The MCU’s Best Movie Just Became Part Of History

Robert Downey Jr.'s 2008 Iron Man has been inducted into the U.S. National Film Registry.

By TeeJay Small | Updated

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Robert Downey Jr.’s career-saving debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man, has been inducted into the U.S. National Film Registry, according to a source at MovieWeb. The film, which kicked off the MCU on May 2, 2008, is widely known to have shifted the landscape of comic book adaptations and cinema at large, despite the cries of classic Hollywood auteurs who prefer their heroes to stay out of spandex. The honor of being inducted is reserved only for films regarded as distinctive works of art which leave an everlasting impact on film and American culture.

Iron Man is the first foray into the now expansive and storied MCU, following Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark as he builds the first Iron Man suit using a box of scraps in a cave, and fine-tunes his superhero abilities before besting Jeff Bridges in combat and confessing his secret identity to the world before a room full of press cameras. Of course, the film likely needs no introduction, as it has become so cemented into the cultural history of the last decade that you’d have to be living under a rock to have missed out on it.

robert downey jr

The film did more than just revitalize a genre. Robert Downey Jr.’s life was essentially saved by Iron Man, as it was his first major blockbuster to premiere after a long and difficult battle with drug addiction which nearly destroyed his career and took his life. This is evident in the tumultuous story of the recasting of James Rhodes, AKA War Machine, as Terrence Howard was actually paid more money in the first Iron Man film than the titular star himself.

Robert Downey Jr. would go on to have a career resurgence so strong that he is now one of the most highly coveted A-listers in Hollywood, and his decade-long performance as Tony Stark bolstered the entire Infinity Saga of the MCU, spanning from 2008 to 2019.

Robert Downey Jr. isn’t the only star being honored this week, as Iron Man was inducted alongside a series of other iconic films as well. Among the films brought into the registry are 1989’s When Harry Met Sally…, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the 1976 Stephen King adaptation Carrie, and several others. The complete list can be found on the Library of Congress website. 850 movies currently hold the esteemed honor, and likely everyone would agree that Iron Man is well deserved and well belonging in that company. Well… everybody but Tarantino and Scorsese.

Robert Downey Jr. has done outstanding work with the character of Iron Man, and it’s excellent to see him receiving this praise. He’s been on a bit of an acting break since concluding his role as Tony Stark in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, only having appeared in 2020’s Dolittle since. RDJ currently has several films in various stages of production, such as the third installment in the Sherlock Holmes trilogy, as well as a role portraying Lewis Strauss, the financier and government official who served as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, in Christopher Nolan‘s upcoming 2023 film Oppenheimer.