Source: Disney Parks
I doubt there’s an Iron Man fan out there, that hasn’t wondered what it’s like to wear Iron Man’s suit. Is it heavy and awkward? How do they make it? During our Iron Man 3 event in Los Angeles, we were able to interview Chris Swift the Legacy effects on set coordinator, and Russell Bobbitt the props manager. They were able to give us some inside information on the Iron Man suit worn by Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow.
That means, you guys are getting some exclusive information from the guys that create and handle some of the coolest gear used in the Marvel films.
One of the challenges Chris Swift and crew faced when building Iron man’s suit, was how do we make Iron Man stand 6’4″-6’6″ tall, when Robert Downey Jr. is ten inches too short. So, in the first Iron Man movie they used stunt guys with the right height and build to fit the suit. When Robert put on those suits, his feet would end up somewhere around mid-shin.
After the first “Iron Man” movie they decided it was easier logistically and financially to just make suits for Robert from the waist up, then add in the bottom half digitally.
“Every time we’ve done the suits we make them better, we figure out a problem. And then we see what the problem was on that one. That first suit was a nightmare. And it was really heavy and it was hard to get into. And it killed the stunt guys trying to get into it. If we had to make it again today, we could make it and we could make it a lot better, and a lot easier, and a lot simpler, and a lot faster to get into.” Chris Swift
How long does it take to make an Iron Man suit? Since every suit is different, there are a lot of factors in the amount of time it takes. Chris explained how the Marvel designers do an amazing job of creating the suits, but then they have to find a way to make it perform properly with the computer. Most of the time is spent on the computer and re-designing the suit to maintain the look, but make it functional. They spent about two months perfecting the 42 armor in “Iron Man 3.”
“You’ve got bars going right across where something would move. So now we’ve gotta re-engineer this and re-figure it out, how to maintain that look and still make it practical to where somebody can wear it and move around in it. And then once we started actually physically building them we worked all the problems out there. They went together pretty quick. “
Once the design in the computer is finalized, they send the file out, and machines build the pieces according to the specs. When they get the suit, its in large pieces that need to be cleaned, that will fit together like a puzzle. He says at that point it’s kind of like assembling a toy. Sounds like a job all little boys have dreamed about.
If you read my interview with Gwyneth Paltrow, you know what she thought about wearing the suit. Chris said everyone was betting that he wouldn’t be able to get her to wear it, but he was determined to give the fans what they wanted: Pepper Potts in Iron Man’s suit.
“So I was like I’m determined to get her in the suit, and I went and talked to her about it. She was really cool about the whole thing. And it’s like well I’m kinda hesitant, let’s see. But once she got in it, she had a ball, I couldn’t get her out of it. She was running around and fighting with her kids. And she didn’t wanna come out. It was funny ‘cause she was the belle of the ball in the suit. So it was a fun moment.”
Russell Bobbitt, isn’t an ordinary property master, he also makes a lot of the gadgets and props used on the Marvel films. During our interview Russell talked about how he makes the “RT” or what we know as the arc reactor (the device in Tony Stark’s chest that keeps him alive).
“We take a cast of his (RDJ) chest and we mold the piece right to his chest. And every scene we glue the thing onto his chest with special effects makeup glue. So he has to shave his little chest area right there so it stays on. And then by remote control I turn on and off the light for each take.” Russell Bobbitt
They’ve actually come a long way from the first film, to the third. The light is powered by a small battery that has a total running time of 10 minutes. When the battery dies, they have to remove the device from his chest and swap it out. Not exactly a fun thing for Robert, or for the crew, so in the second film they used a bobby pin to turn the light on and off, and now this time they were able to use a remote control!
Both of these guys have super cool jobs, and it was so much fun listening to them talk about how they create the gear that we ooh and aah over in “Iron Man 3″ and other Marvel films. In each movie the gear and gadgets evolve into something even more buzz worthy.
Iron Man 3 on 3D Blu-ray Super Set and Blu-ray Combo Pack is now available which has fun bonus clips like this gag reel of Downey Jr.’s slip ups and crack ups in and Ben Kingsley messing around with all sorts of accents from around the globe. So funny!