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Things seem to be moving ahead on Iron Man. According to IGN FilmForce, the studio is sending the script out to directors who can get production going early next year.
Apparently in earlier drafts of the screenplay, the villain was going to be Iron Man's longtime nemesis The Mandarin (this was news to me, I hadn't heard it until today). Instead, the villain in the film will be Howard Stark, the military industrialist father of Tony Stark (who, for those of you who don't know, is the man under the tin suit).
I'm not sure how I feel about this... it might be a good thing. Unless they decide to put Howard Stark in a suit of armor (which would be a really bad idea) I can see a variety of technological weapons/devices developed by the elder Stark being what Tony (as Iron Man) must combat. Either that or a gang/army of "red shirts" in (hopefully) inferior suits of armor. We'll have to see how it shakes out.
Early on in the development process it was revealed that Iron Man's origin will be "completely different" in the movie than the Vietnam War-era version presented in the comics. Previous Iron Man screenwriter Miles Millar advised Wizard Magazine that Tony is "not really in touch with where his money comes from, unaware that his wealth lies from weapons, and that history comes back to haunt him. ... It's a great arc for a character to begin with, this selfish reckless playboy, that in the end becomes a hero."
Ok, now I can see changing the origin a bit to bring it up to date... maybe the Gulf or Iraq war, or having him as a businessman in a dangerous situation... but just how much are they going to change his origin? He's clueless about where his wealth comes from? Hoo boy. Disconnect the movie version from the comic completely, and as a standalone story it could very well work out great for those unfamiliar with the comic, but I have a feeling that longtime fans are going to get as bent out of shape as Spiderman fans did over those pesky organic webshooters.
Of course we Iron Man fans can be a forgiving bunch... if you just give us some really cool armor in the movie and stick to the fact that Tony Stark is as cool as James Bond and as smart as Jimmy Neutron, and you might not incur our collective wrath. :-)
Yeah, I know we're just a fraction of Spidey/X-Men/Superman/Batman fans, but we're tech heads, and you want tech-heads on your side in this era of internet movie marketing.
Lastly, using the Howard Stark angle brings in the possibility of a big name to play besides whoever ends up wearing the shiney suit.
Iron Man is set for a 2006 release.
Source: IGN Filmforce