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Imagine being able to say on your resume that you helped create Captain America's iconic vibranium shield and helped forge Thor's hammer Mjolnir. Russell Bobbitt doesn't have to imagine it, because as Prop Master and Head of Props at Marvel, he's done exactly that. Among other things, the property master has been involved in crafting some of the MCU's most recognizable weapons. But among the guns, gauntlets, weapons of vibranium and uru, the hardest scene Russell Bobbitt ever worked on actually took place at the beginning of the MCU in Iron Man, as he explained:
The most challenging scene that I've worked on is the cave scene in Iron Man 1, where Robert Downey Jr. had to create his first arc reactor. And so I taught him how wiring works. He soldered and we have these extreme close up shots and it really defined Iron Man in that moment.
You would think that as the MCU has grown more expansive and grander in scope that the more recent movies would have provided greater challenges, so to hear that it was actually the first Iron Man movie is interesting. Russell Bobbitt's explanation on IMDb's Walk of Flame makes sense though. Unlike a medium shot of a shield or a hammer, when Tony Stark is building his arc reactor in the cave scene, there is an extreme close up shot of him soldering the wiring. It's harder to fake it with an extreme close up where the camera can see every detail. So Robert Downey Jr. needed to be taught how wiring works so that he could perform that scene and come off believably. More than just creating a prop here, Russell Bobbitt had to teach Robert Downey Jr. and, in a way, help the actor become Tony Stark.
It is just a quick shot, but this little detail actually does tells us a lot about Tony Stark. We are meeting him for the first time in Iron Man and are learning about him as he learns about himself and who he needs to become. Watching him build the arc reactor and the suit inside that cave, we find out that while he may come off as a fast-talking playboy businessman, Tony Stark is very much a mechanical genius who MacGyver could learn a thing or two from. From the cave scene on, we know that Tony Stark's greatest weapon, and the one that winds up getting him in a fair bit of trouble, is his mind.
It's also worth saying what a cool job Russell Bobbitt has getting to oversee the creation of all kinds of fun props and gadgets for the MCU. He's like Q in James Bond, Lucius Fox in Batman and indeed Tony Stark (or Shuri) in the MCU. In addition to the more geeky properties he has worked on, he's also been property master on The Hangover, cult classic Hocus Pocus and '90s teen comedy Can't Hardly Wait, among many other films.
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