For some Marvel fans, the Iron Man series feels like it happened a lifetime ago. Tony Stark has gone nowhere, of course, but his appearances have been in the Avengers movies and in the outings of other characters, such as Captain America: Civil War or Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The Iron Man trilogy wrapped up five years ago and there have been no plans for another solo movie for the character since that time.
Tony Stark’s own private adventures might have come to a close, but his story continues to be told on screen through the larger world of the MCU.
By the time the movies are completed, fans are allowed to see them as the big budget spectacle they are meant to be, without having the illusion destroyed as to how things might have looked on set, before any small part of the scene was touched by CGI.
On any given day shooting these movies, they look very different and require a whole lot of faith in the filmmakers as to what the finished product will look like.
These behind-the-scenes images completely change perception of the Iron Man movies. Some of them are ten years old and still show just how impressive modern technology must be to transform these scenes into the iconic moments that fans have come to love.
Here are the 30 Behind-The-Scenes Photos That Completely Change The Iron Man Movies.
30 Tony Gets Ready for a Fight in Iron Man 3
Here’s a shot of Robert Downey Jr. on the set while preparing for a scene in Iron Man 3.
This is one of the biggest action sequences in the movie as well, with the Mandarin and AIM launching an attack that destroys Stark’s house.
This dazzling sequence is a little undercut by seeing just how much green screen went into the scene.
In fact, all of the sequences inside Tony’s house required a lot of green screen enhancement, but the destruction of the home especially called for quite a bit of FX work.
There is some practical rubble on the set, though, as many of these sequences are a combination of on-set effects and digital enhancement in post-production.
This sequence is clearly no exception.
29 Iron Patriot Gets Ready on Iron Man 3 Set
In Iron Man 3, after already being recast with Don Cheadle in the previous movie, War Machine is rebranded as Iron Patriot.
This is largely due to the fact that Rhodes, unlike Stark, elects to act within the government as a military presence. He believes that the Iron Man suit would be best served as a licensed military application.
In standing up for America’s interest, Rhodes is rebranded as the Iron Patriot.
Here, Cheadle has a minute to relax and have fun in full costume before leaping back into the action.
This movie is also Rhodes’ one and only outing as Iron Patriot, as he goes back to being War Machine by the time Avengers: Age of Ultron rolls around and sticks with that name through each subsequent Marvel appearance.
28 Tony in a Harness in Iron Man
Iron Man was the movie that kicked off the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ten years later, everything the fans now celebrate owes itself to the fact that that movie was successful.
The universe would never have blossomed had Iron Man not succeeded all expectations.
This behind-the-scenes shot shows just how much practical work went into that original production, which was the last movie of four-time Academy Award winning special effects guru Stan Winston before his passing.
Winston had famously designed the Predator, the Terminator, as well as the Queen Alien and all of the redesigned xenomorphs for Aliens, not to mention the stunning animatronic work in Jurassic Park.
The now-classic design of Iron Man was his last gift to moviegoers.
27 Tony and Rhodey in Matching PJs Shooting Iron Man 2
Nineteen movies into the MCU, Iron Man 2 is widely considered to be on the lower end with a great deal of people even considering it the worst.
However, there was excitement for Iron Man 2 at the time, especially considering just how hugely successful the first movie had turned out to be.
The biggest draw of the sequel, other than lifting plot lines from the famous “Armor Wars” story, was the introduction of War Machine.
The trailers sold the team up moments as strongly as they could.
That great moment of the two heroes side by side is definitely undercut by seeing how it really looked on set.
This scene shows what almost looks to be Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle in matching pajamas.
26 Jon Favreau Touches Up Iron Monger While Shooting Iron Man
Sometimes the presence of the director can be the number one thing that pulls someone out of the fantasy world of a movie.
This can be especially true in movies where the director also acts, as Favreau still continues to do in the Marvel Universe in the role of Happy Hogan.
However, overseeing an entire feature is clearly a much bigger job. In this picture, Favreau looks over the Iron Monger armor before it finally springs to life in the next scene.
While fans were mixed on Iron Monger overall, many have come to praise Jeff Bridges’ performance as Obadiah Stane as one of the most underrated villains to be introduced into the MCU up to this point.
25 A Slate for Stark’s Suits in Iron Man 3
Perhaps the most shocking shot from the trailers of Iron Man 3 would have to be the slow-motion sequence of each of Tony’s Iron Man suits being blown up.
This is especially interesting, as it was meant to suggest that the Mandarin seemingly destroying Stark’s home and workshop and decimating his life— which did happen in the movie, but this shot had nothing to do with it.
It was a clever idea to use this shot as a bait-and-switch for the audience.
After all, this moment in the actual movie actually comes toward the end, when it’s Stark himself who makes the decision to blow the suits, so that he can move onto a new life with Pepper and leave the burden of Iron Man behind him.
24 Stark Gets Suited Up on Iron Man 3
In the finished movies, the Iron Man suits look dazzling. On set, however, that’s not always the case.
Because the suits are often so heavily reliant on CGI, mock-ups need to be used on set as a reference.
Often, Iron Man will be seen with a helmet and chest piece and the rest will simply be tights or a motion capture suit. This shot from Iron Man 3 is no exception.
Some fans might not be as fazed by this one, though, as the Mark 42 armor seen in the movie appears to be the least beloved of the main armors featured in the series to date.
Even still, it’s jarring to see this behind-the-scenes moment of Robert Downey Jr. wearing essentially what any kid would wear as a homemade Iron Man costume.
23 A Whole Lot of Wires In The Iron Man 3 Plane Sequence
Without a doubt, the biggest and most exciting moment of Iron Man 3 would have to be the plane rescue.
Everyone gets sucked out, and Stark is forced to figure out how to save every single person in the plane as they are plummeting through the sky at maximum speed.
It required staggeringly little CGI and yet it remains one of the best action sequences of the entire MCU so far.
This behind-the-scenes pic reveals that while there is certainly a digital component to the sequence, those actors really were all suspended in the air.
For the most part, the digital aspects only come into play in the removal of the wires that can clearly be seen here holding each person up.
22 Stark and Pepper on a Very Crowded Plane
This shot reveals that the intimate, serious moment between Tony and Pepper on board the private jet in Iron Man 2 was actually way less intimate and definitely required a good deal of acting on the part of both stars.
This picture depicts the camera and the crew only inches away from the actors’ faces.
Moments like this show just how much the actors need to focus on the imagination and the creation of the scene instead of getting distracted by all of the technical elements right in front of their faces.
After all, in this moment, Tony is attempting to tell Pepper that he might not be long for this world, and even if fans are split on Iron Man 2, most agree that Downey sells his performance here.
21 Stark Gets Ready for Some Motion Capture on Iron Man 3
This moment comes from the beginning of Iron Man 3. Stark has abandoned the complicated suit process for something that, at first, seems much more practical.
He has implanted a chip in his wrist to control the pieces of the suit to fly to him and assemble themselves individually, a step closer to the nanotechnology that Stark would later use in Avengers: Infinity War.
Here, though, it’s clear how much work went in behind the scenes to make even one of Iron Man 3’s smaller sequences work.
It’s also funny that while this suit was designed to make putting on the armor easier, it almost never works throughout the course of the entire movie.
20 Jon Favreau Helps Black Widow Get in Character on Iron Man 2
In this shot, Jon Favreau helps Scarlet Johansson get into character for her first real moment as Black Widow.
Up until this point in Iron Man 2, she has been Natalie Rushman, Stark’s new assistant— and then Pepper’s new assistant after she takes over the company following Stark’s drunken embarrassment at his own birthday party.
In this meeting between a hungover Iron Man and Nick Fury, Natalie reveals herself as Natasha Romanoff and steps out in the Black Widow costume for the first time.
It’s a big moment considering just what an enormous presence Black Widow has had in the movies to date.
19 Tony Prepares for a Tender Hit on Iron Man 3 Set
From the same early scene during which Tony is putting on the Mark 42 armor for the first time, comes this behind-the-scenes shot of Robert Downey Jr. preparing for Stark’s first big hit in the movie, a piece of armor aimed directly toward his groin.
Ironically, it turns out to be not as bad a hit as the piece of armor that flies out of the wall and hits Tony square in the bottom, causing him to fall on his face, almost knocking him out completely.
While funny, this scene sets up Tony’s lack of sleep and special awareness, largely due to his developing PTSD following the events of Avengers, which is a running theme throughout Iron Man 3 as a whole.
18 Jon Favreau Takes Robert Downey Jr. Through a Scene in Iron Man
In this shot, Jon Favreau consults with Robert Downey, Jr. over a scene in the original Iron Man.
This is one of the scenes that would result in the shot of Stark in his workshop building the armor, which would be one of the very first glimpses fans got of Downey as Tony Stark.
Much of the first Iron Man movie is spent in this workshop, with Tony tinkering on the armor, building the repulsors and the flight harness before finally designing the armor as a whole.
Because so much of the success of the movie weighs on audience investment in these scenes, it’s important for the director to break down just how it’s going to work and make sure he and the actor are on the same page.
17 A Behind-the-Scenes Shot With Tony and Pepper
Here’s a behind-the-scenes selfie with Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow on the set of Iron Man 3.
While the chemistry is established in both Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3 is the only movie to actually focus on Tony and Pepper living together as a couple.
This is especially interesting because Tony’s relationship with Pepper has continued to define him in the other movies, even up to Avengers: Infinity War, where it’s revealed that they have been engaged following the hints in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
It’s unknown where the relationship will be headed in Avengers 4, or if their strory line will be drawn to a close after over ten years of on-screen history.
16 Stark and a Boom Mic on Iron Man
Here’s a behind-the-scenes glimpse at one of the most iconic moments in the original Iron Man. This is Tony before the accident, smug and self-assured and a full-blown weapons monger.
He has no idea of the repercussions of his weapons or the damage that they are truly capable of.
That’s all made the most clear in this scene where Tony presents his new Jericho missile. It is later revealed that Obadiah Stane is dealing under the table to the Ten Rings terrorist organization.
Unlike many other behind-the-scenes pictures, this one really does show how expansive the desert they’re filming in actually is, instead of being mostly green screen as many of the outdoor (and indoor) shots tend to be.
15 Rebecca Hall Storms Off a Green Screen in Iron Man 3
The terrific Rebecca Hall was a welcome addition to the Iron Man 3 cast as Maya Hansen, a character integral to the Extremis story line in the comics, of which Iron Man 3 is loosely based.
Her character is a brief, one-time love interest of Tony’s who also happens to be one of the top minds in her field.
This shot showcases just how much green screen went into even the smaller moments of the movie. This is not a big, special effects sequence, after all.
In this scene, Maya is simply walking into Tony’s mansion for the first time for a conversation with him that turns into a bit of a spat. It quickly devolves into an attack, but this particular scene isn’t something that one would expect to be so reliant on VFX.
14 Tony and Rhodey on a Very Small Oil Rig in Iron Man 3
The climactic finale battle of Iron Man 3 takes place on a huge Roxxon oil rig, where Stark and Rhodes have to save both Pepper and the President of the United States from Aldritch Killian and the Extremis virus.
Featuring a battle between every Iron Man suit and dozens of Extremis soldiers, it’s the best action sequence of the whole movie.
However, very, very little of it was actually built on the set.
This shot shows a single platform with Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle on it. Everything else around them being green screen.
Unlike other scenes, it’s not a surprise that this one is so dependent on CGI, given the spectacle of it. However, it’s interesting to see how the two are blended together.
13 A Break from Boxing on Iron Man 2
One of the more unique aspects of Iron Man 2 is the decision to introduce Black Widow via a boxing sequence.
Even before she enters the scene, it plays to the eccentric elements of Stark as a character-- that he would just be boxing with Happy while going over important paperwork.
However, the reality is also that combat skills are kind of necessary-- even for someone as armor-dependent as Tony-- as Iron Man 3 later turns out to completely revolve around how well he can handle himself outside the armor.
This behind-the-scenes shot showcases Downey Jr. and director Jon Favreau taking a break from filming the sequence.
It also shows off just how physical Favreau is willing to get as a character in his own movie.
12 Black Widow Gets Lowered from the Ceiling in Iron Man 2
This is a very neat behind-the-scenes look of Black Widow coming down through the ceiling.
In this scene, she is infiltrating Whiplash’s workstation and shutting down the Hammer drones.
It works, except for the fact that she’s too late to stop the villain himself, as he has already disappeared and donned his own homemade armor.
Still, during this scene, Black Widow gets her own fight sequence for the first time in one of the movie’s standout moments. It could even be seen as a precursor to the hallway fights that keep defining the Marvel Netflix shows.
While she misses taking out Whiplash, Black Widow does manage to shut down the drones and stop the invasion, so her efforts aren’t wasted.
11 Iron Man in Tights on Iron Man 3 Set
In this shot, star Robert Downey Jr., director Shane Black, and a stunt man in an Iron Man mock-up go over the scene.
This is interesting because there are definitely scenes in Iron Man 3 in which the armor acts independently of Tony, with him controlling it remotely.
Even though the armor is unmanned in the movie itself, that suit is of course played by an actor on set. It serves as a reminder that, technically, fans’ favorite heroes are played by several different people, from stunt teams to motion-capture actors and more, when all is said and done.
Because of that, this is a neat glimpse into that process and shows just how many people don’t get the credit they deserve for the part they play in these movies.
10 Another Behind-the-scenes Boxing Moment from Iron Man 2
This scene depicts Natasha Romanoff in her introduction as Natalie Rushman before her brief fight with Happy Hogan during this boxing sequence in Iron Man 2.
Playing Happy, director Jon Favreau takes a moment to go over the scene with her.
Many different actresses were seen for the part of Black Widow. Knowing that she would appear in The Avengers and beyond, Marvel needed to find the right person.
Emily Blunt appeared to be the favorite for a long time, but it turned out to be Johansson who won the role.
Over time, Johansson has become one of the biggest assets to the MCU and to the Avengers as a team, and it all began with that introduction in one of the most maligned features in the Marvel canon.
9 Pepper Gets Swept Away in Iron Man 3
In this scene, Pepper Potts dons the armor for the first time so that she can rescue Maya Hansen and get her out of the collapsing Stark mansion.
This is an homage to the fact that in the comics, Pepper actually does don an armor of her own and becomes Rescue.
Unlike Stark’s Iron Man suit, Pepper’s Rescue armor is designed solely for disaster relief, which would have made her an excellent new hero to join the movies.
Unfortunately, this was Pepper’s one and only chance to really showcase her heroic side.
The Extremis virus was later removed from her system and she never donned the armor again.
8 Even the Airstrip Gets Green Screen in Iron Man 2
Once again, it’s stunning to see how much really goes into the most basic scenery in these movies. This scene at Stark’s private airstrip in Iron Man 2 could easily have been filmed on an actual airstrip, but for the purposes of timing and convenience, it was shot against a green screen instead.
This is the plane on which Stark attempts to confess the fact that he is being poisoned by the arc reactor to Pepper.
It’s also the plane that sees Stark brought back from his escape from the terrorist organization that caused him to have the arc reactor put in his chest to begin with.
Even still, it’s surprising that such a simple shot would require so much digital enhancement in post-production.
7 Sharing the Laughs Shooting Iron Man 3
This is a fun moment of Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow shooting a scene in Iron Man. This is a fun change of pace from the way the first two movies played out.
In other BTS shots, we say Pepper in the Iron Man armor, which would've been great too. The notion of seeing Pepper in the armor was definitely used to get fans excited about the prospect of Iron Man 3, and because of that, it’s unfortunate that her scenes in the armor are so short.
Even still, given that it was the last Iron Man movie that Marvel seems to ever release, it was a good idea to give Pepper some action beats before bringing the solo series of films to a close.
6 Goofing Around in the Iron Man Armor
Here’s an interesting shot of Robert Downey Jr. in his armor before he's about to get started on a scene.
The arc reactor in the center is lit practically on the set, which is surprising considering just how much CGI work is clearly going into bringing Iron Man to life in this scene.
It’s hard to say exactly which moment in the movie this is, though it’s obviously a scene in which Stark isn’t wearing the helmet.
It certainly takes a fan out of the movie, though, to see the actors goofing off and even making inappropriate gestures behind the scenes.
However, at the same time, it’s nice to see a reminder that people are genuinely having fun working on bringing these massive blockbuster stories to life.
5 Iron Man Attacks the Camera on Iron Man 3 Set
This is another shot of Tony’s workshop in Iron Man 3, with the previous armors in the background. It’s a very refreshing to see a behind-the-scenes shot in which the armor is completely practical and working with light up eyes and chest piece on the set.
Viewers tend to forget that there is anything except CGI in these movies and pictures like this can serve as a nice reminder.
It’s especially nice to see in a movie that sees Tony Stark outside of the armor for the bulk of the feature.
Many fans were unhappy with the color palate of the Mark 42 armor as well, as it essentially reverses the color scheme to include less red than previous Iron Man armors.
4 Black Widow Clears the Room in Iron Man 2
This behind-the-scenes shot comes from Black Widow’s fight sequence in Iron Man 2. As stated, this was one of if not the very best action sequences from Iron Man 2 and it required almost no CGI at all.
Black Widow cemented herself as a realistic heroine inside of an increasingly unreal world and that’s what made fans wanted to see so much more of her as the MCU continued.
This was the first time that fans got to see a Marvel movie within this universe with a female hero upstaging her male co-stars.
The punchline of this whole scene, after all, is that Widow has cleared out the room from all of Hammer’s goons while Happy has managed to take down exactly one person.
3 Iron Man and Iron Patriot Armors Revealed in Iron Man 3
This behind-the-scenes photo was one of the first glimpses fans had into Iron Man 3.
These two inanimate suits showed off just a taste of what the sequel had to offer. Many fans began to create theories the new suits, especially the inclusion of the Iron Patriot.
By 2013, fans had already begun speculating whether or not there was going to be a deal to include Spider-Man in the MCU at some point.
In the comics, Iron Patriot is actually Norman Osborn, so fans began wondering if that meant he would make his way into the MCU.
Of course, when the movie was finally revealed, Iron Patriot turned out to simply be a militaristic rebranding of War Machine to serve as America’s poster boy super soldier.
2 Getting the Mark I Ready in Iron Man
This shot from Iron Man takes fans all the way back to the beginning. This might be a cinematic universe consisting of twenty movies, but it all began with Tony Stark in a cave, forced to think his way out of a situation that seemed absolutely dire.
People weren’t even given much reason to care about this guy at first, outside of his sincere likability.
However, after Stark’s rude awakening, waking up in a cave with shrapnel in his chest and forced to design a missile from scratch, it was easy to want him to find any possible way out of that situation.
This is a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the moment that Stark’s way out becomes the thing that would define his entire life. It’s the creation of Iron Man.
1 Kevin Feige, Jon Favreau and Gwyneth Paltrow Discuss a Scene on Iron Man
There’s nothing special about this image at first glance-- no Iron Man, no hints at huge CGI enhancements, just a conversation between an actor, director and producer.
However, in some ways, it’s the most important picture on the list. This is a conversation involving two of the minds that laid the foundation for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Feige has guided the ship from that first movie onward, but Favreau is the director that made the vision work so well.
This conversation is important because Iron Man made the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe happen.
The movie was a phenomenal success, and because of that success, so many other now-iconic movies were allowed to happen. A universe was born.
What do you think of these behind-the-scenes images? Do they completely change Iron Man? Sound off in the comments!