Way back in May of 2007 -- about a year to the day before "Iron Man" hit movie screens -- the internet caught their first glimpse at the gold and red armor in motion, courtesy of IESB.net
Ronnie Adams, a freelance photographer, managed to get close enough to the set to capture some images of Stark's alter ego engaged in a to-be-cg'd later battle.
The images went up on IESB and Paramount came down hard.
Immediately, Paramount managed to contact IESB's hosting service and actually pulled the site offline. The internet wasn't happy. After all, the pictures were obtained and published legally.
The matter was discussed with Robert and Stephanie Sanchez, editors of IESB, in an interview at Cinematical.
Paramount's -- potentially illegal -- overreaction gave IESB all kinds of rallied support. In no time it was back up and, by way of apology, IESB was treated to full "Iron Man" press coverage, including interviews and a set visit.
Robert Sanchez apparently got a kick out of the situation and made up a T-shirt for his visit that read, "Got Spy Footage?" that was met with laughs by fellow journalists and crew members alike.
Jon Favreau must have gotten a kick out the situation himself because -- as an inside joke -- he ended up using IESB's spy photo in the film. At the end of the movie, Tony Stark holds a newspaper with the headline, "WHO IS THE IRON MAN?" and, beneath it, there's the image. It's a cute little reference, poking fun at the whole ordeal. Right?
Not necessarily. Though IESB seemed pretty pleased with the joke, it came out later that Adams had filed a lawsuit against Paramount and Marvel Studios for the illegal use of his image.
There's a number of ways to feel about this and all sorts of rights and wrongs to point out, but the end result is that the case -- still, it seems, unsettled -- has led to the image being removed from the DVD version of "Iron Man", replaced with a decidely more vanilla close-up of the hero.
Of potential interest is the conflicting information provided by the lawsuit and by IESB. It's a common practice among online sites to avoid legal entanglements (or other investigations) by claiming that bits of news -- media or otherwise -- came from "spies". IESB's original story suggests that the photos were sent by someone close to the film from within a secure area while the suit argues that the photos were taken from a parking garage in a public area.
We've contacted both Sanchez and Adams for comments and I'll update the story as word comes in (though I'm venturing a guess that, if the case is still pending litigation, they may not be free to speak on the matter).
I won't comment as to my personal thoughts about the matter -- other than to say that I have a hard time fully respecting either side's actions -- but , in the end, we're left with a version of "Iron Man" that is not what we saw in theaters and for the fans, that's too bad.
This is the original image that was in theaters