Collider Goes to the Set of IRON MAN!

     March 31, 2008

On June 13th, 2007 I was able to go to the set of “Iron Man.” Since that day, I’ve been waiting and waiting for Paramount to give me the all clear so I could post the interviews and write about what I saw. Well, after almost a year, the embargo has been lifted and I’m running everything tonight!

The first thing to know is, back when Paramount invited a group of online journalists to the set, no one had seen one frame of the movie. This was before last year’s Comic-Con, before the trailers, before anyone knew if the movie would be great, or a big pile of crap. This was the first moment that anyone outside of the studio was going to see anything.

It was also the day I realized “Iron Man” was going to be something really special.

Venturing onto the lot down in Playa Del Vista, I was accompanied by around 12 or 15 other journalists. In fact, if you look around cyberspace tonight and tomorrow, you’ll see who else was there as we’re all going to be running our coverage.

When we got to the studio we were led down to the production office and from there we made our way to a massive sound stage. Walking through the production office you could see as all of us trying to look at the walls to try and gleam any new info that had not yet been made available. It was a funny sight to see.

Anyway, when we arrived in the soundstage we got situated in Tony Stark’s basement (picture below). By now all of you have seen the trailers or photos from the movie. The area we sat in is where Tony builds the armor and invents his creations. While most of the filming had already wrapped in the location, we were able to walk around and imagine what had gone on in the space. Someone told us that it housed his cars and a lot of cool stuff had been filmed in the room. After watching the trailers, I know what they meant.

Anyhow, while most of you would think that a movie set is really exciting and the place to be….actually…it’s not. Things move pretty slow as setting up the camera takes time. So while you constantly want to see new things or explore the area, due to all the filming and building around us…we actually were able to spend a lot of time just talking and catching up. It’s very weird being on a movie set and while it’s very cool, you really need to be very patient.

Finally, after a bit of time, we started doing interviews with some of the cast and those interviews are online tonight on the front page.

When we were able to go to other parts of the soundstage, we walked inside what was left of Stark Industries headquarters. We saw Tony’s office as well as where Jeff Bridges office was. We didn’t get to see a lot in the offices as the sets were already mostly broken down….but it was cool to stand there.

From there we got to see some of the caves which you’ve seen in the trailers and we also were able to walk around underneath Stark Industries. If you’ve seen the trailers, it’s the area where a big robot battle takes place.

Out of all the sets we saw to that point, the basement of Stark Industries was the most put together and it felt real. When you ran your fingers over the metal guard rails or the walls, everything looked and felt real to the touch. Let’s just say it wasn’t a cheap set.

While walking around someone told us it was a 4 month shoot and an eighty day schedule. Since I don’t know the average of how long it takes to film a movie, I’ll have to let that info exist without editorializing it.

After getting to walk around and seeing the inside of Tony Stark’s jet, we all made our way back to the basement set and that’s when it finally got GREAT.

Since there were a lot of us, in small groups of 4 or 5, we were taken to the set where they were filming. When we got there, we walked up a flight of stairs and that’s when we all realized we were inside Tony Stark’s house. Actually, we were up the pretend flight of stairs that we could see from the basement set that we were all waiting in. Anyway, the few of us in my group walked inside and got to see the house. Since they were busy and getting ready to film, we were asked to walk against the far wall and stay near it as the camera could pick up the area right in front of us.

After a few moments they started filming and Robert walked in and made his way to the window. This was the scene when he first got home after escaping from the prison where he built the first suit of armor. As he walked along, we could see he was hurt and had cuts and bruises. He walked like he was very weary and couldn’t believe he was home.

Since this was Tony Stark’s house, naturally it was high tech. As Robert walked toward the window, the house started to turn on. First the fountain started up, then the lights, followed by other smaller things. Finally, Robert made his way to the window and he was overlooking the (fake) Pacific Ocean. As he stood there he started playing with the window and we realized this was a touch screen that would be added in later as a CGI effect. As he was looking at whatever will be on the screen, a computer voice came on and said he had 1,719 voice mails.

The thing to know about the view outside the house was…it looked absolutely real. Seriously, I studied the background the best I could from my vantage point and was blown away by the attention to detail and how it looked like I was in Malibu overlooking the ocean. Since the details were so amazing, once they add the CGI to the scene I think people will believe they filmed in Malibu and not a soundstage.

After a few takes, we were led out as they needed to cycle in the other journalists. Honestly, I could have stayed there all day watching Robert work. Although I only saw him do the scene a few times, each time he did the same thing but it was different. He either walked a different way or had a different gleam in his eye. It was fascinating to watch.

While certain things are a blur from that day, the one thing I vividly remember was walking back from watching Robert do the scene and realizing the “Iron Man” movie was going to be great. For me, it was that moment that I let it all sink in. While we had all been discussing in cyberspace how cool it was that Robert Downey Jr. was going to be Tony Stark, it was seeing him act as Tony that I realized it was not only going to work, but the movie had to chance to be much better than I’d ever dreamed. And since the trailers and footage has been put online, I know a lot of you agree with my assessment from that day.

Anyway, that’s pretty much what I saw on June 13, 2007. I wish I could report more, but I didn’t see anything else. Since that set visit I’ve done a few others and can tell you that each movie is its own universe. Some let you explore the world and see everything, some let you see just enough, and some are like “Iron Man,” they let you explore a lot of the movie but keep most of the surprises tucked away so even a jaded online journalist can be surprised opening day at the movies.

Of course I need to take a moment to thank everyone at Paramount who made this set visit possible. As a fan of comic book movies and of the “Iron Man” comic, I am 100% sure we are about to get a movie that will raise the bar for the genre, and I can’t wait to finally see it May 2nd.

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