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Original iPhone heavy inspiration for Marvel's Iron Man heads-up-display

According to a new oral history, the first Iron Man movie featured a heads-up display inside the armored suit that was informed by the then-new iPhone display.




It's hard to imagine life in America without the iPhone, or without the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point, but a decade ago, the first iPhone was just a year old and the very first MCU film, "Iron Man," was released.

The original "Iron Man" film, which came out ten years ago Wednesday, has spawned two direct sequels as well as numerous other Marvel films in which Robert Downey, Jr.'s Tony Stark/Iron Man has appeared, including the brand new "Avengers: Infinity War". Tony Stark is a celebrity industrialist with more than a touch of Steve Jobs to him; in 2010's "Iron Man 2," we even see him deliver a very Jobs-like product keynote.

Now, the VFX Blog has published an oral history of the creation of the HUD (heads-up display), the display seen inside the helmet of Iron Man's suit, and we learn something else the Iron Man character has in common with Apple.

As the first iPhone was brand new while "Iron Man" was in production in 2007, it was on the minds of the filmmakers, as they discussed in the piece.

"I remember in an early discussion in post-production with ["Iron Man" director] Jon Favreau," Kent Seki, "Iron Man"'s visualization/hud effects supervisor, said in the article. "He pulled out his iPhone, which was a new thing at the time. He said, I don't want to tell you a specific graphic to make for the HUD, but I want it to feel intuitive like my iPhone.'"

Dav Rauch, the film's HUD design supervisor, also noted the iPhone's influence.

"The iPhone had just come out like literally a week or two before the meeting with Jon - and I got an iPhone and Favreau had gotten an iPhone," Rauch said. "When I was down there we kind of geeked out on our iPhones, and we were talking about what we liked about the iPhone because he was really inspired by it. He was like, What I love about this thing is it just kind of does what it should do, and it kind of does what I want it to do and it's very intuitive and it's very simple.'"

Rauch added that the "transitions" in the iPhone were what had a big influence on the design of the HUD.

One may not think of the original iPhone as such a technical marvel, especially compared to what would follow in the ensuing years. Indeed, other real-life technologies, such as Google Glass and other VR products, would more closely resemble the HUD than the iPhone ever would. But even so, that first iPhone ended up hugely influencing the look of the decade's most successful cinematic franchise.