Michael Bay’s Transformers arrived in the summer of 2007, and while the narrative was lacking in almost every regard, the spectacle and visual effects were nigh-on flawless. Giant alien robots turning into vehicles in a series of intricate, complex CGI sequences had never been done before on a blockbuster scale, and it ended up saving a key scene from Iron Man.
As technology advances, it’s gotten easier and easier for the superhero genre to bring fantastical powers to life, but Industrial Light & Magic were struggling with one sequence in particular on Jon Favreau’s Marvel Cinematic Universe launchpad, to the extent that there was talk it would end up being cut from the film altogether.
The moment in question is when Tony Stark’s armor clicks into place all around his body, marking his first time suiting up in the full red and gold Iron Man armor, and it was awesome. However, new book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe via CBR finds Favreau admitting that Bay’s influence was key to having the effects-heavy moment survive the axe.
“Seeing Transformers was very helpful because I saw how good ILM now was at doing hard surfaces. I was finally convinced that you can achieve photo-realism for certain materials. I was like, ‘Guys look, Transformers is making all this money and all it is is things transforming. And we’re cutting around it. We’re cutting like Superman, like he goes into a telephone booth, pulls his shirt open, and the next thing you know, he’s flying.”
It was the right call for Favreau to win out in the end, because no superhero origin story is complete without a money shot of the character sporting their new gear for the first time, and it cemented Iron Man as one cool customer.