Article

REDESIGNING IRON MAN

 

In this article we look at the new armors that are featured in the upcoming Iron Man 2 movie!

“One of the keys to the success of the first film was that the Iron Man armor was a believable piece of advanced technology and hardware,” says Iron Man 2 producer Kevin Feige.

“It wasn’t a magic suit or a super-powered outfit. It was made from a character’s blood, sweat and tears and really looked like a grinded, sparked and screwed-in piece of technology. What audiences saw on the screen was a fantastic combination of ILM's digital work combined with the amazing practical work of Stan Winston’s group. Stan was the best in the business, a true genius. For Iron Man 2, we brought Shane Mahan back on board, who is continuing Stan’s legacy under the new company banner, Legacy Effects. Shane and his team of technicians came into the first meetings with an excellent plan for what the practical suits would be for this film.”

For Mahan and his team of artists, coming back to work on the sequel was far less the kind of trial and error they experienced in designing the suits for the first film.

“There was a steep learning curve and long experimental phase in trying to figure out how to make the suit on the first film,” Mahan explains. “The one mandate from Marvel on the first film was that Iron Man never look or feel simply like a guy in a suit. Although great costumes like that had been created in the past, what the filmmakers wanted was to take the comic book character’s proportions on the page and bring them to life. For my team, it was a monumental challenge to build a full suit that had the right proportions, because there just weren’t any human beings that have big broad shoulders, tiny, tiny little hips, and a head the size we needed to fit into the helmet. After some modifications to the suit, we were able to find some talented stuntmen performers who were very athletic and able to fit into the suit.”

Mahan continues: “We had a much shorter window to build the suits for Iron Man 2 but we knew the landscape better this time around. The filmmakers really wanted to make the armor lighter and faster for Robert to put on and take off.”

Another decision the filmmakers and Mahan made was that, during production, the Iron Man armors Downey wore would be a half suit, allowing the actor to move more naturally.

"Tony Stark's always upgrading his suit with new ideas and gadgets . . ."

“The big puzzle Shane had to solve was how to get the proportion of the suit right but still make it comfortable for the actors and stunt people to wear,” says executive producer D’Esposito. “We worked closely with Shane and the Legacy team and came up with the idea of a football suit, where putting on the armor was almost like putting on a pair of shoulder pads. This not only kept the proportions correct but was also comfortable to wear. The reason we took the legs off was that it made it very hard to get the correct movement and photo realism we needed.”

“This time around we squeezed the proportions into the right shape because we had to make it fit Robert Downey’s anatomy,” says Mahan. “You can’t cheat the proportions or the perspective to hide something. Everything was going to be visible and it was made so that Robert could fit into the suit from the waist up. But the other proportions from the waist down were also correct and I think it was a really successful merger of the practical and the digital because the digital companies could take the physical, full-size piece, scan it and use that as the basis for their computer model.”

“It’s really amazing how fast Shane and his team were able to build the suits,” notes director Jon Favreau. “They made the suits more lightweight and out of much more flexible and forgiving materials. Not only did the practical suits inform what we did digitally, but they also allowed us to shoot Robert in the suit, which makes it feel like Tony Stark is really wearing the suit. We never wanted to lose sight of that because Tony is more the star of the film and Iron Man is an alter ego.”

“When Robert put on that suit it came alive and we learned so much about the character he inhabits,” observes co-producer Victoria Alonso. “If you don’t have that physical suit for Robert to wear, as good as we are in the computer graphics world, you don’t quite get there. So we always tried to have it live and practical and when we couldn’t, we tried to create a practical reference so we could either match it or augment it. Robert would wear the half suit and he would have a MoCap suit from the waist down with tracking marks on it so we were tracking its movement. It was similar to being on a motion-capture stage, but we were getting the reality of the suit on Robert Downey’s torso.”

In explaining the challenges and the evolution of the Iron Man suit, producer Feige says that “in coming up with the design of Tony’s suits for this film we wanted to follow what worked and was defined for us in the Iron Man comics for years. It’s really two things. First, Tony’s always upgrading his suit with new ideas and gadgets. Secondly the iconic red and gold face of Iron Man remains more or less unchanged. So we needed to devise suits that still were iconically Iron Man, but at the same time evolve the story we were telling. Tony starts the film in the Mark IV, which still has the iconic circle RT, but if you compare it side by side with the Mark III, it’s sleeker, more dynamic and has many more gadgets. But it remains, unquestionably, Iron Man.”

“In designing the Mark IV, we changed the arms and shoulders but the biggest change was in the legs,” says the film’s Lead Suit Illustrator, Ryan Meinerding. “We really wanted to add a more human gesture to the legs from a front-view. What they did in the Mark III was really great because the legs were very linear and you got the feeling that they were there for thrust and flying. Still, we felt that for some of the action sequences it would probably help to have a little more gesture, to make the poses more dynamic. We also wanted to slim down the shoulder pads in the Mark IV to make it feel a bit more high tech as opposed to football pad-ish. Overall, the main objective in designing it was to make it feel a bit sleeker and streamlined.”
 


 



 

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).