Iron Man: Ultimate 2-Disc Edition, Blu-ray, Release Date: September 30, 2008
Sure, in July The Dark Knight came along and wiped every other summer movie off the board — leaving audiences to forget the ones that came before it. And sure, when The Dark Knight comes out on Blu-ray in December, it may just be the type of release that does something similar. But for now, from September 30th to that fateful day in December, it appears that Iron Man is ready to take back that crown with one of the most impressive Blu-ray releases yet.
Yeah, He Can Fly…
Perhaps it was the anticipation of not having seen the movie since my third trip to theaters back in May, but I was instantly ready to get to reviewing the Iron Man 2-Disc Blu-ray release the moment it arrived. As a reviewer, I feel that the film may have gotten short-changed, despite reeling in over $300 million at the box office. While it was the film that kicked off one of the best summer movie seasons in recent history, it also fell prey to a jam-packed release schedule in the month of May. So to see it again, in high definition no less, was a treat. And the transfer from theaters to my theater at home didn’t disappoint. The 1080p video and Dolby True HD sound pounded away as I was able to relive one of the most fun, exciting moviegoing experience of the year. In my book, there is no substitute for the seeing a film on the big screen, in a theater built for quality, but thanks to well-authored BD releases such as this one, we are certainly getting close. The only disappointment was the lack of a director’s commentary — which left me curious about the disc’s special features. But that curiosity and potential doubt was short-lived.
Putting the “Special” in Special Features
But by and large, the experience didn’t hit that next level until the movie was finished — and I was done fast-forwarding through the credits to see the Nick Fury scene at the end. In fact, seeing the movie again was great, but the special features that crowded both discs of this set really blew me away.
On disc 1 there is a special series of featurettes called “The Invincible Iron Man,” which provides an overview of Iron Man’s comic book origins. And even though it is an overview, it is certainly not without great substance. Through a series of interviews with Marvel creators such as Warren Ellis, Adi Granov, Joe Quesada and creator Stan Lee, the creative team behind 40-years of Iron Man gives us a detailed look at how the character has evolved over the years into the character that took center stage in Jon Favreau’s film. For the casual Iron Man fan — those who saw the movie before the comics — this is a wonderfully educational experience.
Also on disc 1 is a slew of deleted and extended scenes, including that infamous scene filled with half-naked, beautiful women that was seen in the trailer, but cut from the final film. As well, there is an extension of the street fight scene between Iron Man and Iron Monger that includes the involvement of James Rhodes that is pretty cool. Not War Machine cool, but cool nonetheless.
Of course, that is all just disc 1. On disc 2, there is hours of behind the scenes footage as part of the 7-part featurette entitled “I Am Iron Man.” Here, we get an up-close look at just about every single stage of the production. It begins with Jon Favreau taking us on a tour of the temporary production offices at Marvel, long before Robert Downey Jr.’s involvement in the film, when all there was to Iron Man was a dream and some cool pre-viz work. Then, we see a lot of the process from the folks at Stan Winston studios, including candid moments with the late Stan Winston himself, overseeing the creation of the 4 iron suits that would be used in the production. It continues by following the production to all of its sets, from Playa Vista studios in California to the Disney Concert Hall to Edwards Airforce Base in California. Then it is off to the Skywalker Ranch for a series of fly-on-the-wall moments during post-production. It all concludes with some very candid moments with Jon Favreau, where he opens up about his own anxiety about the film, weeks away from release. He talks about the response of fans, the response at Comic-Con and WonderCon, and the unknown response that would be had for the final product. As someone who worked the other side of the lines, following the production closely without ever seeing under the hood, I found this to be an amazing look into what that experience was like in the world of Jon Favreau.
And after that almost exhaustive experience, I wasn’t done yet. There were still plenty of other special features, including “The Actor’s Process,” which focused on Robert Downey Jr.’s preparation for the role — which in itself was intense. There was also a look at Downey’s screen test, as well as a Wired feature on the Visual Effects of Iron Man. And for good measure, the disc also includes the hilarious Onion News Network report about the famous Iron Man trailer being made into a full-length film. All-in-all, the insertion of disc 2 started what would end up being a multi-hour journey back through the entire Iron Man experience, one of which I was already very fond — and this only made it better.
And it just keeps getting better…
Even though I’ve completed my Iron Man experience enough to write about the Blu-ray release, there is still plenty more to be seen. There are BD-Live features that I am anxious to explore, as well as another viewing of the film in my near future. But even now, with features still left to be explored, I am secure in saying that there is a reason why they are calling this release the Ultimate 2-Disc Edition — it is pretty ultimate, indeed. I would also go as far as to give it another description, because it is perhaps the most definitive Blu-ray release of 2008. I can’t wait to see if The Dark Knight can top this one again.