Over at Movie Patron where they put up a pic of the new Iron Man poster I showed here, contributor Andrew James made a comment that got me thinking:
"I gotta be honest, I still have no idea what the hell Iron Man is. Every site on the internet has been posting news and rumors about it for months. I’ve still never heard about Iron Man or even know who or what he is."
Outside of the comic book community, I'm finding that most people have no idea who Iron Man is in the world of superheroes.
I'm a big and long time fan of the character and with the movie coming within a year I've been bringing it up when the conversation turns to movies. When I mention the character I'm usually met with a blank stare, waiting for me to explain just who the heck Iron Man is.
This is not a good thing and I really hope that Paramount is aware of it.
Iron Man is not what you'd call a top tier superhero as far as the general public is concerned. Now for you comic freaks (like myself), don't get your panties in a bunch. In the Marvel comic book universe, he is very much a "heavy hitter." He's always been very powerful in terms of strength and ability, and with the recent Civil War storyline Tony Stark/Iron Man has come to the forefront of the Marvel Universe. Whether you love the character or hate him, there's no denying the truth of that.
However your average moviegoer has no clue who Shellhead is. Once you describe the character they may have some vague memory and say "Oh yeah, he's like Batman/Bruce Wayne, right?"
As I've seen time and time again, the promotion of a movie prior to release can often make or break the film's success at the box office. I know it's early, but Paramount needs to factor into the equation that most people do not know (or care about) Iron Man. Spider-Man, Batman, Superman... those all generate warm childhood fuzzy memories for the average moviegoer, but there's no such foundation for this movie.
Hopefully they are tuned in to this fact and that's why they've made the decisions they have up until this point:
- Bringing in Jon Favreau with his vision of the story as a Tom Clancy adventure with Tony Stark as an ultra-high tech James Bond.
- Writers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, who do not come to the table with an "Iron Man fanboy" background and who co-wrote the excellent movie Children of Men.
- An A-List cast of "serious" actors including Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges along with possible appearances by Samuel L. Jackson and Hillary Swank.
- Industrial Light & Magic on the CGI effects.
- Stan Winston on the mechanical effects and suit design.
I'm no movie marketer, but it seems to me that they might want to try a two-tier effort: One aimed at the comic book crowd and another aimed at the action-adventure crowd. I have a feeling that Favreau wants to really ground the film in reality as much as possible within the constraints of this sort of movie, and if handled correctly that could end up bringing the James Bond/Bourne Identity/Tom Clancy crowd in to see Iron Man when it opens next May.