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Film / Iron Man

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"Truth is... I am Iron Man."

The one that started it all.

Iron Man is a 2008 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr. as the armored Super Hero. Directed by Jon Favreau (Elf, Zathura), the movie went on to become the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, retroactively, the first chapter of both Phase 1 and the Infinity Saga Myth Arc.

After being captured by terrorists following a missile demonstration in Afghanistan, multi-billionaire Tony Stark uses his brilliant intellect to devise a powered armor to escape. Being an irresponsible, wealthy playboy before, he (literally) has a change of heart regarding his company policies and dedicates himself to cleaning up Stark Industries' patented weapons and taking care of the terrorist group that got their hands on them. To do so, he builds an even better suit of armor. However, not everyone in his company likes the new direction he's chosen.

The film also stars Terrence Howard as Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes, Tony's friend and liaison to Stark Industries, Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane, Tony's business partner, and Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia "Pepper" Potts, Tony's assistant.

The film is followed by The Incredible Hulk, in which Stark makes a cameo in The Stinger, the 2010 sequel Iron Man 2, and Tony takes part in the 2012 Crossover film The Avengers. 2013 saw the release of the second official follow-up, Iron Man 3. Tony is next seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015, Captain America: Civil War in 2016, Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017, Avengers: Infinity War in 2018 and Avengers: Endgame in 2019.

Iron Man provides examples of:

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    Tropes # to F 
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Tony Stark is seen munching on Burger King burgers after he's rescued. While on a bender, Robert Downey Jr. was driving around with a trunk full of drugs and stopped by a Burger King to get something to eat. He took one bite and found the burger to be so disgusting that he had to stop and take a moment to seriously consider what he was doing with his life. Realizing that he needed to shape up and take responsibility for himself, he immediately drove to the ocean and threw out the drugs he'd just bought and proceeded to clean up his life. Downey had the Burger King products placed in the film to acknowledge how the company played a role in his getting healthy enough to play Tony Stark.
    • When Tony tells Colonel Rhodes, "Looks like someone did your job for you," referencing Terrence Howard's earlier role in The Brave One.
    • Jeff Bridges plays nice piano at Tony's house. He plays even better when Michelle Pfeiffer is lying on top of it.
    • When Pepper is at Obadiah's computer, and there are folders marked "Lebowski".
  • Adaptation Distillation: Pulls together a lot of Iron Man story elements over the years.
    • The evolution of the armor throughout the film parallels the first three or four Iron Man suits in the comics (which were introduced over the course of twenty or so issues).
    • Pepper Potts and Jim Rhodes were rarely part of Tony's inner circle at the same time in the comics.
    • Tony's origin takes place in Afghanistan rather than Vietnam (an update taken from Ellis' Extremis story) and the thugs are hinted to be involved with the Mandarin (a bit like in The Invincible Iron Man or the 90s cartoon).
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Obadiah Stane is a long-term business partner to both Tony Stark and his father. His betrayal is what leads to the creation of Iron Man. In the comics, Stane has no connection to Tony's origin, being simply a rival arms manufacturer.
  • A.I.-cronym: JARVIS is really Just A Rather Very Intelligent System.
  • Almost Kiss: Tony and Pepper during the Stark charity event.
  • Alone in a Crowd: Tony after Obadiah reveals that he was the one responsible for filing the injunction against him, locking him out of the Stark Industries board.
  • Amusing Injuries:
    • Tony sets the suit's thrusters to ten percent power, and is slammed against the ceiling hard enough that, realistically, he should have broken at least a few bones, either from that or from the subsequent face-first fall on the floor.
    • Tony's assistant, Pepper Potts, walks into his lab just as he's testing one of the repulsor beams in the suit's gloves. The recoil throws Tony off screen and you hear him hit the far wall a couple seconds later. Pepper's reaction, mainly her complete lack of concern for his safety, is what really sells it.
  • And Show It to You: A variation. Obadiah toys with Tony's new arc reactor right in front of him after yanking it out. It wasn't actually his heart, but the reactor kept his heart from failing and the symbolism is definitely there.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Just before leaving Tony's apartment with the upgraded mini-arc reactor, the Big Bad hammers home just how far they're willing to go to achieve their goals by remarking, "It's a shame you had to involve Pepper in this, I would have preferred that she lived."
  • Appropriated Appellation: The media comes up with the "Iron Man" name in a newspaper headline at the end of the film, and Tony just rolls with it.
  • Are These Wires Important?: Tony does this to Iron Monger and it knocks out his targeting system. Provides the quote for the trope page.
    Iron Man: This looks important! [yank]
  • Arm Cannon: The Mark 1 and Mark 3 Iron Man armor suits both have some form of this. The Mark 1 has flamethrowers mounted on both arms and a one-shot rocket launcher in the left forearm. The Mark 3 has an antitank rocket launcher in the right forearm.
  • Arms Dealer: It is discovered that Obadiah Stane has been secretly selling weapons to the Ten Rings.
  • Artifact Name: Also Artifact Title: The titular character's codename fits his first two armors, Mark I and Mark II. To fix Mark II's issues with freezing at high altitude, Tony Stark built the Mark III armor using a titanium-gold alloy, but he kept the codename Iron Man for sheer Rule of Cool.
  • Artifact Title: Due to an Artifact Name, but the protagonist is still the same man, just his armor isn't iron any more.
  • Artificial Intelligence:
    • JARVIS, Tony's AI butler and in-flight navigator/engineer.
    • He also has a lesser A.I. that operates an industrial robot arm, which he calls Dummy and treats something between a simpleton and a pet, but is capable of enough independent thought and action to save Tony's life (which earns it a "Good boy!").
  • Artistic License: The LG VX9400 phone that Tony uses to communicate with Obadiah in Afghanistan does not have a front-facing camera or international capability.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The shrapnel working its way toward Tony's heart is held back by an electromagnet that is somehow just powerful enough to hold it in place but not powerful enough to pull it back toward the magnet over time even though jagged metal would tend to shift and thus cut through body tissue pretty readily as Tony does active superheroics.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Zig-zagged. The Ten Rings terrorists show very good trigger discipline while lounging around their base, but appalling trigger discipline during the video transmission of their demands.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • Being encased in a metal suit wouldn't offer Tony any protection from the damage he'd take from simple inertia from his various crash landings.
    • Tony's jet thrusters would be pushing his hands and feet in the opposite direction with the same force they provide to give him lift. While his suit may provide him superhuman strength to prevent his hands and feet from flailing wildly like an unattended firehose, he often uses the thrusters without his full suit, with no support for his joints above the wrist or ankle.
  • As Himself: Mad Money host Jim Cramer makes an appearance, blasting Stark for pulling his company out of weapon manufacturing on his show.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Yinsen does this to some Ten Rings terrorists shortly before he gets shot.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Literally the entire score.
    • It also doesn't hurt that most of it was performed by Tom Morello.
    • It really doesn't hurt that the official soundtrack for the sequel was an AC/DC compilation, as three of the band's songs play in both movies.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: According to Stane, Arc Reactor technology is a clean and powerful source of energy that was not cost-effective and served as little more than a publicity stunt "to shut the hippies up" but was considered a dead-end technology. Subverted big time when Tony was able to build a miniature one "in a cave with a box of scraps".
  • Bald of Evil:
    • Obadiah Stane's cueball head.
    • Raza, the ruthless terrorist leader, is also bald.
  • Bad to the Bone: The Black Sabbath opening melody of their song, "Iron Man".
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: After Iron Man takes out all of his men, the mercenary leader tries to call for reinforcements while hiding behind a wall. Tony punches through the wall and drags him out into the open.
  • Bear Hug: Iron Monger catches the smaller Iron Man armor in its huge arms and starts crushing it. Tony manages to get free by firing his anti-missile flares at point-blank.
  • Benevolent A.I.:
    • All of Tony's A.I. creations, from JARVIS to the armature robot, Dum-E, are not only extremely helpful, but extremely affable too.
      Stark: [having donned the Mark II armor for the first time] Jarvis, are you there?
      JARVIS: At your service, sir!
    • Dum-E, a mobile robotic arm, behaves like a faithful dog. After Tony's upgraded mini-arc reactor is stolen, Tony is scrambling to reach his older original reactor, but can't reach it. Tony crumples to the ground, about to die, when the robotic arm fetches it for him, and whimpers like a dog concerned about his owner. Tony smiles and says "Good boy!"
    • Another robotic arm, U (or You), serves as Tony's videographer.
  • Beta Outfit: Tony Stark builds the first suit while held captive by the Ten Rings terrorists. It is big and bulky due to both being a mechanical prototype, and as a nod to the original Iron Man suit in the comics. After getting back to the city he makes a chrome unpainted prototype before building the iconic final form of the suit out of a gold alloy and deciding to paint much of it hotrod red. The prototype chrome suit goes on to become the War Machine suit.
  • Big Bad: Obadiah Stane, whose attempts to take control of Stark Industries drive the plot.
  • Bigger Stick:
    • Invoked when Tony is talking to the reporter about his father: "Peace means having a bigger stick than the other guy." This speech comes back to bite him when the Ten Rings kidnaps and forces him to build them a big stick Jericho Missile to outstrip everyone else's weapons.
    • The Big Bad attempts to build a bigger stick with the Iron Monger armor based on the remnants of Tony's Mark I suit with mixed results. It's professionally manufactured, has more weapons, a targeting system and a more reliable flight system. However, it lacks the upgrades Tony made to his later Iron Man suits such as repulsors and ice protection and ultimately lacks an arc reactor to power it, forcing the Big Bad to steal one from Tony.
  • Big Guy Rodeo: Iron Man jumps on the back of the Iron Monger suit to pull out the cable connecting the helmet to the rest of the armor, blinding Obadiah and forcing him to open the chest piece to see.
  • Bilingual Bonus: If you speak Urdu, you'll know that Obadiah Stane was behind Tony's kidnapping an hour before Pepper translates the ransom tape.
  • Black Market: Stane, the VP of Tony's company, has been selling weapons to the Ten Rings organization behind Tony's back.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • "Oh yeah, I'm driving with the top down."
    • "An unfortunate training exercise involving an F-22 Raptor occurred yesterday."
    • "This isn't about me!"
  • Blind Shoulder Toss: Tony takes apart a warhead to extract .13 grams of palladium. The rest of the warhead is casually tossed behind him with a "Don't need that."
  • Body Horror: When Tony wakes up after the explosion that has embedded shrapnel in him, he finds a metal tube cut into his chest that's hooked up to a car battery. This just after he's pulled two or three feet of feeding tube out of his nose.
  • Bookends: Tony's escape from the Ten Rings in the first act and his battle with Iron Monger in the third involve Tony's "box of scraps" makeshift arc reactor in his suit; unlike his properly-built reactor, the original has a small finite power when utilized for combat purposes, leaving Tony with only limited time to achieve his goal before it runs out of juice and kills him.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Played with.
    • Iron Man's power source, the arc reactor, will run out of power if the power drain from the suit outstrips the power output of the reactor for too long. So shooting too much is not an option for him, at least in this film.
    • Played straight with everyone who fires kinetic weapons.
  • Breakout Character: Agent Coulson was a minor Canon Foreign character made up for the movie, but has since become a much larger part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He received a starring role in his own television show and even immigrated to the main comics line.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece:
    • Tony's first arc reactor, which becomes a Chekhov's Gun.
    • Invoked but subverted later, when James Rhodes briefly contemplates using Tony's Mark II armor to help him fight Obadiah.
      Rhodes: Next time, baby.
  • Brick Joke: The first thing Rhodey says to Tony after the latter escapes from his three months of captivity is a Call-Back to the last thing Tony said to Rhodey before being captured: "How was the fun-vee?" Tony thinks this is Actually Pretty Funny.
  • Broken Armor Boss Battle: While fighting Stane in the Iron Monger suit, Tony was using his older arc reactor that had limited energy and couldn't use powerful attacks. He attempts to disable the Iron Monger suit using high altitude icing but that gambit fails. While running only on emergency backup power, Tony rips off an exposed power line on the Iron Monger's neck, shutting off its visual systems and forcing Stane to open the armor and expose himself so he can aim.
  • Brown Note: One of the weapons Stark Industries has developed is an auditory paralysis device. It causes anyone who hears the noise to be temporarily paralyzed unless they are wearing special electronic earplugs.
  • Butt-Monkey: Dum-E, the robotic arm that Tony regularly calls useless and threatens to donate to a city college.
  • The Cameo:
    • In The Stinger, Samuel L. Jackson makes his debut as Nick Fury.
    • Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave is the very first person to be assaulted by Iron Man.
    • Stan Lee gets mistaken for Hugh Hefner at the charity ball.
    • A deleted scene features Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan. The music video for his Tony Stark-themed song "Slept on Tony" plays on Tony's private plane when Tony and Rhodey decide to have some drinks.
    • Peter Billingsley of A Christmas Story gets a scene as the scientist tasked with replicating Tony's arc reactor for Obadiah. Billingsley is a long-time friend and producing partner of Favreau, and received an executive producer credit on this movie.
  • Canon Foreigner: JARVIS and Agent Coulson both debuted in this movie, and have since been integrated into the comics.
  • Cape Punk: Unlike the majority of other Marvel Cinematic Universe stories, much attention is given to the ways Tony Stark is a flawed hero as well as one who is existing in the "real" world. Real-life science was used to justify the majority of his inventions (Arc Reactor aside) plus critiques of the War on Terror with superheroism representing a critique to both sides. Unlike other members of the team, Tony suffers PTSD and other psychological ailments from his experiences in the films.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Stane at the beginning, while collecting an award on Tony's behalf:
      Stane: ...well, I'm not Tony Stark.
      [the audience laughs]
    • When the Iron Monger fires up its Rocket Boots:
      JARVIS: Sir, it appears that his suit can fly.
      Tony: Duly noted.
  • Car Cushion: The Mark II's test flight ends with Tony falling through the roof and landing on one of his vintage sports cars, crushing it.
  • Car Fu: During their battle on the highway, Iron Monger grabs a motorcycle as it's driving by and smacks Tony into a bus with it.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The arc reactor that powers the suit also keeps Tony's heart going, which means that the longer he battles the closer to cardiac arrest he gets. Tony wisely changes this in the sequels so the suits have their own reactors.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: After being asked what's happening when the magnet that keeps shrapnel from piercing his heart is pulled out, Tony responds: "Nothing, I'm just going into cardiac arrest."
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Alluded to. When Pepper walks in on Tony being peeled out of the Mark III suit following his raid in Gulmira, the scene plays out as though this trope were in effect.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Tony Stark builds an arc reactor to power the electromagnet that protects his heart, then upgrades the unit by having his secretary, Pepper, install a larger version in his chest. He tells her to throw the small unit away, but Pepper has it put in a display case for him. The miniature reactor becomes crucial later on, when Obadiah Stane takes the larger reactor from Tony's chest while he's paralyzed, and he must rely on the smaller model to power his suit and his heart.
    • The flares that the Iron Man armor uses to stop missile fire are also used in the final fight to escape from the Iron Monger's Bear Hug.
    • The giant arc reactor powering the Stark Industries lab. When Stane's scientists can't miniaturise it for the Iron Monger suit, he just steals Tony's, and at the end, Pepper overloads it to finally defeat Stane.
    • The terrorists appear to make a standard ransom demand video after capturing Tony Stark. As noted under Bilingual Bonus, they're actually annoyed that Obadiah didn't tell them exactly who they'd been hired to kill, and are trying to demand more money from him.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Tony is testing the Mark II armor's flight capabilities and impulsively decides to break the altitude record. He fails because the suit builds up a layer of ice which shorts out its systems; Tony incorporates a fix for this in the Mark III design. Later in the movie, he lures the Iron Monger to similar altitudes, causing that armor to freeze up while his own suit is protected. According to the writers, the icing problem was in very real danger of becoming an unfired Chekhov's gun until they saw the finished cut and decided the climactic showdown would be stronger if it were fired.
  • Chest Blaster: Tony uses this during the climax to blast Stane out from under the car he's holding. It's one of the extremely few appearances in the films of the Unibeam; in the comics, Tony's chest plate can project not only a searchlight but various kinds of energy. When Iron Man really needs to blast someone or something, the Unibeam fires a super-sized repulsor ray.
  • Child Prodigy: Tony's backstory. He built his first circuitboard when he was four years old, his first V8 engine when he was six years old, graduated summa cum laude from MIT when he was 17 years old, and took over as CEO of Stark Industries at age 21.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: To convince him to build missiles for them, the Ten Rings water board him. Later, Raza is inches away from forcing a red hot coal into Yinsen's mouth before Tony snaps and says "I need him!".
  • Comes Great Responsibility: After building his first Iron Man suit in a cave, with a box of scraps, Tony understands that its power must be used to help people and begins an arduous transition from a glorified Jerkass Arms Dealer to a humanitarian hero and champion of world peace... who is still kind of a Jerkass.
  • Composite Character: JARVIS is mostly based on HOMER from the comics, with a patina of Edwin Jarvis, manservant to the Stark family and subsequently Battle Butler to The Avengers.
  • Cool Garage: Tony Stark's workshop houses a Saleen S7, a Tesla Roadster, an Audi R8, an AC Cobra and a hot rod. He smashes one of them and sprays debris on another during his tests of the Iron Man suit. In some crates left by his father, we even see Captain America's partially completed shield. Taken even further when Iron Man 3 reveals that Tony has put in a wine cellar beneath his garage, along with an armory built specifically for his numerous Iron Man suits.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Coulson states that S.H.I.E.L.D. are going to provide a heroic example of this — Obadiah Stane is currently on vacation, taking a very unsafe vehicle.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Obadiah Stane, as we learn he is selling weapons to terrorists under the table and spearheaded the effort to remove Tony from his own company.
  • Create Your Own Hero: The Big Bad Obadiah Stane causes Tony Stark to become Iron Man after the latter spends three months in the captivity of an Afghan terrorist group (under Stane's instructions) and realizes just how much evil there is in the world. Forcing him to create the Iron Man armour and eventually using it to become a hero and stopping Stane.
  • Creation Sequence: The movie contains some of the most elaborate and memorable examples.
    • First the creation of the Mk. I armor in a cave with a box of... ahem. Quite tense since Tony is under surveillance by his captors, and has to finish it within a day when the bad guy gets impatient and gives him a deadline. Include the obligatory Forging Scene for the iconic helmet.
    • Then the creation of the Mk. II and Mk. III, in safer circumstances, and thus lengthier and more detailed. Start from the conception phase, helped by holographic technology. Then the manufacture of the separate pieces, including several testing sequences, with variable success.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The first of what would become a staple for Marvel Studios, as the end credits are overlayed with animated schematics of the Iron Man suits.
  • Critical Annoyance: In one fight, Tony's suit is running very low on energy and JARVIS near-continuously reminds him of this, until Tony finally tells him to "just leave it on the screen!"
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Tony Stark's Mark I armor with flame throwers vs. a group of terrorists armed with automatic weapons gives Stark an easy victory.
    • With his upgraded Mark III armor, his return to Gulmira results in an even bigger curb-stomp against the terrorists even though they now have tanks.
  • Cutting the Knot: When Pepper Potts and S.H.I.E.L.D agents are trying to get into Stane's stronghold within Stark Industries, Potts tries to use her company clearance/ID to get in. When that fails. Agent Coulson attaches a device to the door, which turns out to be an explosive to breach the door (instead of picking the lock, which was what Potts thought would happen).
  • Dance of Romance: Tony only notices Pepper romantically when he gets her out onto the dance floor.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Yinsen challenges Tony to snap out of his funk and give one last act of defiance.
    Tony: It doesn't matter. They're gonna kill you, kill me, and even then I'll probably be dead in a week.
    Yinsen: Then this is a very important week for you.
  • The Darkness Gazes Back: In the finale, Pepper Potts and agents of SHIELD are looking for Big Bad Obadiah Stane in his darkly-lit workshop. Pepper notices a suspiciously-large shadow and cautiously stares into it, only for the Iron Monger to power up and two glowing mechanical eyes to stare back at her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: JARVIS takes the cake, managing to out-snark Tony.
  • Delayed Safety Feature: After Tony takes the silver Mark II armor out for a test flight, he miscalculates the landing and crashes spectacularly, but is unharmed and most certainly not on fire. As the dust settles his robot sprays him with a fire extinguisher.
  • Den of Iniquity: Tony's jet is a PG-13 rated version, complete with drinks, stripper pole and lascivious dancers.
  • Description Cut: Stane attempts to make a hasty excuse for Tony's failure to accept his award.
    Obadiah Stane: You know, the best thing about Tony is also the worst thing: he's always working.
    [cuts to Tony throwing dice at a Craps table]
    Tony Stark: Work it!
  • Disc-One Final Boss: It seems like the main antagonists will be the Ten Rings terrorist organization, led by Raza, but it's revealed that they're working for Obadiah Stane, who wants control of the company and needs Tony removed.
  • Disney Villain Death: Double Subverted with Iron Monger. After Tony lures him to fly high enough to encounter the icing problem, we see the frozen Iron Monger plummet down into the city. Tony himself considers him finished as he lands back on the Stark Industries roof and starts removing his armor because he's almost out of power. Cue the sudden reappearance of the Iron Monger and the true Final Battle. In his second fall, however, he's not as lucky, as he crashes directly onto the Arc Reactor, causing an explosion that undoubtedly finishes him off. And that's supposing the energy of the reactor released earlier only knocked him out.
  • Double-Edged Answer
    Soldier: Is it true that you went twelve-for-twelve with last year's Maxim cover models?
    Tony Stark: That is an excellent question. Yes and no. March and I had a scheduling conflict but fortunately the Christmas cover was twins.
  • Do with Him as You Will: After Tony's first "live-fire exercise" with the completed armor, he leaves Abu Bakaar, the leader of the gang of Ten Rings terrorists, to the mercy of the villagers they'd been raiding. The film cuts away before we see what happens to him, but given the Ten Rings had been in the process of putting all the military-age men in the village to death and hauling the women and children off to use as human shields and God only knows what else, his death was undoubtedly unpleasant.
    Iron Man: He's all yours.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: In the final battle, it's pretty clear that Tony's Mark III armor is leagues ahead of the Iron Monger suit and he literally flies circles around it. However, Tony's handicapped by being forced to use the original Arc Reactor, which isn't built for sustained use. A good deal of the drama is Tony trying to defeat Iron Monger using weaker weapons and doing it before his power runs out.
  • Dramatic Shattering: Tony added the repulsors in his gauntlets to serve as a flight stabilizer. When he realizes they can also be used offensively, he blows out three of the glass panes in his workshop in rapid succession.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Obadiah Stane, normally calm and Affably Evil, loses his shit after becoming the Iron Monger, and realizes it.
    Stane: I never had a taste for this sort of thing, but I must admit, I'm deeply enjoying the suit!
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Yinsen has one of these when, in his last moments, he compels Tony to not waste his life.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • This film presents S.H.I.E.L.D. as a newly-formed organization that's still deciding on its name. Later films present the organization as having been an active force in the US Government since shortly after World War II, having been named after Captain America's iconic weapon.
    • Tony is implied, especially in the novelisation, to have had a very good relationship with his father. Subsequent movies in the MCU give him more daddy issues.
    • Visually, the film has a decidedly more "2000s" look to it, the natural end result of it being filmed and released in the late 2000s, when film stock was starting to be phased out in favor of digital cinematography; consequently, the look of it may throw off anyone used to the look of the digitally-filmed movies from Phase 2 onwards.
    • Because the film was largely improvisational due to constant seat-of-the-pants writing and no real concrete plans for a shared universe, Iron Man has a more conversational, free-wheeling feel to its dialogue than the MCU films to follow. Characters constantly interject and talk over one another, whether with jokes or exposition, in contrast to the Marvel Studios' signature house style of trading well-placed one-liners and load-bearing dialogue.
    • The film's tone is also somewhat grittier and more realistic than most subsequent MCU movies, in part due to its lower budget, and also because the superhero genre was just beginning a shift from the more serious style generally employed by the X-Men film series and The Dark Knight Trilogy, towards the more light-hearted and fun approach that would become largely standard for the genre in the 2010s.
    • Terrence Howard plays Colonel Rhodes, whereas he was replaced with Don Cheadle in Iron Man 2.
    • While he only appears in still photographs, Howard Stark is portrayed by Gerard Sanders. He would later be played by Dominic Cooper as a young man and John Slattery in other appearances.
    • The movie is steeped in The War on Terror; later MCU movies would avoid being topical or overtly political.
    • The film gives us The Stinger that we have come to expect from Marvel shows and movies (which DC would later start to adopt as well in some places), but it only has one and it comes all the way at the end of the credits. Hence, a lot of people missed it, which only served to generate more buzz and speculation.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: In The Stinger, Nick Fury is at first hidden in the dark when he starts talking to Tony, before stepping into the light for Samuel L. Jackson's first appearance as the character.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Tony Stark seems to get two moments several scenes apart. In the very first scene, he's drinking, flirting with a female soldier, downplaying yet at the same time bragging about his abilities to nail beautiful women, carousing with a soldier, and making morbid yet situation-appropriate jokes. Then, despite being a businessman who's never seen a real fight, he shows something approximating a cool head by asking for a gun (and, in a deleted scene, actually using one for a few moments), running when there's no other option, calling for help on his phone, and revealing himself to have been wearing a flak jacket. At the same time, his interactions with the lower enlisted personnel show that even the lowest ranking airmen are still worthy of his attention and charm.
    • Pepper Potts' first appearance when she speaks with Christine Everheart, the reporter who Tony sleeps with and then subsequently dumps.
      Christine: After all these years, Tony still has you picking up the dry cleaning?
      Pepper: I do anything and everything Mr. Stark requires. Including, occasionally, taking out the trash.
  • Establishing Character Music: Tony's first scene is set to "Back in Black" by AC/DC.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Clearly Stane felt that a suit that just houses a man wasn't sufficient, so his Iron Monger suit is essentially a weapons platform piloted by the man inside.
  • Evil Knockoff: The Iron Monger suit is a mass production model based off Tony's Mark 1 Iron Man suit. It's bigger, has more weapons, a targeting system, can fly, and is professionally manufactured compared to the ramshackle Mark 1. However, it lacks some of the upgrades Tony made to his later Iron Man suits such as ice protection. Also, the production was not able to duplicate the arc reactor, forcing the Big Bad to steal Tony's to power it.
  • Evil Plan:
    • Obadiah Stane plans to seize control of Stark Industries by having the terrorists he's been dealing with assassinate Tony Stark during his visit to Afghanistan.
    • To achieve his goals of becoming a modern day Genghis Khan, Raza abducts Tony Stark and forces him to build weapons for his cell of the Ten Rings.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Pepper, Coulson, and his men enter Sector 16 and find the Mark I armor. Pepper mistakes it for the Iron Monger armor and remarks "I thought it'd be bigger".
  • Fanservice Extra: Eccentric womanizing billionaire Tony Stark equips his private jet with a trio of stripping stewardesses, complete with the requisiste pole for them to work around.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Raza isn't exactly a fool, but in the novelization Tony realizes that he makes a show of understanding his workshop better than he actually does. Implied in the movie, considering it takes him until the day before Tony's escape to realize Tony isn't actually building a Jericho missile, even when watching him build and test robotic limbs.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Stark Industries could easily be a stand-in for the real-life Lockheed Martin. They're both major suppliers of the U.S. military (and others), and even their logos are nearly identical. The real Lockheed hasn't yet invented a flying powered armor, though. That we know of.
  • Five Rounds Rapid:
    • When Stark fires up the Mk. I, various members of the Ten Rings try to bring it down with arms fire to no avail.
    • Paralleling the previous example, when Iron Monger powers up in the midst of several S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, they immediately start shooting at it with their sidearms. The hapless agents are cut down in short order.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: A hydrogen-powered bus, complete with labeling on the side, is present during Tony's highway showdown with Iron Monger. Right after the passengers and driver evacuate, Iron Monger throws Tony into it. Cue hydrogen boom.
  • Flight Is the Final Power: Explored; Most of the weapons Tony puts into his armor were already engineered, and the only real issue is getting the suit flight-capable. It takes several (sometimes painful) tests before he can finally fly, and even then Tony flies too high and the suit malfunctions from icing over. In the fight with Iron Monger, he tricks him into making the same mistake.
  • Floorboard Failure: Tony underestimates the weight of his Mark II suit and the structural integrity of his house so that his attempted landing causes him to crash through his roof straight down to his basement workshop taking out a piano and sports car along the way. As added insult, Robot Buddy Dum-E blasts him in the face with a fire extinguisher. Again.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Around 34 minutes into the picture, notice the code in the background of the program being run on the Toshiba Tecra laptop to power up the Mark I suit. Apparently, the Ten Rings terrorist organization has a thing for LEGO.
  • Freudian Slip: Tony and Coulson are talking about arranging a meeting while Tony gets distracted by Pepper leading to this.
    Tony: I'll go to my assistant and we'll make a... date.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • A Black Comedy example, but in the scene where Pepper swaps out Tony's Arc Reactor for the upgraded model, when she mishandles the copper wire and then yanks out the electromagnet, the heart monitor behind them buzzes and shifts from a steady heart pulse to delivering a full page of red text. Bonus points in that his Robot Buddy has been holding a light to illuminate the chest procedure but the flashlight head is actually angled toward Tony's face.
    • Reporter Christine Everheart is immediately skeptical of the cover story about Iron Man being Tony's bodyguard. At the press conference after Tony suddenly announces that he is Iron Man, there's a shot of all the reporters leaping forward to shout excited questions at Tony — except for Christine, who remains seated, completely unsurprised by the reveal.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • The running gag about the government agency with the overly long name... which they eventually shorten to S.H.I.E.L.D. Unless you read the comics it's hard to catch the acronym the first few times.
    • According to the novelization (by Peter David), JARVIS stands for Just A Rather Very Intelligent System.

    Tropes G to P 
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • An angry Rhodey lectures Tony on responsibility while rejecting his offer of alcohol during their flight to Afghanistan.
      Rhodey: No, I'm not drinking. I don't want any.
      [cuts to both of them drunk and the flight attendants dancing around a retractable stripper pole]
    • Tony accidentally destroys an F-22 Raptor while piloting the Mk. III, and is forced to reveal to Rhodes that he's the man with the flying armored suit:
      Col. James Rhodes: Now, what am I supposed to tell the press?
      Tony Stark: Uh, "training exercise", isn't that the usual B.S.?
      Col. James Rhodes: It's not that simple.
      [cuts to Rhodes delivering a press conference]
      Col. James Rhodes: An unfortunate training exercise involving an F-22 Raptor occurred yesterday...
  • Going Critical: A Downplayed example. While the arc reactor that powers Stark Industries does go critical during the climax, the reactor isn't nuclear and the movie shows that the explosion had to be intentionally and meticulously instigated.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Tony sums up his new change in direction to Obadiah Stane when he chews him out for shutting down the weapons division of Stark Industries:
    Tony: We're not doing good enough, we can do better, we can do something else.
  • Heel Realization: While Tony wasn't personally, knowingly selling weapons to the likes of the Ten Rings, seeing weapons produced by Stark Industries in the hands of terrorists and warlords (and personally being mock-respectfully addressed as "the most famous mass murderer in the history of America" by the second-in-command) still has this effect.
  • Hero for a Day: Stane powers his own version of the power suit by stealing Stark's portable generator, leaving Stark literally powerless for a short while.
  • Heroic RRoD: Tony is forced to use his original arc reactor after the upgraded version is stolen. During the final battle, Tony ends up pushing himself past its capacity and we see it flickering as the light starts to fade.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Yinsen does this during Tony's escape in Afghanistan.
  • Hey, Wait!: Pepper is copying incriminating data onto her thumb-drive as Obadiah enters the room. She manages to distract him as the copying completes and hides the thumb-drive in a newspaper. She gets up to the office door when she suddenly hears "Is that today's paper?" and he comes over to claim it. A downplayed example in that Obadiah fully suspects something is going on, but Pepper manages to palm the thumb-drive in time. However, she only really escapes because Agent Coulson is waiting for her in the lobby for an appointment she made earlier and forgot about.
  • Hiding in Plain Sight: After Obadiah steals the Mark I from the Ten Rings, he has his development team set up directly under the Arc Reactor, which is built in the center of the Stark Industries complex.
  • High-Up Ice-Up: Nearly gets Iron Man killed when he takes the Mark II armor on its first test flight, but then proves useful in his fight against the Iron Monger.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • One of the terrorists tries for a head shot while Tony Stark's Mark I armor is momentarily stuck... but he's killed when his bullet ricochets off Tony's helmet.
    • The Iron Monger made his suit to be much larger and heavier than Tony's. As a result, when the Arc Reactor detonates, it sends out a shockwave that knocks Tony out of harm's way, while the Iron Monger doesn't budge and takes the full brunt of the explosion.
  • Hollywood Science: Tony's mini-arc reactor. Lampshaded by one of the scientists when asked to take the large arc reactor and make it smaller: " power the suit, sir, the technology actually doesn't exist!"
  • How Do I Shot Web?: The middle third of the film is Tony trying to figure out how to fly. The Mark I armor doesn't so much fly as rocket skyward and then fall, and after building his boot jets for the Mark II armor, Tony invents the repulsors to act as flight stabilizers, and then after that there's the icing problem.
  • How We Got Here: We start with Tony Stark in a military convoy that gets ambushed and he is the sole survivor from his vehicle. He gets out and is trying to get to safety when a Stark Industries missile lands nearby and explodes leaving shrapnel in his chest. After a brief white-out fade, we see Tony tied to a chair surrounded by terrorists reading their demands. Cue title card. We then go back 36 hours to look at the events leading up to this ambush.
  • Icarus Allusion: During the first test flight of the Mark II armor, Tony decides to try and break the SR-71's altitude record. Jarvis warns him of fatal ice buildup, but Stark keeps pushing higher causing his systems to short out and he plummets earthward barely able to shake off the ice and reboot his systems before fatal impact.
  • I Knew It!: An In-Universe example with Christine Everheart, the reporter who had the one-night stand with Tony earlier in the movie. She immediately challenges the prepared story of Iron Man being Tony's bodyguard and is the only one who remains seated after Tony admits that he is Iron Man.
  • Impossible Task Instantly Accomplished: Tony Stark is captured by terrorists who try to force him to build a Jericho Missile. Tony estimates that he'll probably be dead in a week due to his injuries and Yinsen admonishes him to make the most of that week. In what turns out to be about three months, he instead designs, builds and installs a miniature arc reactor to power his heart, then designs a suit of Powered Armor, builds that, and escapes... just as the terrorists were growing suspicious.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: When Tony is liberating Gulmira in his Mark III armor, he suffers a direct hit from a battle tank's main cannon, in mid-air, while flying at high speed. Main battle tanks aren't designed to engage a flying target, especially one as small as a human.
  • Improv: According to Jeff Bridges, there was no script and the entire movie was improvised. Bridges said he had problems getting his head around this style of filmmaking until he told himself to think of it as "a $200 million student film". In an interview, director Jon Favreau confirmed that there was no completed script, and he wrote and rewrote many scenes during production. However, while most of the dialogue scenes were improvised, the action scenes were thoroughly planned out.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After a rather charged dance and Almost Kiss with Tony, Pepper asks for a vodka martini, very dry with lots of olives.
  • In Medias Res: The movie opens with Tony in Afghanistan and his military convoy being ambushed. Tony is injured by a Stark Industries missile, captured by the Ten Rings terrorists and we see him tied to a chair as they read their demands. The story then flashes back 36 hours to show How We Got Here.
  • Insistent Terminology: Tony Stark is the lone civilian riding in a military convoy in Afghanistan. When he learns his driver is a woman he points out that he didn't realize her gender because he thought of her as a soldier first. She quickly points out that the correct nomenclature is "Airman", because she is in the US Air Force.
  • Instant Expert: Averted with Tony. He has to piece together his suit bit by bit and learn how to use it. We even see him learning that his flight stabilizers can be used as weapons.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Pepper finds Tony trying out the first prototype of his repulsors, calling it a flight stabilizer and assuring her that it's not a weapon and completely harmless. Then he tests it and ends up propelled backward, while what's in front of him is destroyed.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Played with; Christine Everhart clearly tries to present herself as this. When she ends up sleeping with Tony shortly after calling him out as the "Merchant of Death" it blunts that image a bit, but she is the one to reveal to Tony that his company is selling weapons to terrorists.
  • Ironic Echo: When Tony misses the award ceremony at the beginning, Stane collects it in its stead and opens his acceptance speech with "Well, I'm not Tony Stark", to laughter from the audience. Later, one of Stark Industries' scientists tells Stane the same thing in a context that's not even remotely funny, especially after Spider-Man: Far From Home reveals that said scientist left the company and turned evil due to constantly being berated like this.
    Scientist: Well, I'm sorry... I'm not Tony Stark.
  • Irony:
    • Much of the underlying plot of the film is tragic irony, as pointed out by Stane:
      Stane: How ironic, Tony! Trying to rid the world of weapons, you gave it its best one ever!
    • The reason Tony needs the mini-arc reactor in the first place is because he was wounded by one of his own missiles.
  • It's Personal: Tony decides to go back to Afghanistan and take on the Ten Rings after seeing they've attacked Yinsen's hometown, Gulmira.
  • It's All My Fault: A mild one, at least. After Tony accidentally takes out one of the planes, the pilot is unable to deploy his chute. Tony overrides J.A.R.V.I.S.'s intention to fly away, and stays until he can reach the pilot and deploy the chute, saving the pilot's life.
  • Join or Die: This is how the Ten Rings recruits. They attack villages and either kill or capture the men. Then, they take their women and children to an unknown location where they're used as hostages. The men are asked to join them, with their families' lives, as well as their own, on their line if they refuse. This is Truth in Television for many terrorist groups and militaristic regimes.
  • Karmic Death: Stane belittled the arc reactor they'd constructed before, so it's appropriate that he dies falling into the same reactor after being electrocuted by it.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: In his return to Gulmira in his new Mark III Suit, Iron Man proceeds to take down the Ten Rings terrorists until he is stopped by a small group holding hostages at gunpoint while screaming at him in their native tongue(s). Iron Man shuts them all up by shooting all the terrorists simultaneously.
  • Kubrick Stare: Stane's expression in the poster implies his true nature.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Tony's little speech about the "realities" of being a superhero right before his press conference at the end.
  • Leno Device: One scene features a segment of Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" television show, warning about the sudden drop in the price of Stark Industries stock.
  • Literal Change of Heart: Sort of. Getting the arc reactor installed in Tony's chest symbolically represents his assumption of the role of Iron Man.
  • Living Legend: Tony's jealous of his own coverage and outs himself as Iron Man.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: The Ten Rings terrorists holding him hostage literally gave Tony everything he needed to build the first Iron Man suit in a cave, with a box of scraps, and escape. This movie is the page image for a reason.
  • Look Ma, No Plane!: The "fight military aircraft" version (though he never actually attacks them; the only damage to a plane comes from it accidentally colliding with him).
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Stark Industries' Jericho missile is basically a tactical MIRV system that breaks apart shortly after launch to unleash a massive barrage of smaller, independent warheads which then seek out their individual targets. This way a single missile is enough to vaporize an entire ridge during the weapon's first demonstration. It's later seen deployed in combat to terrifying effect by the Ten Rings terrorists.
  • Made Of Titanium: Literally. The Iron Man Powered Armor is coated by "gold-titanium alloy". Why? To correct a design flaw that the previous iteration's steel casing had that only manifests in specific circumstances... and because he can.
  • Majority-Share Dictator: Notably averted; while Tony has the controlling share in Stark Industries, Obadiah points out that the board still has rights and was able to file an injunction against Tony when he shut down the company's weapons program.
  • Mauve Shirt: The airmen escorting Tony at the start of the film receive a few fleeting minutes of characterization before they are wiped out by Stark's captors.
  • Meta Casting:
    • Robert Downey Jr. was cast almost specifically because he is a gifted actor who's had drugs problems in the past. He's portraying a gifted scientist and businessman who lives fast and can never seem to put the bottle down.
    • Jeff Bridges is also a great choice to play a villain like Obadiah Stane, because it's a role he doesn't normally play. He makes Stane come across as friendly and likeable, albeit a bit of a smooth talker. And when we learn he was behind everything, we empathize with the betrayal Tony is feeling, because we're feeling it as well.
  • Mighty Glacier: In contrast to Tony's main suit, the prototype Mk. I is this. It can only Slow Walk at most (excluding its flight capabilities), but it's still a Juggernaut and One-Man Army. Though it eventually becomes a full-on Lightning Bruiser when Stane upgrades it into the Iron Monger.
  • Mildly Military: Inverted. When the F-22's are engaging the unknown bogey (Iron Man, MK III, but no one knows it yet), Major Allen calls for Lt Col. Rhodes from "Weapons Development," asking for any input. Rhodey tries telling him to call off the planes. While he does out-rank the major, Allen is the watch officer, representing the base commander, with full authority (and responsibility) for the encounter.
  • Mini-Mecha: The Iron Monger is more this than a suit.
  • Mook Horror Show: Tony's Mk. I storming out of the Ten Rings camp like a killer robot from a fifties science-fiction film.
  • More Dakka: The Mk I suit is wiping the floor with the Ten Rings gunmen until one opens fire on him with a heavy machine gun — a weapon usually used to take out trucks and armored personnel carriers.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • Stane drinking whiskey. He drinks the hell out of it, too!
    • Stane is able to ride a Segway while smoking a cigar and look incredibly impressive.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The music that plays in the casino is an instrumental big band cover of Iron Man's theme song from The Marvel Super Heroes.
    • The first suit of armor Tony builds looks very similar to Iron Man's original appearance in the Tales of Suspense comics.
    • The terrorist group's name, "The Ten Rings", is a reference to Iron Man's Arch-Enemy the Mandarin, who had magic rings on each finger.
    • The "bodyguard" excuse at the end of the movie is taken from the story used in the early comics by Tony to explain why Iron Man was always hanging around Stark Industries (and Tony in particular).
    • The lead F-22 Raptor pilot's callsign is "Whiplash One"; Whiplash was an Iron Man villain and became the villain in the sequel.
    • During the final battle, a Roxxon Corporation building and a movie billboard featuring Fin Fang Foom can be seen in the background.
    • "I'm here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative". Nick Fury did not simply mention The Avengers; Avengers: The Initiative was a comic book that began in 2007.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Agent Coulson's deadpan response to both Pepper's and Tony's complaints about his organization's name makes it clear he's heard it before.
    Coulson: I'm with the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division.
    Pepper: That's quite a mouthful.
    Coulson: Yeah. We're working on it.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: While not remarked upon during the story, the film (released in 2008) is set in 2010.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Tony helped to design and build many of the weapons being used by the Ten Rings.
    • Iron Man unintentionally causes the destruction of an Air Force F-22 that attempted to intercept him (before they knew he was a good guy). But once that happened, he made sure to catch up to the pilot's ejection seat and free up a jammed component, saving the pilot's life.
  • Nice to the Waiter:
    • As part of his Establishing Character Moment, Tony is very friendly to the lower enlisted airmen assigned to drive him back to the airfield after the Jericho demonstration. He insisted on trying to get to know them, even though they were clearly prepared to ride the whole way in silence. It adds a human face to his later decision to shut down his weapons program (as they were among those killed by Stark technology).
    • At the Stark charity ball, Tony stuffs what looks like a very large bill into the bartender's tip jar.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Media dubs him "Iron Man", despite the suit being an alloy of stronger metals. Stark likes it.
    Stark: "Iron Man." That's kind of catchy. It's got a nice ring to it. I mean, it's not technically accurate. The suit's a gold-titanium alloy, but it's kind of evocative, the imagery, anyway.
  • Noodle Incident: Done for laughs. JARVIS is removing Tony's armor, their dialogue is loaded with Innocent Innuendo (well, innocent on JARVIS's part; Tony never met a Double Entendre he didn't like) and Pepper walks in. Tony reassures her, "Let's face it, this is not the worst thing you've caught me doing."
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Avoided in every way the writers could think of. The first suit and its plans are recovered and used as a basis for Stane's Iron Monger. Stark has two functional suits in his house, and the facilities to build a new one from scratch in five hours. If not for Pepper's leaving the original mini-arc reactor as a gift to Tony, Obadiah would have successfully left Tony for dead.
  • Not a Game: Rhodey says something to this extent to Tony during their phone conversation while Tony is in the middle of evading a pair of F-22 Raptors over Gulmira.
  • Not His Sled: For years in the comic, Tony used the cover story that Iron Man was an employee of his using the suit to act as his bodyguard/corporate security. So comic fans would have had every right to be surprised when the movie ends with Tony dismissing this manufactured excuse and instead simply coming out and confessing "I am Iron Man".
  • Nothing Is Scarier: A rare heroic example. During the escape from Afghanistan, the Ten Rings guys running away from Tony lock a door, trapping one of their number with him. We hear him pounding on the door and screaming then silence except for the much louder poundings from the Mark I suit.
  • Offscreen Crash: Tony's assistant, Pepper Potts, is conversing with Tony while he's testing one of the repulsor beams in the suit's gloves. The recoil throws Tony off screen and you hear him hit the far wall a couple seconds later. Pepper's reaction, mainly her complete lack of concern for his safety, is what really sells it.
  • Oh, Crap!: Obadiah's reaction when Tony points out the following design flaw.
    Tony: How'd you solve the icing problem?
    Obadiah: ...Icing problem? [suit cuts out]
    Tony: [smugly] Might want to look into it.
    [bonks Iron Monger's now-iced head; Iron Monger falls to the ground unpowered]
  • Omniscient Database: Variant; when Pepper Potts is asked by Tony to hack into the Stark Industries mainframe from his office computer, she is able to instantly translate the soundtrack of a foreign language video into appropriately accented English by typing in "Translate" on the video viewer's window. This is a case of Shown Their Work — New Scientist checked up the plausibility of this and found that there are programs in development that do the same thing, if not quite so smoothly just yet, nor knowing the accent to use.
  • Operation Game of Doom: When Pepper helps Tony replace his mini-arc reactor with an upgraded model, he warns her not to touch the sides of the casing. When she does, there's a loud "bzzzt" sound and the heart monitor behind them immediately starts displaying a pageful of red text. Bonus points in that he even compares what she's doing to the game Operation by name.
  • Overly Long Name: The Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division. Fans of the comics would know it better as S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • The Paralyzer: Obadiah is shown using a sonic device developed by Stark Industries which can induce short-term paralysis.
  • Pet the Dog: In a deleted longer version of the finished scene, when the scientist Obadiah's berating over the failed attempt at making the Iron Monger suit functional tells him bluntly that he isn't Tony Stark (for context, he had just been told that Tony had built his own first suit in a cave with a box of scraps), he simply calms down and tells the scientist to stop worrying and get some rest, because despite the scientists' best efforts the only one capable of getting the suit to work is, indeed, Tony Stark.
  • Pillar of Light: When the big arc reactor blows up it sends a blue column of what appears to be a focused electrical charge up into the sky which is then caught and dispersed by the overhead clouds.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: As Iron Man emerges from the cave in the Mk. 1 suit, the gathered terrorists all open fire on him, thousands of rounds ricocheting off his sturdy armour. Once they empty their clips and Tony still hasn't fallen, he prefaces his flamethrower rampage with two words:
    Iron Man: My turn.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Attempted by Obadiah Stane near the end of the film, leveling the Iron Monger's chaingun at Pepper Potts.
    Obadiah Stane: Your services are no longer required.
  • Pocket Rocket Launcher: By the time Tony builds the Mk. III suit, he gives it a set of shoulder-mounted rocket launchers. He uses them to handle a Hostage Situation while intervening against the Ten Rings in Afghanistan, simultaneously killing the half-dozen hostage takers with headshots.
  • Product Placement:
    • The Audi R8 coupe is prominently featured as the one car in Tony's collection that he uses as a daily commuter vehicle.
    • The pizza that Obadiah brought back from New York was clearly from Sal's Pizza.
  • Properly Paranoid: The Ten Rings observe that what Tony and Yinsen are building looks nothing like a missile, so they question them and Yinsen manages to sell the lie. Then Raza steps in and forces Tony to step up his plans. Then Raza sees Yinsen on the camera doing something with Tony not in sight and sends men in to investigate again, only for them to walk into a bomb Tony and Yinsen, also properly paranoid, had rigged at the door.
  • Protagonist Title: Iron Man, of course.

    Tropes R to Z 
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Tony has been driven to a state of Tranquil Fury listening to a news report of Ten Rings terrorists causing villagers to flee Gulmira because he knows they are using Stark Industries weapons. At one point he is standing by the glass wall of his workshop as the news reporter says "There is very little hope for these refugees, refugees who can only wonder who, if anyone, can help." Tony turns to catch his reflection in the glass leading him to shoot out the glass wall with his repulsor. He then suits up in the Mark III and takes off for Gulmira.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • There was a scene planned for the climax where Iron Man drives his Audi into Iron Monger, where it flips and he breaks the roof in half and jumps out. The effects team found that A) the car was too well-engineered to flip, and B) the roof was too difficult to cut through. The entire scene was scrapped. Yes, that's right, the Product Placement car was (in a sense) Too Awesome to Use.
    • The unfinished version of this scene can be found on the DVD and, hilariously enough, it references the above flaw: the first thing Tony says to Rhodes is "Did you flip it?", to which Rhodey incredulously responds "No, I didn't flip it!"
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: The movie features many characters talking over each other at times and repeating what they'd already said. This was in part due to the script being left largely unfinished during filming, as the filmmakers had focused more on planning the action and the storyline. Jeff Bridges at one point said he had problems getting his head around this style of film making until he told himself to think of it as "a $200 million student film." In fact, director Jon Favreau acknowledged that improvisation would make the film feel more natural. The action scenes were pretty much the only things that had been thoroughly planned out, and the broadstrokes of the plot. Robert Downey Jr. improvised a great deal of his dialogue, including Tony's entire Jericho missile speech.
  • Released to Elsewhere: Abu Bakaar, one of the Ten Rings' lieutenants, promises that he will set Tony free after he has finished building the Jericho missile for them. Subverted in that neither Tony nor Yinsen believe him for a second.
    Tony: No, he won't.
    Yinsen: No, he won't.
  • The Reveal Prompts Romance: Lampshaded, but averted.
  • Roadside Surgery: Tony receives heart surgery in a cave in the Middle East after being kidnapped.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After seeing the military personnel guarding him killed, months of being held captive, tortured, forced to work for terrorists, and threatened with death on a regular basis, Tony is done fucking around when the Mark I suit is completed and he suits up. He doesn't pull punches and kills everyone between him and the entrance to the cave, then keeps on killing everyone once he's outside. The design of the suit reflects his attitude. It's intended for forward assault and is therefore much more heavily armored in the front than the back. This design necessitates not leaving anyone alive behind you.
  • Rule of Funny: Most of the Amusing Injuries Tony gets when testing the suit.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Tony Stark has a moment like this right at the start of the film, towards one of the airmen escorting him.
    Tony: Good God, you're a woman!
  • Saved for the Sequel: Rhodey looks at the silver prototype Iron Man suit and says, "Next time, baby."
  • Save the Villain: A deleted scene shows Tony trying to save Obadiah after their suits have been disabled. Stane attempts a Taking You with Me.
  • Schematized Prop: Multiple times within the film, including a significant portion of the closing credits.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Exactly what Tony tries to do with Stark Industries, after he breaks free from his captors.
  • Secret Identity: Tony defies this at the end, when he throws away the prepared speech Coulson gave him to be Tony's cover story. Instead Tony ends the film by flat out stating "I am Iron Man".
  • Seen It All: Coulson gives us a glimpse into his Hidden Depths.
    Coulson: This is not my first rodeo, Mr. Stark.
  • Sequel Hook:
    Fury: You think you're the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you've become part of a bigger universe. You just don't know it yet.
  • Setting Update: As originally written, Iron Man's origin took place during the Vietnam War. Due to The War on Terror, the film replaces the Communists with Middle Eastern terrorists and Vietnam with Afghanistan. Dr. Yinsen retains his As Long as It Sounds Foreign East Asian name despite the actor not looking East Asian at all.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Pepper's dress at a party, that she got for herself from Tony for her birthday.
  • Sexy Stewardess: Tony's private flight attendants double as go-go dancers.
  • Shooting Superman: Downplayed. Although the Iron Man armor does its job in protecting Tony, significant firepower does introduce a case of predictably realistic outcomes. The Mark I does an adequate job at first but eventually Tony starts to be overwhelmed by the terrorist's unrelenting gunfire and is driven to his knees before he ignites his rockets to escape. The Mark III survives the mission to Gulmira but the armor is quite pockmarked and damaged enough that Tony has a hard time removing it.
    Pepper: Are those bullet holes?
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: Tony does this during his raid on Gulmira. Several terrorists use the villagers as human shields to force Tony to stand down. Fortunately he has some form of shoulder mounted guns that can target and take down the terrorists before they can harm their hostages.
  • Shout-Out: Collected in a subpage for the Iron Man series.
  • Shown Their Work: In the scene where Stark rides in the Funvee, the driver makes a point of the fact that she is an Airman, not a Soldier. As the markings on the exterior of the humvee show, the three airmen are United States Air Forces Security Forces airmen, whose duties include base security, convoy escort, and ground combat. As it happens, all four branches of the US military have their own ground combat personnel of varying numbers and quality, and all four branches enforce Insistent Terminology when it comes to what you call them (Army has Soldiers, Air Force has Airmen, Navy has Sailors, and Marine Corps has Marines).
  • Skewed Priorities: Upon returning to America after three months in terrorist captivity, Tony insists on first getting an American cheeseburger and hold a company press conference rather than go to the hospital.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Christine Everhart and Tony do the argument version by use of a quick cut from one scene to the next.
    Christine: Have you ever lost an hour of sleep in your life?!
    Tony: I'd be prepared to lose a few with you.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Yinsen. He only appeared for a small part of this movie and made a brief cameo in Iron Man 3. He shares almost as much responsibility for the creation of Iron Man (and by extension the entire MCU) as Tony himself — not only by keeping Tony alive, but by driving him to become a better person.
  • South Asian Terrorists: The Ten Rings, who are based in Afghanistan.
  • Spanner in the Works: Agent Coulson. The meeting that Tony absentmindedly arranges at a party and promptly forgets about positions the government agent at the right time to save Pepper from the Big Bad and gives her backup at a crucial time.
  • Stacked Characters Poster: The poster has all major players stacked upon another.
  • Stealth Insult: Pepper delivers one during her exchange with Stark's one-night stand, reporter Christine Everhart.
    Christine: After all these years, Tony still has you picking up the dry-cleaning.
    Pepper: I do anything and everything Mr. Stark requires. Including, occasionally, [gestures for the bedroom door] taking out the trash. Will that be all?
  • Suit Up of Destiny: Done three times. First with the Mark I armor cobbled together in the Afghan cave, next with Mark II which is taken for its first test flight, and finally the Mark III with the iconic red and gold coloring.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: It's one thing to question the official story, and another to insinuate that Tony's some kind of superhero. Oh, you didn't? Whoops.
  • Tanks for Nothing: A Downplayed example. An enemy tank does succeed in knocking Iron Man out of the sky with a shell and he is shown emerging from his impact crater with blast marks on his scuffed up armor. However, Iron Man easily avoids the tank's next volley and launches his own mini-missile at it. He then turns away from the tank to begin his Unflinching Walk as the tank explodes.
  • Taught by Experience: Stark overrides Jarvis' intention to run a complete diagnostic suite on the new Mark II armor and takes it straight out for a test flight in order get a feel for the new design and whatever flaws it may have. Fortunately, Stark is able to adapt to all the problems he encounters during his flight. By contrast, the Iron Monger, when first donning his armor had no understanding of how to pilot the suit or even shoot straight. With his auto-targeting systems off-line, he can't even hit a human-sized target at six meters with automatic weapons or explosives. The icing problem caught him by surprise, as well.
  • Technology Porn: The Movie. The lovingly rendered sequences of Tony suiting up are enough to generate a pure unadulterated Nerdgasm. Many other tech-heavy scenes can be enjoyed throughout the film, but these easily take the cake.
  • Tempting Fate: Pepper comments that she expected the Iron Monger suit to be bigger. She didn't realize she was looking at Tony's recovered Mark I suit. When the real Iron Monger appears... oh, how right she was.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: We don't really know what the Ten Rings is fighting for. Raza claims it's so he can rule an empire of his own with Stark's weapons, but Iron Man 3 and some of the expanded material have shown that the REAL Mandarin leads the Ten Rings, and that this is simply one chapter of a much larger terrorist organization.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: The Iron Monger suit worn by Stane at the end is strong enough to literally squash people flat. Yet he seemingly deems it necessary to attempt a point blank headshot with a gatling gun to kill Pepper.
  • Throwing Out the Script: At the end of the movie, Tony Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D. had earlier come up with a cover story that Tony was supposed to give at the press conference. After a few questions from a skeptical press, Tony decides to just tell the truth: "I am Iron Man."
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • Paramount marketing put this movie on a heavy trailer rotation for a clean month before the US release, allowing a lot of people to figure out many of the plot elements.
    • Obadiah Stane being the villain isn't made clear until later on in the movie. His lighting and expression on the official poster is a near giveaway though.
  • Tranquil Fury: While watching a news report on the Ten Rings terrorists causing villagers to flee Gulmira, the home of Yinsen, who sacrificed himself for Tony, the audience can see anger building within him because he knows they are using Stark Industry weapons. During the scene, Tony doesn't say a word but the camera is focused on his face and in his eyes you can see a burning rage growing until he stands and unleashes his first repulsor blast. Realizing that his flight stabilizers can also serve as a weapon, Tony suits up in the Mark III and takes off for Gulmira.
  • Travelling at the Speed of Plot: Not a lot of time is spent showing Tony flying halfway across the world to Gulmira after suiting up in the Mark III in Malibu. After a short scene of him engaging super-sonic flight (complete with sonic boom), he is then shown to arrive in Gulmira, just in time to save the civilian about to be shot in front of his son. note 
  • Treacherous Advisor: Obadiah Stane, a major villain from the comics who drove Tony into alcoholism and took over his company, before Stark sobered up and defeated him, is retooled as having co-founded Stark Industries with Tony's dad, then serves as a mentor to Tony and the second-in-command of his company when the elder Stark dies and Tony inherits the company. Naturally, this being an adaptation, Obadiah turns out to be more villainous than he lets on.
  • Trespassing to Talk: At the end of the film, Nick Fury breaks into Tony Stark's house to talk to him about the Avenger Initiative.
  • Twist Ending: Most superhero movies end with the hero's Secret Identity intact, but at the end of the first film, Stark reveals it to the world. This is even after the comic book "bodyguard" explanation is devised as a cover... which is dismissed by both Stark and one of the reporters, remarking on how ridiculous it is.
  • Unflinching Walk: During his raid on Gulmira, Iron Man fires a mini-missile at a tank then calmly walks away. A few seconds later the missile detonates and takes the tank with it.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: Zig-zagged. The Iron Monger suit is based off the older design of the original Mark I armor, and is larger and cruder than Tony's sleek, new Mark III armor. However, the Iron Monger suit is powered by Tony's newest miniaturized Arc Reactor while Tony is forced to use his less powerful original Mini Arc Reactor.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: The Iron Man suit's HUD display is calibrated to appear several inches away from Tony's face to give a good view of the actor while showing the audience how much information Tony has available to him in order to pilot the suit. However, there is so much content (images, charts, summaries, scans, etc) taking up the HUD's real estate in a font size that is readable by the audience, that it's hard to fathom how the clutter would not be obstructing Tony's view and seems to be there to look cool for the viewer instead of being useful.
  • Villain Has a Point: Up until the third act where he steals Tony's arc reactor and leaves him for dead (not to mention all his subsequent actions), Stane's reasons for his villainy are perfectly understandable. Putting a hit on Tony is extreme, but consider Tony is an Idle Rich playboy who yet gets all the fame and credit for the success of Stark Industries, as well as the fact that upon his return from Afghanistan Tony announces he's shutting down the weapons division of Stark Industries, the company's focus for decades, with no plans for what the company is going to do instead, and he keeps a technological breakthrough like the arc reactor secret and for his own private use. No wonder Stane wants to get rid of Tony, he's reckless and damaging to the company Stane helped his father build. (Much of this is subverted by the fact that everything but the fame-and-credit part was a result of Stane's assassination attempt.)
  • Villainous Breakdown: Everything Obadiah does after Pepper steals the evidence of his terrorist dealings and hands them over to S.H.I.E.L.D. including the well-known "Box of scraps" scene. Even his final gambit is nothing more than a desperate, insane bid to drag Tony down with him..
  • Villainous Valor: During his escape from the cave, Tony shows himself to be an unstoppable killing machine, but the Ten Rings men keep on fighting, and even manage to cripple the Mk I suit, forcing Tony to run away himself.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: Tony's repulsor beams started as high powered exhaust emitted by his prototype suit's flight system. Before that, the repulsor was the engine for the new Jericho missile.
    Pepper: I thought you said you were done making weapons.
    Tony: It isn't. This is a flight stabilizer. It's completely harmless
    Tony: ...I didn't expect that.
  • Wham Line:
    • When Tony confronts Stane about selling weapons on the black market.
      Obadiah Stane: Who do you think filed the injunction?
    • A smaller one for those who didn't catch it before.
      Agent Coulson: Just call us S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • The ending.
      Tony Stark: [to live audience] Truth is... I am Iron Man.
    • At The Stinger.
      Nick Fury: I'm here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: A variation, as Tony calls Pepper out for walking out now that he wants to protect everyone he's put in danger, whereas before she had no problem with his reaping the benefits of destruction.
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens: When the outer breastplate is closed during the Mark III suiting-up sequence, the structures surrounding the arc reactor spin counter-clockwise ever so slightly. Justified, as it's the internal mechanisms of the suit helping lock all those pieces it's made out of together.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Perks: While Tony uses his suit for good and takes responsibility for selling weapons to terrorists, we also see that he loves the sheer joy of flying and being Iron Man. His amazed expression during his first test flight says it all.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Tony is forced to use his original arc reactor after Stane steals the improved reactor, which isn't powerful enough for his improved suit.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Stane has Raza and his men killed after getting Tony's first armor suit and its plans.
    Raza: I hope you'll repay me with the gift of iron soldiers.
    Stane: [in Urdu] This is the only gift you shall receive.


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Iron Man

Anthony Edward "Tony" Stark was a billionaire industrialist, a founding member of the Avengers, and the former CEO of Stark Industries. A brash but brilliant inventor, Stark was self-described as a genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist. With his great wealth and exceptional technical knowledge, Stark was one of the world's most powerful men following the deaths of his parents and enjoyed the playboy lifestyle for many years until he was kidnapped by the Ten Rings in Afghanistan, while demonstrating a fleet of Jericho missiles. With his life on the line, Stark created an armored suit which he used to escape his captors. Upon returning home, he utilized several more armors to use against terrorists, as well as Obadiah Stane who turned against Stark. Stark enjoyed the fame that came with his new secret identity and decided to share it with the world, publicly revealing himself as Iron Man.

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