most successful and extraordinary film projects of all time. And there's plenty more coming our way over the next few years.

But it was Iron Man, Jon Favreau's depiction of the character and Robert Downey Jr's central performance that started it all off and allowed everything that followed happen. Not to mention, Iron Man remains one of the best Marvel films to date.

The movie saw Downey Jr land the central role of Tony Stark aka Iron Man, in what was to be the movie and the character that would send his star rocketing and put him back on the A-list. While he may not have been an actor who would have immediately sprung to mind when you thought about who could play this role, it was a piece of casting genius and I can't see anyone else ever inhabiting this character as well as he has.

Tony Stark is a billionaire weapons manufacturer who is injured by a landmine. He is captured by Afghan forces and a dying Stark is forced to build them a weapon. He builds a suit which acts as a life support machine for Stark who escapes and returns to the America where he must come to terms with his past

When he uncovers a nefarious plot with global implications, he dons his powerful armour and vows to protect the world as Iron Man.

Iron Man was one of the best blockbuster movies of 2008 and really kicked off the MCU in fine style. Favreau was in the director's chair while Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway penned the screenplay; together they created an intelligent and action packed movie.

However, Iron Man is a movie that put the characters at its core. Yes, the movie look fantastic and there are some wonderful action set pieces, but they are all there to help develop the characters and push the story forward.

And there are few superheroes more interesting than Tony Stark - he goes on quite a journey from the selfish and arrogant weapons manufacturer to defender of the planet. I love Downey Jr's witty and sarcastic depiction of this character - you do have to wonder how much of that was in the script and how much was thrown in by the actor.

I suppose the selfish nature of Stark could be quite a turn off for audiences but Downey Jr plays him with humour and charm that you cannot help but like him from the moment that you meet him. For me, Downey Jr is the reason that this movie works. He brings a real gravitas to this character and keeps the whole thing grounded in reality; while bringing depth and believability to him at the same time. Stark goes on one of the most interesting character journeys as we go through the Marvel films.

Favreau injects some great humour into the film and while it is funny, Iron Man is never silly. The director really does find the perfect balance between character drama, human, and special effects. And the CGI is just fantastic from start to finish.

Iron Man really set out Marvel's idea of what a superhero movie should be; yes, there should be action and it look fantastic but all the stories need to have a character driven story. They have achieved this time and time again in recent years and that is what keeps people coming back to MCU. They have developed a series of characters that audiences care about and are invested in... and that all started with Iron Man.

Iron Man was a huge critical success upon release and went on to gross over $585 million at the global box office. Robert Downey Jr would go on to star in Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3; this franchise alone has grossed over $2 billion worldwide.

Sadly, it doesn't look like we are going to be seeing a fourth solo Iron Man movie anytime soon, but Downey Jr is back in Captain America: Civil War and has been linked with a role in Spider-Man: Homecoming next year.

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