Iron Man’s success was not guaranteed, and the production team faced doubts and challenges before its release, making its triumph even more impressive. Marvel Studios had to be creative and develop a shared cinematic universe focused on the Avengers since they did not own the rights to their most iconic superheroes like Spider-Man and the X-Men. Kevin Feige, Marvel president, was initially afraid that Iron Man would fail, but he found inspiration and faith in “The Making of Star Wars” book, which helped him overcome the difficulties and release a successful movie.

Due to the MCU‘scurrent ubiquity and cultural eminence, it can be difficult to imagine that, back in the mid-2000s, the thought of an Iron Man movie being made would have been met with confusion and doubt. Marvel Studios, at the time, did not own the rights to Marvel Comics’ most iconic superheroes like Spider-Man and the X-Men, so it had to be creative about the kinds of stories it told. Producers developed an idea for a shared cinematic universe focused on the Avengers, whom they had rights to, and began filming a slate of superhero movies, starting with an origin story for Iron Man.

Through compelling, character-driven storytelling, Marvel was able to succeed in not only making Iron Man and the Avengers pop culture staples but also in changing the cultural landscape for superhero movies at large. Prior to the creation of the MCU, the superhero movie genre was very uneven at best. Iron Man demonstrated that a movie about a billionaire who flies around in a metal suit could have captivating performances that make such a fantastical story feel heartfelt and genuine. Iron Man’s overwhelming success was not guaranteed, however, and attitudes during the film’s production reveal just how risky of a venture making the movie was.

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Kevin Feige Feared Iron Man Would Fail Before Its Final Cut Was Made

From the soon-to-be-released The Art of Iron Man book, Marvel president and executive producer Kevin Feige reveals that he was very afraid that Iron Man would fail even before it made its final cut. Read his full comment below:

“There was a moment in post-production when everything seemed very tenuous and bleak. We hadn’t settled into a satisfying cut, and the effects weren’t yet landing right. It is an awful period in the process when, after years of hard work, you are struck with the lingering fear that, in spite of unflagging dedication and meticulous planning, the whole thing might go pear-shaped. It was around that point that Kevin Feige (producer and Marvel boss) gave me a copy of The Making of Star Wars. It documented interviews and photos done behind the scenes long before the film was ever a hit. When all seemed to be going very wrong. But it didn’t. It went quite well, most would say, when all was said and done. Reading this book gave me the one thing most required for the making of a successful movie (and life, for that matter). Faith.”

It is clear from the comment that Iron Man was a project that Feige and his team put a lot of their time, heart, and soul into, and they could feel the weight of wanting the film to do well bearing down on them in the final stages before release. Understanding that the struggles their predecessors went through helped them take a leap of faith and release one of the best movies in the MCU.

Why Kevin Feige’s Iron Man Fears Made Sense

Feige’s fears are understandable for a number of reasons. Many Iron Man scenes were reportedly improvised, and many parts of the movie were continuously changed as it was being filmed, so being able to choose the best takes and assemble them together into one final cut would understandably be tenuous. Furthermore, his costume is unique in the sense that Stark’s face is rarely shown, and a large flying suit of metal necessitates a live-action recreation to have impressive CGI in a movie that was otherwise very grounded in reality, so the visual effects team had to work to seamlessly blend images of normal Tony Stark and him suited up.

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Additionally, Marvel had to convince audiences to come see a superhero movie in the first place during a time when they were largely unpopular. Iron Man was a lesser-known comic book hero, so there was a lot of pressure to make audiences care about him. And outside of Iron Man the character, at the time, now beloved Robert Downey, Jr. had an unsavory past, and this role was slated to be his major Hollywood comeback. There was a high level of pressure to deliver a movie as near-perfect. Iron Man’s success becomes even more impressive when considering all the obstacles it had to face before release.

Marvel Studios’ The Infinity Saga – Iron Man: The Art of the Movie releases November 14, 2023.

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 Iron Man wasn’t a guaranteed success for the MCU.  Read More