The Iron Man trilogy took Tony Stark on one hell of a ride, but there’s a lot about the movies you definitely didn’t know. From after-credit scene secrets to “Gwyneth Waltrow”, these are the most must-see facts.
Iron Man kicked off the MCU, Iron Man 2 set up The Avengers, and Iron Man 3 was Marvel’s first solo movie to hit $1 billion. It goes without saying then that this trilogy is one of the most important in superhero movie history, and each instalment of the beloved Armoured Avenger’s franchise have some very interesting stories and facts about them which you’ve probably never even heard about.
Production on the first two movies was unusual to say the least, with Marvel going through a lot of different – and often terrible – ideas before settling on what we ended up seeing on screen. Then there’s the filmmaker who had a secret role in shaping those, the Spider-Man character who almost factored into Iron Man, and the way the studio trolled fans with a certain after-credits scene in 2013.
So, what you’ll find here are ten amazing facts you never knew about the Iron Man trilogy…
10. Howard Stark/War Machine Was Nearly Iron Man’s Big Bad
Marvel spent years trying to get an Iron Man movie off the ground, and it was stuck in various stages of production for a very long time before Marvel managed to finally to get the green light, hence why several different versions of the script exist (including one where Tony Stark would have had a talking toaster and been unable to fly). However, by far the strangest was set to involve Howard Stark, the Armoured Avenger’s father.
One early draft of Iron Man featured him being revealed as still being alive, and he would have then served as the movie’s main villain, suiting up as War Machine to battle his son! That would have been quite the departure from the source material, but Iron Man did still borrow at least a few elements from this version of the movie, something which is evident when you look at the father/son dynamic between Tony and Obidiah Stane, a character who becomes not War Machine, but Iron Monger.
9. Marvel Trolled Fans With Extra Long Credits In Iron Man 3
By the time Iron Man 3 rolled around, it’s fair to say that Marvel Studios knew they had us all eating out of palms of their hand. Having made B-List comic book characters into A-List movie stars and delivered the highest grossing superhero movie of all-time with The Avengers, they could have endedIron Man 3 with Tony Stark telling fans to “Go f**k themselves,” and we’d still have loved it!
They didn’t quite go that far, but did still have some fun at everyone’s expense back in 2013. Knowing that everyone would happily sit through the end credits for the after-credits scene (something many suspected would feature Iron Man jetting off into outer space to meet the Guardians of the Galaxy), they stretched the credits themselves out to a full ten minutes. Now, you might think that’s just because a lot of people worked on the movie, but nope, look closely enough and you’ll see fake names like “Gwyneth Waltrow.”
8. Samuel L. Jackson’s Iron Man Appearance Was Nearly A One Off
The scene which kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe is of course the studio’s first after-credits stinger featuring Nick Fury making Tony Stark aware of the “Avengers Initiative.” That scene was actually thought up right at the last minute, and Kevin Feige and Jon Favreau enlisted the help of Ultimate Spider-Man writer Brian Michael Bendis to write it, and after penning three pages of dialogue, Marvel ended up choosing a select handful of lines and shot it in secret with a skeleton crew (alas, it still ended up leaking).
However, this was very nearly a one off appearance for Samuel L Jackson as the character. The actor very nearly didn’t return for Iron Man 2 due to problems with contract negotiations, but later secured a nine picture deal which ensured he would be a major part of not just that sequel, but the MCU moving forward. That’s definitely been the case, though he’s been absent from Phase 3 so far.
7. J.A.R.V.I.S. Was Originally A Human In Iron Man
Ahead of his transformation into The Vision, Paul Bettany’s J.A.R.V.I.S. quickly became a fan-favourite part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Iron Man’s snarky A.I. assistant, but before Marvel decided to make Tony Stark and The Avengers’ loyal butler a computer programme, they did consider keeping him human just like in the comic books.
There, Edwin Jarvis watches over all of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Avengers Mansion (an iconic location which still hasn’t been seen on the big screen), but it turns out that the writers were too scared to move in that direction because they feared that they would unable to avoid comparisons to the relationship between Batman and his loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth. That’s understandable, and Marvel would later introduce a human version of Jarvis in Agent Carter, a nod perhaps to Tony naming his A.I. after the man who played a role in raising him.
6. Tom Cruise Nearly Ended Up Playing Tony Stark
Marvel’s decision to cast Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark was met with a lot of confusion and surprise given his troubled past and the fact that he was at the time a very unconventional choice to take on a leading role in a superhero movie, and Marvel did actually have their eye on someone very different to begin with. Nicolas Cage and Timothy Olyphant both auditioned, but the fact that Paramount Pictures were distributing the movie meant that Tom Cruise was seriously considered for the lead role and actually came close to landing it.
It wasn’t just in front of the camera that things could have been drastically different either. Before Jon Favreau signed up to direct, unexciting candidates like Len Wiseman and Nick Cassavetes were looked at, but also some far more exciting names like eventual Avengers helmer Joss Whedon and Quentin Tarantino. Stiil, it’s fair to say Marvel ultimately made the right choice.
5. Shane Black’s Secret Role In Iron Man And Iron Man 2
Iron Man 3 is a great movie, but that fact has sadly since been lost among all the complaints about how The Mandarin was handled. While it was Robert Downey Jr. who suggested that Shane Black helm that instalment, it should come as no surprise to learn that Kevin Feige agreed, especially as the filmmaker played a discreet role in both of the movies which preceeded it.
Downey Jr. would often visit Black to run some of the scenes in Iron Man past him, and much of what Tony Stark talked about at the press conference when he returns from Afghanistan was inspired by those conversations. In fact, Black actually took an active role in the construction of the first film, and offered up some ideas for the sequel in regards to making Tony a more relatable character. This likely explains why Jon Favreau was happy to return for a key role as Happy Hogan in Iron Man 3 despite clashing with Marvel over Iron Man 2…
4. The First Two Movies Were Made Up As They Went Along
Iron Man remains the best Marvel movie in the eyes of many fans, but it’s honestly surprising that it even ended up being watchable, never mind one of the best ever superhero adaptations. The script that the actors had to work off while shooting the first movie only offered a vague outline of the story and action set pieces, meaning that much of the dialogue was improvised or written on the day of shooting.
It obviously ended up working out, and while Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau reportedly thrived with this approach, it clearly left Jeff Bridges more than a little stressed, especially as he’s since described the process as making “a $200 million student film”, but admitted he enjoyed the challenge and that it turned out great. Iron Man 2 went through similar issues, but this time because Marvel kept adding to the movie in order to set up The Avengers, and this is why Favreau didn’t return for Iron Man 3.
3. Mickey Rourke’s Insane Preparation To Play Whiplash
Mickey Rourke has had literally nothing good to say about Marvel Studios since the release of Iron Man 2, and that seemingly stems from the fact that much of his performance ended up on the cutting room floor. While blaming the studio for his pretty questionable performance seems somewhat unfair, you can appreciate why he’s so annoyed, especially as he put a lot of preparation into this role.
In fact, the actor went to some very extreme lengths to play Whiplash, spending time in Butyrka Prison and even suggesting elements like the gold teeth and parrot (both of which he actually ended up paying for out of his own pocket). The one thing the actor really struggled with was moving those whips around though, and after doing extensive training to get his body used to that heavy armour, he ended up needing narls Barkley’s “Crazy” played on set in order to get into the rhythm of using them properly!
2. Iron Man 3’s After-Credits Scene Was Robert Downey Jr.’s Idea
Iron Man‘s after-credits scene featured Nick Fury telling Tony Stark about the Avengers Initiative, Iron Man 2‘s offered up a first look at Mjolnir to set up the events of Thor, and Iron Man 3‘s…well, it revealed that Tony had been telling the whole story to Bruce Banner. While there’s no denying that the whole thing was pretty funny, many fans were left underwhelmed after expecting to see some sort of Guardians of the Galaxy related tease, but if you’re looking for someone to blame for this one, look no further than Robert Downey Jr. himself!
He was the one who suggested this, but it was actually pretty historic for a reason you probably won’t have guessed. You see, Mark Ruffalo’s appearance here marked the first time an actor has played Bruce Banner more than once on the big screen due to Ed Norton and Eric Bana only having made one off appearances in The Hulk and The Incredible Hulk respectively.
1. Iron Man Was Going To Include A Nod To Spider-Man
Before 2008, no one really knew what a “Cinematic Universe” was, but some studios were still considering having their heroes meet up with others. At the time, a Batman v Superman movie had been on and off the table for years, while Sony at one point very nearly had Hugh Jackman make a cameo appearance as Wolverine in Spider-Man. However, it was Marvel Studios who came up with a clever way to connect Iron Man to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy.
An early draft of the Iron Man screenplay included a mention that Tony Stark played a role in helping to creator Doctor Octopus’ robotic arms, and while it’s never been revealed why this was scrapped, chances are that the poor performance of Spider-Man 3 played a role in the decision. Still, at least Spidey and Iron Man got to eventually cross paths…it just so happened to take a good eight years after the Armoured Avenger’s first movie was released!