Iron Man finally lands on DVD. And boy, is he heavy — with special features, that is. For those who don’t remember, the movie is about an arms dealer with a conscience who builds a super-powered suit of armor. Tony Stark is a role tailored for Robert Downey Jr. Even while turning into the hero, he doesn’t sacrifice his fast-talking, cool swagger. Iron Man comes with realistic special effects, especially the armor, which didn’t seem out of place shooting lasers in the real world.
Like the million parts whirring inside Iron Man, the Ultimate 2-Disc Edition is full of things to look at. But notice this special edition doesn’t have any audio commentary tracks. Sucks, right? Wait a minute, that’s not a bad thing. Rather than cram a bunch of wearied filmmakers in a recording studio, Paramount and Marvel shot a 109-minute documentary. “I Am Iron Man” covers preproduction through some fine tuning before shipping Iron Man to theaters.
After watching, I have more respect for Jon Favreau as a director who prefers building character over repetitive action. Though it’s still hard for me not to imagine him as Mike Peters leaving multiple telephone messages for his ex-girlfriend in Swingers. The program also reveals executive producer Peter Billingsley’s cameo as a scientist. If Billingsley thought no one would mention he played Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story, he’s wrong. Be proud, Pete, the film’s a cult classic. What I really expected to hear were anecdotes about whether RDJ pranked the cast and crew. Nothing, darn.
The next section, “The Invincible Iron Man,” covers the superhero’s comic book history. I’m a movie geek not a comic geek, so this one didn’t interest me as much. It describes the storylines that influenced the movie. If you like watching interviews with famous Iron Man artists and writers this may be for you.
“Wired: The Visual Effects of Iron Man” details the work of three special effects shops hired for the film. An interesting challenge for them was matching the costumes when creating the CGI shots of Iron Man flying around. I liked hearing how Industrial Light and Magic worked hard replicating the brushed metal of the sleek Mark II and III suits. Computer generated metal objects always look too shiny to me. Like the main documentary, the artists explain in detail what they did.