Happy Post-Iron Man DVD release day!
Marvel’s first in-house movie is brought to us on Blu-Ray and DVD yesterday in a variety of forms, specials and super-duper 2-disc extravaganzas. Best Buy, Target, Circuit City, Frys and Wal-Mart all tried their best to lure us in with promises of mini-busts, lithographs and special helmet packaging. Don’t get me wrong, the fancier a DVD collection is the sooner I’m there when they’re unpacking their first shipment of DVDs, but we fans know what we’re here for. Marvel’s greatest cinematic achievement to date, Iron Man, at home so we can watch it in our pajamas.
And I did.
So what’s in this DVD bonanza? Is it any good? Does the invicibleness of Iron Man translate well to the small screen? And where is that Stan Lee easter egg anyway? These question and more (plus answers!) below the cut.
Just so we’re all on the same page, I got my copy from None of the Above but instead a little mom’n'pop called f.y.e (For Your Entertainment). Asking for the fanciest edition they could lavish me with, my 2-disc collector’s edition Iron Man DVD (sadly, no Blu-Ray yet) simply came in a slim ‘metal’ case. Eh, didn’t need another mini-bust anyways.
First disc is smartly enough, mostly just the movie. No frills needed, it stands alone amongst its deleted and extended scenes, short trailers for Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Star Trek and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Mind you, the incredible paycheck I get from selling comics for a living was spent on my personal jet and yacht rather than a home entertainment system, so I’m not exactly watching the movie in what could be considered the finest format. There is so much detail put into every shot and component of this movie, I have to admit that a Blu-Ray player and a ginormus flat-screen TV would possibly be as real as standing next to ol’ Shellhead himself. With that in mind, I didn’t feel that my meager little screen and mediocre sound system ruined anything for me at all and everything is shot well enough to be followed from scene to scene and action to action. A movie I won’t name from the Distinguished Competition had a little problems filming fight scenes, shots being too dark or two up close to really get the right idea of who’s fighting who, but Iron Man delivers. Obviously, more money means better picture quality and sound which is never a bad thing, but this movie is well formatted for any size screen.
In addition to the movie, the Deleted and Extended Scenes are a great way to show you how well this movie was put together in its final product: I’ll be honest, a lot of these really aren’t needed and it probably was the best that we never saw them with the final cut. The Dubai Party scene (a long way of covering for Tony putting on the Iron Man suit to go fight evil for the first time) didn’t add anything besides the glorious opportunity to see Ghostface Killah exchange a few words with Tony Stark. The Convoy ride in the beginning of the film is a heck of a lot more violent and rough on Tony and the troops. The scene where Rhodes gives Tony his award post-ceremony is longer and the billionaire is played a little more apologetically that he missed the ceremony. All in all, we didn’t miss much as what was used played betwer with the movie as a whole. Still, these scenes are nice to see and it’s very clear the movie originally intended a bigger part for our man Rhodes, something we now get to save for Movie #2.
Also, this is the disc with the Stan Lee ‘Easter Egg’ (it’s just a little funny symbol between Previews and Man Menu on the Special Features menu). I’m not sure if Robert Downey Jr. is delighted or putting on a good face for the antics of The Man, but I know I’m a sucker for every time Mr. Lee’s in cameo, so the moment is fun and funny.
The second disc is where the extras action is: a seven part feature on the making of the movie, a six part feature on the history of the comic character all the way up to today (‘today’ being pre-Secret Invasion/post-Director of SHIELD), a fascinating look at the three studios that handled the CGI work on the movie with some great step-by-step shots, Robert Downey Jr.’s screen tests, a short shot of a rehersal between RDJ, Jeff Bridges, Jon Favereu and one of the writers and a funny clip from the Onion News Network that was probably hilarious when the trailer was still the most we’d seen of the movie.
Right away, I noticed something was missing: a commentary track. There is no commentary track on the Iron Man movie, rather a series of interviews on the Making Of feature and the glimpses into the actor’s process by seeing the screen tests and rehersal moment. There’s some good and bad to this: personally, I love commentary tracks as it’s a way to really feel like part of the crew on these kind of movies. For example, the Lord of the Rings commentary tracks give off just how much those actors became friends and I think made the experience a little more special knowing that those movies were as important to the people making them as they are to the fans watching. You get a moment by moment play of what stood out to the people making the film as you’re watching it, usually for the second or third time and it seems fresh in their eyes.
Then again, some times you want the actors and director to just shut up and let you watch the film. By doing everything in interviews and features, it leaves the work alone and lets it stand as a more reverent entity. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very clear to anyone watching the movie that the people who worked on this are huge Iron Man fans and dedicated themselves to making themselves as fans happy, but maybe that level of commitment made them decide to forgo yacking over repulsor blasts and steel punches. Maybe they want to make us shell out some more cash for a ‘Director’s Edition’ DVD later down the line.
In any case, I can’t say the DVD really disappointed. I got a few things I had expected (the RDJ screen tests are practically a movie on their own) and in some cases, just what I had hoped for (the in-depth interviews and explanations of the practical effects to CGI) and only one real moment of what could have been in the form of commentary. There are no gimmicks or tricks that take away from what Marvel Studios has accomplished.
This is a film in funny packaging, a delight for kids and a serious discussion on the movie making process for adults.