Fun with Franchises: Our Favorite Images from The Marvel Universe – Iron Man

One of the recurring features that we do in Fun with Franchises (a feature within a feature) is, after we finish watching a film, we go through and pick out our favorite images from that film. These images could be anything from really famous images from the film or franchise, really beautifully composed shots, shots that are funny to us because of the facial expressions being made in them or because of what we said about them in the article in which they appeared, or simply because they have boobs in them.

How we do this is, in the same way we watch the films, Colin and I separately pick out about ten to fifteen shots that we really liked. (This typically ends up being him picking out around 30 and me having around 70.) Then we compare lists, and whichever ones we both chose automatically make our final list. Everything else we talk through. We have it down to a science by now. Within four total emails, we’re left with a final list of ten images we liked the best, along with ten honorable mentions, which were also as good, but just missed out on making the list proper. (And then more we just work in. Just cause.)

It’s not very complicated (like most things we do here at B+ Movie Blog), and is just a way for us to point out shots that we really liked in the films, especially since we tend to pick stuff that’s not always on the beaten path. (We also don’t officially rank the list of shots. We just put them in chronological order. Simply picking them is hard enough. We don’t want to make our lives any harder. Plus, we’re lazy.)

That said — here are our favorite images from Iron Man:

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Hey! It’s time for the shots article!

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 1. The opening shot

Because it’s simple. Desert and mountains. Nice juxtaposition. This is the nicest opening shot Marvel has given us thus far. The art of the opening shot has been lost, especially in the realm of franchises.

Colin:

There’s something refreshing about a good opening image. It’s like how first impressions make a big difference. If you start with a good image, there’s a good chance that your movie is off on the right foot. 

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2. Booze

What a perfect introduction to this character. We see this before we see him, and immediately we know everything we need to know. Also, booze.

Colin:

They started this whole franchise with booze in a war zone. And that’s a rare thing in this system of movies that are weak on characters. It’s weird how many of these movies are shit on characters and how often we get a character introduction that leaves us waiting for something better to come along. You get this shot and you know immediately that the movie is THIS and that’s okay.

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3. The Jericho

The first one is more the shot. The second one I added because it’s awesome.

Colin:

That first shot is nice, though. And how they just cut to it like that. All they had to do here was make him look and sound like a dick who sells weapons, and they totally succeeded, but they got a few nice shots out of it, too.

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4. Strippers on a Plane

They have the flight attendants dancing around a stripper pole. How is this not everyone’s favorite shot?

Colin:

They’re drinking, and framed by hot flight attendant (stewardess actually seems appropriate here) midriff and an in-flight stripper pole. There are few moments in the movie I enjoyed more than this, but it’s great that they put the ladies between the speaking actors and the camera.

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5. This shot

I like the colors, plus the idea that he’s been shot out of the explosion and is flying off like a cartoon character.

Colin:

Go wide, young man. Love me some wide shots. This shot has a hero launching out of an explosion, but even without that, it would be a gorgeous wide shot. It’s so refreshing to see a wide shot that features the focal point of the action in one corner and leaves the rest open.

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6. This shot

I deliberately didn’t choose the next shot with his entire body in the frame. I like that there’s just half of him jutting into frame between the sky and the top of the sand hill.

Colin:

That’s some Lawrence of Arabia shit. Not in that 70mm, but they can dream, right?

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7. Jeff Bridges

The first shot is because it looks great, the second shot is because his face is great.

Colin:

I don’t know what the conventional thinking is on this, but I really like Jeff Bridges in this movie. He’s a great actor, and I’m not going to say he was misused. This wasn’t Cate Blanchett in Crystal Skull. He’s awesome, and they used it. I’m also not used to seeing him as the villain, so I really liked that. 

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8. This face

This face is amazing. Downey has some amazing faces in this movie. He doesn’t have them as much after this, because he developed the whole “Robert Downey Stark persona” he puts on now. But this movie is great for facial expressions.

And also, this is exactly what it looks like when you meet someone you slept with you had no intention of ever seeing again, completely forget their name and call them by the wrong one, and don’t really give a fuck whatsoever.

Colin:

Shameless. The man is shameless.

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9. This shot

I’m really surprised we both picked this shot. I thought for sure this would be one only I picked and it would be relegated for the honorable mentions because I refused to be without it.

I said in the articles how this reminded me of The Steel Helmet, and that’s true. But on its own, this is a really terrific looking shot. I love that his suit is all scuffed up. It makes it look better than in later films, where it doesn’t feel as real as it does here. (I think they actually had him in a pretty heavy suit for a sizable portion of this movie. Which he hated, and I think stopped happening in the sequels. Which is probably why the suit looks more fake in later films.) Plus, the colors really pop between the neutral gray and the slightly blue tinted background.

And, also… “Soon.”

Colin:

This one actually sticks with me because the angle makes him look angry. A really great example of this principle is the Japanese Noh mask — they’re made to look angry when downcast and happy when upturned. In this shot, the eyes are narrower, and he looks pissed. But it’s also nice to have things rising into a shot. 

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10. “I am Iron Man”

First shot and last shot. Has any film pulled off that trick in our shots articles? The reason I put this here is because, let’s face it, the ending is badass. And it’s actually a really terrific shot to end with on a lot of levels. First, in terms of the film — you have something that no superhero movie has ever done: have the hero come right and be like, “Yes, this is my secret identity. I am the superhero.” And in a “real world” setting, that’s interesting as shit. Second, he looks down the barrel of the camera, which is just terrific. Especially since this movie is the Robert Downey Jr. show. It’s a nice way for him to tell everyone, “I’m back, motherfuckers,” and also a bold calling card for Marvel as a studio. I may not like what they did with it, but this was a very brash beginning for them. This movie ending with a bang is a calling card that they were someone to be reckoned with, rather than playing it safe with the ending. And, again, we have to admit, this ending made all of us want to stand up and cheer when we saw it in the theaters. There is no way I could have let this not be on this list.

Colin:

That is a sick way to end, now that I think of it. Batman and Spiderman are all worried about their identities and loved ones and shit. Iron Man? Sup, bitches?

– – – – – – – – – – –

And now for the honorable mentions. But first…

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– – – – – – – – – –

Honorable Mentions:

  • This shot

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I love this, because you see the guy there, and all of a sudden, boom. I like how simple it is and how practical the effect is. You see these people killed without much effort spent.

Colin:

This didn’t stick out to me quite as much as it did to Mike, but I see why he chose it. It’s sort of like that shot we had in Revenge of the Sith, when the cockpit was getting hydraulic fluid all over it and started to fog up. You don’t usually expect a shot to be obscured that way, and especially not in a modern franchise film. 

  • Long shots

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It’s the fact that it’s a single shot and the angle doesn’t change. It enhances the comedy and pays off at the end with the fire extinguisher.

Colin:

He has robot slaves to film him and extinguish him.

  • This shot

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Very Star Wars. I love them sweeping up in the back.

Colin:

These shots are always hilarious to me. I’m sorry. I did pick the one where the sand is streaming from the mask, which is a nice touch.

  • Gunfighter shot

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Because I’d take something that reminds me of a better movie than most Marvel shots. Also, I like that he fashions himself a gunfighter, in a way. It fits.

Colin:

You KNOW we love a good gunfighter pose. Hand at the hips, itchy fingers. Nobody does this!

  • Menacing

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Look at how fucking sinister this is. It’s so much better than if he tried to have her stopped.

Soon.

Colin:

This is why Jeff Bridges wins at things. He’s WATCHING her leave, knowing that she’s his enemy and that she’s going to tell the government what’s up. It’s the calm that freaks you out. He’s just staring at her calmly, and you can feel the anger — but most importantly, the fact that he’s not flipping out makes you even more scared of him.

  • Canted angle

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I love how canted this is. It’s such a nice looking image. Look at this.

Colin:

The lighting from the reactor in this sequence was really great for illuminating Bridges’ expressions. Such a white light on a relatively dim set makes a serious difference in casting facial shadows, which makes the acting feel more dynamic. All of the shots of Bridges in this scene should get honorable mentions, but this one has the canted angle, which is a win. Not even Branagh. 

  • This shot

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This one was more of a Colin choice, but when I saw it, I really liked it. I like the angle quite a bit. Plus it’s funny to me that he’s giving off rocket type smoke out of that thing.

Colin:

It was watching through this time around that I first payed attention to how he’s looking back and flying up backwards. I love that. You can always make something look scary or imposing by blocking it with someone else retreating from it. It’s such a classic setup. The chase in one image. This could be a cell out of a comic book.

  • This shot

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I like how up close and canted it is. We’re like, right there next to his face. And the coloring. It’s very 2001. “Open the pod bay doors, Hal.” “I’m sorry, Obadiah. You’re not wearing those pajamas I got you for Christmas.”

Colin:

I just want a HUD more than anything. His is red, which means evil.

  • This shot

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“Marco!”

Colin:

Sort of like the flying chase shot, this deals with characters on two planes to show hunter and hunted. You’re scared in this shot. I love the two floodlights with the two reactors.

  • This face

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Because Robert Downey Jr. is awesome.

Colin:

This shot needs to be a meme now.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow we give our final thoughts on the film.

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