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Marvel's iconic superhero, the inventive genius, the fallible man who saves the world

Industrial genius, billionaire, playboy and visionary, Iron Man, or Anthony Stark to give him his real name, is one of Marvel Comics' most famous superheroes. Although not the strongest, the most muscular or the most handsome, the "Iron Man", known for his armoured armour, has been building up his popularity for 45 years now. In 2008, Iron Man was the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be released, directed by Jon Favreau and starring the talented Robert Downey Jr as Stark. And if you're not already familiar with this flesh-and-blood hero, now's the time to take off the armour and dive into his universe...

Anthony (Tony) Stark, aka Iron Man, is one of the most popular superheroes in the Marvel universe. Long before the 2008 film, in 1963 to be exact, the character made his first appearance in the comic book Tale of Suspense, created by Stan Lee, drawn by Don Heck and directed by Larry Lieber. Unlike the Hulk or Spider-Man, Iron Man has nothing of the traditional Marvel hero about him, no specific powers, no tenfold strength or cobwebs in the air, but... great wealth and incomparable technical skills that he uses to create incredibly sophisticated "toys". Sophistication that would make even the most advanced engineers and scientists pale in comparison. He also uses his armour to save the world and fight the forces of evil. It's an accessory that makes him both superhero and human, because without it, or without fully-charged batteries, he's "just" Tony Stark, the man made of flesh and bone.

And so it begins...

The 2008 film version of Iron Man tells the story of Tony Stark, a creative genius, billionaire industrialist and invested playboy, who is captured by the Ten Rings and forced to create a powerful and devastating weapon: the Jericho missile. Using his intelligence, he designs a high-tech armoured suit in place of the weapon to escape his captors. On learning of their terrorist intentions, he doesn't hesitate to don his armour to protect and save the world, now as Iron Man. A traumatic episode in his life gave rise to his new identity. The former arms dealer gives up his nefarious activities, making Good triumph over Evil.

A runaway success

Iron Man was a major first for the young Marvel Studios. It was a trial run that turned into a worldwide success: in every country where Iron Man was released, it took off at the box office like a rocket. While the film studios were making millions of dollars in admissions, DVDs and merchandising such as geek figurines, the comic book publisher decided to take a different turn. No longer content to simply pocket the licence rights to its heroes, it set up its own production unit and self-financed all future comic book adaptations. After Iron Man, it will be the turn of The Incredible Hulk to ride the wave. And what a wave it is! At the helm of this blockbuster, Jon Favreau is as inspired by the character as he is by the technical team, led by Pixelcreation, who meet with visual effects supervisor John Nelson to translate the comic book page to the animated screen.

Not just a special effects film

This was Jon Favreau's greatest wish. Once the audience had left the cinema, they were not to remember the film's visual effects so much as the characters, their story, their flaws and their qualities. And while the director made no secret of his initial aversion to computer-generated images, he was soon convinced of their usefulness by John Nelson. They are certainly not intended to steal the show from the heroes, but to serve them, to help them develop their personalities. In all, no fewer than 1,100 visual effects shots were produced and 800 were included in the final cut. What's more, to make the shots easier to take, the creative team chose to film a partial suit of armour. "In three quarters of the shots, what you see on screen is in fact Robert Downey Jr. "dressed" in an armour entirely generated in 3D by ILM", explains the special effects supervisor.

Are you a fan of this iron-clad superhero too? Did you spend your whole adolescence watching the countless exploits and adventures of this essential member of the Avengers? Find all the miniature versions of this iconic character in the catalogue of derivative products in our geek shop!