Tim Miller’s rapturously received Deadpool with Ryan Reynolds is already the surprise cinematic success story of the year, its hefty box office receipts effectively silencing those naysayers who thought an R-rated, convention-flouting comic book film top-lined by the star of Green Lantern couldn’t possibly connect with a wide audience. But the film’s recent triumph was a coup at least 10 years in the making. Way back in 2006, Marvel Comics had not yet conquered the movies, and second-stringer Iron Man was barely more plausible as a movie star than Deadpool himself. So Marvel approached Miller and Blur Studios with a challenge: Create some kid-friendly CGI animated shorts about how freaking cool Iron Man is. In the wake of Deadpool‘s newfound fame, Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada is proudly sharing Miller’s Iron Man advertorials on his personal Tumblr. In this storyline, a wisecracking Spider-Man gives his buddy Tony Stark a call when he finds himself desperately overmatched.
Iron Man is notably more staid and serious here than his later movie incarnation, but what’s important is that he manages to make relatively quick work of a giant rampaging robot and seems only slightly perturbed that said robot is equipped with a thermonuclear device.
Old Shell-Head does get thrown for a loop by that pesky nuclear explosion, but not to worry. One of Iron Man’s future costars in The Avengers is there to assist him during a potentially painful landing. Unfortunately, that’s hardly the end of their problems. Iron Man and pals still have their hands full. Clearly, Marvel was impressed with what Miller was able to do with these characters; these demo reels emboldened the company as it was about to embark on what it turned out was a game-changing gambit in Hollywood. In that sense, Miller has played a role in movie history much larger than just directing Deadpool.