Marvel Studios Iron Man has been inducted into the National Film Registry, joining Superman (1978), and The Dark Knight (2008) as the only major comic book films in the selection.
Iron Man, directed by Shane Black and Jon Favreau and starring Robert Downey Jr., officially kickstarted the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has become a monumental force in the movie industry with its ever-expanding universe of connected TV shows and movies. It’s also considered the movie that revitalized Downey Jr.’s career after the actor became synonymous with Marvel’s Tony Stark.
In a report from Variety, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige shared heartfelt words to mark the historic entry.
“Iron Man was the very first film Marvel Studios independently produced. It was the first film that we had all of the creative control and oversight on and was really make or break for the studio. All of our favorite movies are the ones that we watch over and over again and that we grow up with. The notion that here we are, almost 15 years after the release of Iron Man, and to have it join the Film Registry tells us it has stood the test of time and that it is still meaningful to audiences around the world.”
To put it in perspective, as of 2022, the MCU has 30 movies under its belt (and growing), which includes three Iron Man movies. Following its most recent success of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the MCU has reportedly earned more than $25 billion worldwide, becoming the biggest movie franchise ever. But DC had already set this National Film Registry precedent with two crucially acclaimed films.
Superman, directed by Richard Donner and starring Christopher Reeves as the Man of Steel, was for many people the first superhero movie they ever saw. The iconic film, which filmmakers still use as a benchmark for how to make superhero movies, was inducted into the National Film Registry in 2017.
The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale as Batman, is considered by many to be the best superhero film of all time. With an Oscar-winning performance by the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, it cemented itself as a true classic and was inducted into the National Film Registry in 2020.
Also joining the National Film Registry this year are Carrie (1976), When Harry Met Sally (1989), House Party (1990), and The Little Mermaid (1990). It’s an eclectic selection but given the MCU’s current pace, there are likely to be more movies from its multiverse joining the list in the future.