2008’s Iron Man is generally regarded as one of the best comic book movies of all time. The movie that kicked off the hugely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 91% – and with good reason. It was a risky premise at the time – Iron Man was hardly at the popularity levels of the likes of Spider-Man, for example – and it could quite easily have bombed.
Robert Downey, Jr. is absolutely fantastic in the role of Tony Stark – totally justifying his then-risky casting by Marvel Studios – and it’s safe to say that, without this movie and Downey, Jr.’s great performance, the likes of the Thor, Captain America and Avengers movies would never have been made.
But Iron Man isn’t a perfect comic book movie – far from it, in fact – because it gets quite a lot horribly wrong and there are some quite careless moments on the production and writing teams’ parts at times. Countless mistakes, issues and plot holes prevent it from even coming close to being able to call itself the perfect comic book movie. This article is going to list just twelve of them – a dirty dozen of problematic issues with the movie, so to speak.
Prepare for some serious nitpicking.
12. A Myspace Reference
Right at the start of the movie, when Tony Stark is being driven through Afghanistan in a Humvee accompanied by a number of soldiers and a convoy of other vehicles, the soldiers in his vehicle are very nervous around him. That is, until he gets them to relax and they start having a chat with him.
One of the soldiers wants a photograph taken with Stark – who duly obliges – but Stark insists he doesn’t want to see it on the soldier’s Myspace page.
Iron Man might have been released seven years ago, but really? A Myspace reference? Facebook was just coming into its own and Myspace was already practically obsolete at the time.
11. How Did Tony Stark Emerge From The Humvee Unscathed?
In the same scene as the last entry, the convoy transporting Tony Stark through Afghanistan is attacked by the terrorists who would later kidnap Stark and (attempt to) force him to build a missile for them.
The soldiers are all killed while Stark remains in his vehicle. While he is in there, a barrage of bullets and shrapnel smash through it – leaving around thirty clearly visible holes – and yet none of them hit Stark at all! How?!
Granted, when he tried to escape a few seconds later, he took some shrapnel to his chest, but the fact he wasn’t already severely injured (at the very least) was completely and utterly inexplicable.
10. How Didn’t The Terrorists Catch On That No Missile Was Being Built?
Whilst captured and rooming (caving?) with Ho Yinsen after being kidnapped by the Ten Rings terrorist group in Afghanistan, Tony Stark was asked to build a Jericho missile for the villainous group.
Instead of doing so, however, he built himself the Mark 1 Iron Man armour and used it to battle his way out and make his escape. But how on Earth did he actually manage to do that?
He had clearly been working on other things, as his shiny arc reactor appeared in his chest out of nowhere. Moreover, whilst watching him on CCTV, the terrorists actually saw him building the apparatus for the armour’s leg! They even went in to confront him about it! Then they just totally forgot about it and left him to it.
9. Nobody Managed To Shoot Through An Eye Hole?
After Tony Stark and Ho Yinsen build the Mark I Iron Man armour, Stark uses it to escape the cave he had been held captive in by taking out his captors using its offensive power. Consequently, he is fired upon by them en masse, but the armour protects him completely.
The funny thing, however, is that it has a rather exposed area that happens to be on Stark’s head. The helmet has eye holes that are easily big enough for bullets to get through and, given the number of bullets that were fired at him, it’s nothing short of a miracle that none of them got through.
Moreover, as he makes his escape, he is right in the centre of a huge explosion – and none of the resulting flames even get through the holes to burn his face!
8. No Post-Traumatic Stress?
Iron Man 3 emphasised the vulnerability within Tony Stark. Following the events of the Avengers movie, the third Iron Man solo outing showed the titular hero as having been deeply affected his experience. After having fought aliens and travelled through their portal into deep space, he was an emotional wreck and couldn’t sleep.
However, bearing this in mind, how did he seem to emerge from his experience in Afghanistan emotionally unscathed? Granted, there were no aliens to comprehend, but he was attacked by terrorists and woke up in a cave with an instrument built deep into his chest – surely that would be an emotionally scarring experience? But no, there was no post-traumatic stress evident at all, in spite of Stark’s later exposed emotional vulnerabilities.
7. The Arc Reactor Swap Should Have Killed Tony
When Tony Stark asked for Pepper Potts’ help in switching his arc reactor for a new one, he specifically told her not to remove the magnet attached to the one he currently had embedded in his chest, as doing so would kill him.
Potts – not having a clue what she was doing – removed the magnet by accident, causing Stark to go into cardiac arrest. The pair quickly put the new arc reactor into Stark’s chest, stopping his cardiac arrest and essentially saving his life. However, Potts didn’t put the magnet back in, which means the new one shouldn’t have worked and he should have died!
6. How Wasn’t Stark Injured In The Flight Test?
During the building process of the first red and gold Iron Man armour, Tony Stark had to test the thrusters to see if he could make it fly.
He said out loud “Okay, we’re gonna start off nice and easy. See if 10% thrust capacity achieves lift” and activated them. Not only was it enough to achieve lift, it actually slammed him into the ceiling at high speed, which subsequently meant he fell about twenty feet to the floor.
And yet he was completely uninjured! The impact of him hitting the ceiling should have at least broken his neck and the subsequent fall should have at least broken his legs. All things considered, the experience should really have killed him!
5. Horrible Spelling!
This really is a minor complaint, but it’s one that really shouldn’t occur in such a big budget, high profile movie such as Iron Man.
During an event to honour Tony Stark’s work and philanthropy, a video montage is shown to the attending audience that is essentially a list of his achievements.
In the montage, a Forbes magazine cover story reporting on him taking over as the head of Stark Industries is shown. It states that he took “the reigns” of the company, when it should actually have been spelt “reins”. Someone deserves a stern telling off for making such a silly mistake.
4. The Missile Iron Man Dodges Hits Nothing
When Tony Stark heads back to the Afghan village he was held hostage in (and the one in which Yinsen lived) to liberate it using his Iron Man armour to defeat the terrorists, he is fired upon by one of the terrorists’ tanks.
He dodges the projectile and responds with one of his own, which destroys the tank in no uncertain terms. However, there’s something a little odd about the one he dodged – it doesn’t hit anything!
It goes past him towards buildings and neither hits anything or detonates. Where did it go? Was it magic? Or was it just an oversight on the part of the production team? Probably the latter.
3. Why Does Obadiah Stane Hide In The Iron Monger Armour?
When everyone on the side of good (S.H.I.E.L.D., Tony Stark, Pepper Potts etc) learn of Obadiah Stane’s evil plans, Potts accompanies five S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to apprehend him.
However, when the group arrive at his location after he had fled from them, they find the plans for the Iron Monger armour and, more worryingly, an empty spot where it had previously been stored.
Bizarrely, even though Stane must have put it on to move it from its storage location, he still opted to hide from Potts and the agents – in spite of the fact that they would have been absolutely no threat to him from the moment he was inside it. Seriously, he actually emerges from the shadows just to initially attack Pepper. Why??
2. Save One Car Full Of Civilians, Kill Another?
During the final battle between Tony Stark/Iron Man and Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger, the villain picks up a car full of people to throw at the hero.
Before he gets the chance, Iron Man blasts him with the repulsor, causing him to drop the car. Iron Man catches it and saves the people inside as a result.
However, the blast sent Iron Monger smashing into the windscreen of another car, which would undoubtedly have killed (or, at the very least, severely injured) all of the people inside – and yet nothing was said or done to suggest that Stark gave a damn about that!
1. Why Was The Avenger Initiative Even A Thing At This Point?
Nick Fury emerged in the post-credits scene of Iron Man to effectively kick off the expansion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise that has led it to where it is today. But why?
When you actually think about it, there was no real need for the Avenger Initiative at the time and it was clearly done for no other reason than plot convenience. Really, how convenient that – just as soon as the Avenger Initiative is announced – Hulk would emerge, Thor would come to Earth and Captain America would be found and defrosted.
Even when aliens invaded Earth, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the World Security Council’s initial response was to use the “Phase 2” initiative (making powerful weapons using the Tesseract) instead of using the Avengers. So, if the Avengers weren’t initially thought to be needed when the Earth was at risk, why on Earth did Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. have plans to put them together when it wasn’t? It really doesn’t make much sense.