Today, May 2, is the eighth anniversary of the release of Iron Man. Things haven’t been quite the same since.
Originally, Quantum of Solace, the 22nd James Bond film, had that release date. That was always going to be ambitious, given that Casino Royale came out in the late fall of 2006.
Eventually, Sony Pictures, Quantum’s distributor, decided it couldn’t be met. The 007 film would be released in the fall. Truth be told, given the issues Quantum had as it was, shooting for a May 2008 release likely would have made things worse.
Nevertheless, that move opened up the May 2 slot for Iron Man, the first movie Marvel would produce itself instead of leasing characters to other studios.
Marvel had an ambitious plan — starting a movie “universe” of connected characters. To make it work, though, Iron Man needed to be a hit. Marvel was taking a chance on star Robert Downey Jr., a talented actor, but one who had a history of personal problems.
The gamble paid off. Iron Man was a hit. Walt Disney Co. later bought Marvel because of its movies and characters.
Eight years later, Downey Jr. is still the biggest star in the Marvel movie universe. He’s a major presence in Captain America: Civil War, which makes its U.S. debut this week.
Meanwhile, Civil War is the start of Marvel’s Phase III of films. Until Iron Man came out, nobody talked about “phases” of movies. Happy anniversary.