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The Parable Of Iron Man: How One Big Hire Can Make All The Difference

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

In 2008, Marvel was on the ropes, or at least the movie-making part of the business was.

Just look at the last eight movies featuring Marvel characters released before April 2008: Blade Trinity, Elektra, Man-Thing, Fantastic Four, X-Men: The Last Stand, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. While some of the movies were somewhat successful (some completely bombed), all received negative reviews and the brand was clearly damaged.

To fight back, Marvel planned an incredibly ambitious “universe” of movies, where different characters in different films would interact with each other and get together once every few years to make The Avengers. Of course, for it to work, the entire investment was based on making movies that people, you know, liked.

When Marvel revealed this plan and the super heroes that would make it happen, i.e. Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, etc, critics laughed and called it Marvel’s “B” team. Needless to say, the skepticism was high and expectations were low when the company released Iron Man in the spring of ‘08, who at that time was best known for Jerry and George’s argument about whether he wore underwear under his metal suit.

Then, the impossible happened: the movie was a raging success. Why? Sure, there were all the special effects and the pretty girls and all that, but those last eight movies had that too. The difference was Robert Downey, Jr., who was cast in the lead role. Critics and moviegoers agreed: he was excellent.

The movie spawned two sequels and suddenly so much momentum began to swing Marvel’s way that even less-stellar films like Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger could do little to stop. It all culminated with The Avengers, also starring Downey, which was the third-highest grossing movie of all time.

The point is that Downey – one great hire – was the acorn needed to grow the Marvel movie tree. And in no means was he an obvious choice. After all, he was a recovering cocaine addict (certainly not something Marvel wanted tied to its kid-friendly series) that’s last six films included The Shaggy Dog, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus.

The point is that one great hire can make all the difference between a wildly successful company and a string ofElectras, but that one great hire isn’t always easy to findThat’s why it makes sense never to rush a hire. If you are too busy for a typical job search, use a program like VoiceGlance, which will do most of the heavy lifting for you.

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