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Film / Iron Will

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Iron Will is a 1994 adventure/sports film released by Disney, directed by Charles Haid and starring Mackenzie Astin, Kevin Spacey, and David Ogden Stiers.

In 1917, seventeen-year-old Will Stoneman watches his father drown. To save the family farm, he enters a five-hundred-mile sled dog race in Manitoba. He puts himself through harsh training and wins beyond all expectations, attaining the title "Iron Will".


Has the examples of:

  • The All-American Boy: Will, a rookie racing on his own with nothing but some fruitcake for food, his dogs and a very old sled, running some absurdly long odds. The Title Drop is the nickname the press gives him as they sell his story to the public.
  • Badass Creed:You have one chance. You must run at night when the others have stopped. Run with the moon. Embrace the darkness. Grow hard with the cold. Put pain from your mind. And on the last day, when all will at night... you alone will be friendly with the dark.
  • Badass Mustache: Joe McPherson the only other American musher (an experienced one who is supportive of Will) has a notable mustache.
  • Cut the Safety Rope: How Will's father sacrifices himself at the beginning of the film. It was either him or Will and the dogs being dragged into a frozen lake, and he made the call while Will was begging him not to.
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  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Angus McTeague who cares far more about winning his bet than the lives of his mushers and is constantly trying to discourage Will or have him pushed out of the race.
  • Determinator: Will. All of the other racers have some experience and enough gear, but he has pretty much nothing other than the clothes on his back, the dogs, the sled and some fruit cake for food, running some absurdly long odds against survival, let alone winning.
  • Distressed Dude: Musher Gunnar Tveit, who nearly is lost and dies out there after going out into the cold with too little rest, before Will finds him and takes him to the next station.
  • The Dog Bites Back: A literal example! When his dogs stop out of exhaustion, Borg attempts to brutalize them into continuing. His abusive threats only prompt his dogs to attack him.
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: Harry's backing of Will has shades of this.
  • Epic Race: The Iditarod Race has always been epic, but the 1800s version of it even more so.
  • Good Parents: Will's parents. His father is the one who taught him how to dog sled. His loss is obviously a great tragedy.
  • Heroic Dog: Gus, the leader of Will's sled pulling team.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Harry is a headline-chaser who sponsors Will's entry in the race and follows it intently while covering his feats.
  • Magical Native American: Ned, a family friend who prepares Will for the race.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Borg's own dogs begin attacking him when he pushes them too far.
  • Kick the Dog: Borg literally kicks Will’s lead dog, Gus one night before the race begins. During the race, Borg sends his most vicious dog to attack Gus. Finally, Borg attempts to brutalize his own dogs when they stop near the end of the race.
  • The Magnificent: Iron Will. The nickname the press gives him as they catch on to his story and sell it to the audience, because they know underdogs sell papers.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: Will outruns a train at the beginning of the film on a mail run.
  • Save the Villain: When Will sees Borg being attacked by his own team, the former saves the latter by firing his pistol just to scare the vicious dogs away.
  • Scenery Porn: Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy frozen Canada.
  • Self-Made Man: Implied with Harper, based on a speech he makes in Will's favor.
    Harper: Have we come, so far that we've forgotten what it's like to start out with nothing but a dim chance and a bright hope? I will not be the one to snuff that hope, gentlemen. Not I.
  • Sibling Team: Mushers Albert and Gabriel Carey. They are based off of real life mushers Albert and Gabriel Campbell, who competed in the actual 1917 Iditarod, with Albert being the actual person Will Stoneman is based off of.
  • Sled Dogs Through the Snow: The whole plot. It's about a young man undergoing grueling training to win a dog-sled race and take the money home.
  • Training from Hell: From Ned who makes Will work all day and night, sleep in the cold and such to prepare him.
  • Trauma Button: After losing his dad, Will has no desire to sled through frozen rivers ever again. When some kids offer to show him s shortcut, Will agrees but the moment he sees it involves going through a river he chickens out and decides to use a train bridge to cross... which almost leads to everybody getting run over by a train. At the climax, because it's all or nothing, is when Will finally gets over his fear.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Harper doesn't throw his money around, but he has shades of this character as the race goes on and he watches Will's accomplishments.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Will is a teenager and novice, going against veteran mushers. Naturally he wins.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Vaguely inspired by the racer Albert Campbell.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: J.W. Harper expresses disappointment in Harry for just seeing Will as a way to sell papers at first, and possibly risking his life.


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