- And You Thought It Would Fail: B-list comic book character? Washed-up actor in the lead role? Director whose last film hadn't been so much of a success? In hindsight, it was the greatest decision Marvel ever made.
- According to associate producer Jeremy Latcham, various writers passed on the film during both pre-production and requests for rewrites. All regretted once Iron Man was released.
- Author's Saving Throw: The Mark VI's triangular arc reactor wasn't very well received, Joss Whedon himself declaring that it sucked. Thus the following iterations of the armor returned to a circular chestplate, and the triangle within the arc reactor itself was dimmed so it looked shaped like a circle again.
- Awesome Ego: Tony, just as in the comics. "I've successfully privatized world peace" is such an audacious and narcissistic thing to claim, but not only is it partially true, he's just so awesome for daring to say it.
- Awesome Music: The movie has a traditional score soundtrack, it also has a licensed soundtrack that contains nothing but best of AC/DC songs used in the film one way or another.
- While the film has a serviceably action-movie score, there's a surprising track of very reverent music when Rhodes arrives at Edwards AFB in what will become the War Machine suit. Seriously, it sounds like the soundtrack for Jesus discovering the Grand Canyon or something
- When Justin Hammer in the second film intros the Hammeroids—sorry, "Hammer Drones"—he uses suitably awesome versions of the four service's respective themes.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: Dum-E, from the first film. Sure, it's an artificially living thing but it has its fans.
- Genius Bonus:
- The Vanity Fair reporter at the beginning of the film refers to Tony being nicknamed "The Merchant of Death." That's actually the phrase used in the obituary for Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, which was accidentally published before his actual death, and was what inspired Nobel to use his fortune to create the Nobel prizes for people, so as to try and make the world better. Kind of what happens to Tony during the events of the movie.
- In the first movie, Obadiah Stane is playing on the piano a piece by Antonio Salieri. In Amadeus, Antonio Salieri is the successful composer who understands that the less successful Mozart is the real genius. Obadiah Stane recognises and exploits the genius of Tony Stark, but he doesn't have any.
- Harsher in Hindsight: There is no reasonable way that Tony's quick whisper-chat with Rhodes (at the Senate meeting) wasn't scripted to reference a certain unpleasant dispute from the first film. "...Next time, baby."
- A newscast in the first film mentions rumors that Tony is suffering from PTSD following his return from Afghanistan and has been bedridden. Come the third film he is suffering from PTSD following The Avengers, and he hasn't been able to sleep due to nightmares.
- Paul Bettany played JARVIS, an AI who's an ally to Tony Stark, a human hero. In Transcendence, Max (Bettany) is an ally to fellow scientist Dr. Will Caster, who becomes an AI upon his death, with Max (a human) becoming his antagonist. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, JARVIS spawns the titular android, so to speak, with Tony becoming one of Ultron's antagonists.
- Consequently, it may be hard for fans of JARVIS to watch the first three Iron Man films knowing that JARVIS will in a sense "die" in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
- Believe it or not, the memetic "IN A CAVE! WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!" scene became this after Spider-Man: Far From Home revealed that the man Obadiah was shouting at was so fed up of the abuse from Stark Industries higher-ups that he quit and joined Quentin Beck's elaborate revenge scheme.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- The jets chasing Iron Man in the first movie are called "Whiplash One and Two." The villain in Iron Man 2? Whiplash.
- After Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. would go on to play the title character in Sherlock Holmes. In 2016, the MCU introduced Doctor Strange to the big screen, who is played by fellow Sherlock Holmes actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
- Memetic Mutation: This very scene.Obadiah Stane: TONY STARK WAS ABLE TO BUILD THIS IN A CAVE! WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!
- Older Than They Think: Many consider Iron Man to be the first Marvel superhero movie to have the hero reveal their true identity to the public (and become a celebrity because of it), but the Fantastic Four did it three years earlier. Although, The Reveal was done by accident in that film rather than voluntarily like Tony Stark.
- Retroactive Recognition: Raza, the terrorist leader, is Captain Richard "Star Trek's Chuck Norris" Robau??
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: With Tony taking the fight to Middle-Eastern terrorists in the first film and refusing to hand his property over to the government in the second, there are some who see him as the ultimate conservative/Republican/Libertarian/Objectivist super hero. Which actually makes sense, considering that Stan Lee has talked about how he enjoyed the idea of creating a character like Tony Stark in the middle of The '60s, saying that he wanted to create "the quintessential capitalist," explore Cold War themes, and that "I think I gave myself a dare. It was the height of the Cold War. The readers, the young readers, if there was one thing they hated, it was war, it was the military....So I got a hero who represented that to the hundredth degree. He was a weapons manufacturer, he was providing weapons for the Army, he was rich, he was an industrialist....I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like, none of our readers would like, and shove him down their throats and make them like him....And he became very popular."
- Jack Taggert's name in Iron Man 3 is given as "J. Taggart." Make of that what you will.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: The Hammer "supermissile" that is attempted to be used against Whiplash. It is very phallic, and fails....spectacularly. All of the characters watch as the missile leaps towards Whiplash, and bounces off, then all three villian and hero alike seem to share a moment of laughter.
- The Woobie: Poor Dum-E is constantly berated by Tony and its servos sound like a long-suffering sigh. The one time Tony shows it any appreciation is when it saves his life, and the best he can manage is a quick "good boy".
YMMV / Iron Man Films