I tried to recreate Marvel's Iron Man in this movie studio sim, and my version was so bad my own father stormed out of the theater

A movie studio
(Image credit: Super Sly Fox)

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but more importantly it's the path to boffo box office returns. I'm building and running my own movie studio in Blockbuster Inc, and with all of the film genres to choose from like romance, mystery, western, crime, and horror… I'm going with superheroes. If there's one thing that's certain, you can never have too many superhero films, and no one will ever, ever get sick of them.

I've decided to follow Marvel's billion-dollar superhero movie blueprint hit for hit, so I name my studio Merval (to avoid lawsuits) and get started on creating my own MCU (Marvel Copies Universe). My first film will be an Iron Man rip-off called Ironed Man. Who knows what's next? Colonial America? The Incredible Sulk? Doctor Unusual? Thorp? My only limits are Marvel's imagination.

There's a lot to do before I can start filming: this is a pretty deep movie studio sim, so I have to build offices for my writer, producer, and other staff members, erect a basic film set, and even build a cafeteria and bathrooms—those diva movie stars need to eat and poop, can you imagine? The buildings can all be designed and decorated from the ground up, but there are premade buildings for those (like me) who just want to get busy making movie magic.

I hire studio employees and a film crew and set up a work schedule that includes breaks for lunch and leisure time. In these early days of the fledgling Merval Studios there's only one actor available for hire, so making this Iron(ed) Man movie is gonna be a bit of a challenge since I'm pretty sure Marvel's version had at least three or four actors in it. I rent an apartment for my star in town—not only do actors need to eat and poop, they need to sleep, apparently—and then it's time to begin planning my first superhero film.

In Blockbuster Inc it's not just a matter of picking a genre, selecting a crew, and then watching a little animation of the movie being made: you can actually stage and direct the movies yourself. Put actors into scenes, pick their wardrobe, give them animations, choose the camera movements and special effects, and then even edit them in a timeline that mimics a video program like Adobe Premiere. It's pretty cool.

(Image credit: Super Sly Fox)

I'm given 11 different scenes for my Ironed Man movie, but I don't think I'm even going to need that many. The original Iron Man goes like this:

  • Tony Stark's convoy is attacked
  • Soldiers die and he feels bad
  • He makes Iron Man armor 
  • He flies around going "whoooo"
  • Jeff Bridges makes bigger Iron Man armor
  • They fight 
  • Iron Man wins

Piece of cake! Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to shoot fewer than 11 scenes, but in the editing process I can just leave some of them out. I can also add in subtitles and sound effects, which will help me tell the exciting story of Iron Man. I mean, uh, Ironed Man.

I only have one superhero costume and it doesn't look like Iron Man, more like Homelander, so I use a post-apocalyptic outfit with a gas mask to represent Tony's armor and a spacesuit to represent Jeff Bridges' armor. I unfortunately have not unlocked fire, fog, and rain yet, and my only set is a medieval-themed dungeon. Plus it's pretty unconvincing that the same woman is playing all the roles in Ironed Man, one at a time. Ah well, when things don't make sense in a movie a clever director like me can just claim it was symbolism and critics will assume it's an artistic choice to avoid admitting they don't get it.

(Image credit: Super Sly Fox)

My father storms out of the theater furious that he paid for my film school training.

Of course, every major Hollywood production runs into problems while filming, and so do cheap-ass superhero knockoffs like my little picture. During production in Blockbuster Inc little multiple-choice scenarios pop up from time to time, like when my screenwriter complains that the idea of Iron Man isn't original, my only actor has a tantrum and demands a close-up, and the wrong costume was worn in one of the scenes leading to calls for a reshoot. My typical method for dealing with these issues: telling everyone to calm down and shut up and keep working. 

Unfortunately I discover during the advanced screening of Ironed Man that slapping together a superhero movie isn't as easy as I thought. All my friends laugh at it, my father storms out of the theater furious that he paid for my film school training, and my mother tells me I should have become a lawyer. Everyone's a critic, and that includes actual critics, who don't really like Ironed Man either.

(Image credit: Super Sly Fox)

Well, screw the haters, including my former father. I think it turned out great, except that I called my character Iron Man instead of Ironed Man, and I messed up a couple times while editing it, and I completely forgot to add sound effects, plus the film is only 30 seconds long and is in black and white with subtitles and absolutely nothing happens in it. 

See for yourself:

Ironed Man: The Movie"

But I'm not making superhero movies to please critics or parents or even audiences, I'm making superhero movies to make CA$$$$H. And when Ironed Man hits theaters… it's a huge failure there, too. It earns a paltry $163,408, but it cost me $431,953 to make. 

Well, just because my first movie was a flop doesn't mean I'm finished. Renny Harlin is still making movies: no reason I can't do the same. That's what massive bank loans were made for, and a couple clicks later I've got a million bucks to start production on Ironed Man: The Snyder Cut, which I promise will be twice as long and half as good. If you want to make your own tiny blockbusters, Blockbuster Inc launches on Steam this week on June 6. 

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.