Jon Favreau On The Misstep of COWBOYS & ALIENS And The Success Of IRON MAN

Jon Favreau looks back at Cowboys and Aliens and talks about where some different decisions could've been made to have a more successful film. Plus, the actor/director also looks back at Iron Man.

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By Mark Julian - 1/5/2013

Stand-up comedian and celebrated podcast host Marc Maron recently had actor and director Jon Favreau on his WTF Podcast show. Lots and lots of interesting conversation topics covered but below you'll find some brief excerpts concerning Cowboys and Aliens and Iron Man.

Talking about his breakthrough film, Swingers, Favreau states that success is difficult to handle and the pressure to follow that up can almost develop feelings of paralysis that you'd associate with failure. At this point, the conversation turned to Cowboys and Aliens, where Favreau stated, "Cowboys and Aliens, it didn't bomb but it was definitely a 'pillow party'. You always feel this way about the latest project you've done but I feel like it's the most evolved work I've done. Plus, the experience of working with Spielberg, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, 'Kurtzman and Orci' and Damon Lindelof and then Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, it was one of those things where when you achieve a certain amount of success, you're the expert. You're going to decide and give these platitudes of 'if it bends its funny.'... I learned the lesson that you can make the best Bacon Sundae in the world but if people don't want to eat that flavor of ice cream...and the name was misleading. With so many [actors] associated with it, it was seen as the big dog and we felt we were underdogs with how obscure the material was...The name that was so interesting made everyone think it was going to be a comedy and maybe it would've been better served with a different vision... It's always a trick of 'how can you get the big summer movie, with the big budget, where you can play with all the toys yet do something interesting with it. With Iron Man I had been spoiled because it worked out. [Looking at Iron Man] part of me felt that it was going to bomb and part of me felt like this is going to be the best movie in the world.

The stroke of brilliance with Iron Man was [Robert] Downey. It's not that it was him, it was that it was him at that moment, having paid his dues and having a spiritual redemption...He came out of the other end of the tunnel glowing, there was a radiance to him. I knew that if I could get him then every decision for the movie would be obvious. My biggest contribution was the knife fight to get him [as] the star. Letting someone do it for themselves is the most gratifying feeling of connection."


Very interesting podcast with Favreau where he basically reflects on his entire career, great stuff and well worth a listen. Favreau covered a bunch of topics ranging from Elf to The Wolf of Wallstreet so if you're a film buff then you definitely want to spend some time listening. Click the source link below to hear from Favreau himself.


RELATED CONTENT:
More IRON MAN 3 Stills And New Plot Details
New Cowboys & Aliens Featurette
Universal Studios' Head Honcho Ron Meyer, “We make a lot of sh*tty movies."

Source: WTF Podcast
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22 Comments
Benjamitesandwich - 1/5/2013, 10:19 AM
Eh, we have Shane Black now. I'm happy with that. :)
Jayman109 - 1/5/2013, 10:32 AM
I'm thankful he was able to do well on Iron Man, especially since Iron Man is my favorite hero, and since Iron Man was the spark that lead to the Avengers. That being said, he comes off like he was lucky. I think he should take more credit for his work. I have enjoyed most of his work, with the exception of cowboys and aliens. If he sticks with comedies he will be fine. C&A tried so hard to be bad ass. Make an Elf sequel, and his career will be back on track.
TheAbomination - 1/5/2013, 10:37 AM
Cowboys & Aliens should have made more money. It was actually a pretty entertaining movie.
AnungUnRama - 1/5/2013, 10:42 AM
The only way that movie would have made more profit is if it had cost less.

General audience was just not into that plot.
AnungUnRama - 1/5/2013, 10:43 AM
FriendlyJoShFest@ Great pics OW is a godess
LoudLon - 1/5/2013, 10:57 AM
Olivia Wilde has a pretty face. But where's the rest of her?
MarkJulian - 1/5/2013, 11:05 AM
Yeah, the role was originally Downey's and he had to drop out to do Sherlock. Being replaced by Craig raised a lot of eyebrows.
Warcam - 1/5/2013, 11:06 AM
What ever happened to that 'Magic Kingdom' movie Favs was supposed to direct? Did Cowboys & Aliens' lack of success give Disney cold feet?
Luminus - 1/5/2013, 11:13 AM
The problem with Cowboys & Aliens was A) it was too long (some movies suffer from being 2 hours or more) and b) Olivia's character twist was not believable.
AC1 - 1/5/2013, 11:30 AM
I can only remember having ever watched 3 movies Favreau directed: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Elf. Loved Iron Man, Iron Man 2 was just about watchable, and Elf is my favourite Christmas movie. I still kind of want to watch Cowboys vs Aliens even though I've heard it was bad.
jessepostal - 1/5/2013, 11:45 AM
It's not a bad, bad movie. It just lacks fun and excitement :)
jj2112 - 1/5/2013, 11:48 AM
Olivia Wilde is pretty but she should stick to playing 2-D characters in a new Tron movie...
inkslinger616 - 1/5/2013, 12:04 PM
"Jon Favreau puts himself in his movies but you don,t mind because he seems like the kind of guy that would help you move if you asked him". Thats is all I have to say about Jon Favreau
PapaMidnite - 1/5/2013, 12:05 PM
C&A wasn't THAT bad, the comics is much worse! I think the equation is quite easy: a shitty comic book definitely could result in a shitty CBM. And of course - the lack of some RDJr factor won't help!
MrNiklander - 1/5/2013, 12:26 PM
Am I the only one who enjoed Cowboys and Aliens
MarkJulian - 1/5/2013, 12:29 PM
I think his Bacon Sundae analogy summed it up perfectly. There's an extremely small percentage of people who would like that but not many.
Christuffer - 1/5/2013, 12:55 PM
Olivia Wilde is my wife. Lol

But I liked Cowboys and Aliens. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't amazing or anything, but it was a decent flick.
HarrisonBergeron - 1/5/2013, 1:09 PM
I like his reasoning for C&A's lack of success. It was a good movie, but I can understand people not caring simply because they don't care to mix dissimilar flavors like westerns and sci-fi.

Sometimes when directors/actors try to come up with reasons for flops it just sounds like an excuse, or passing the buck, but this one sound humble and thought out.

IM2 was still a disaster.
GodzillaKart - 1/5/2013, 1:20 PM
Good stuff. I still think the first IM is the best superhero movie to date.
Phlegmbot - 1/5/2013, 10:57 PM
Yeah...that movie was awful...and Favreau sounds like he's in denial. It had nothing to do with the title. The title's quite brilliant.

Now, the film needed a bit more of a sense of humor about itself, sure, but no one expected a comedy. What we expected was -- with those actors -- more interesting characters, characters we actually cared about. And every aspect of the story felt so forced and tired.

Every good director's got a clunker in 'im. I actually liked IM2, in spite of its many shortcomings -- it had the gravitas I expected of the first one (which was better, sure, but it felt so...small [b/c of their tight budget]).
mgeoff88 - 1/6/2013, 12:25 AM
I liked Cowboys and Aliens, but I was hoping for so much more.

Especially when you have A-List actors like Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig starring in a movie together. It's a missed opportunity.
ChanceX74 - 1/6/2013, 4:59 AM
My favorite part of C&A was when there was absolutely no chemistry between Craig and Wilde's characters, and most assuredly no sign of any interest between them beyond their immediate circumstances, but they went ahead and shoehorned the little exchange between them at the end of the film just so they could check off the "romantic interest" box from the movie formula checklist.

It's like after the test screening someone said "the girl in isle three was bored because there was no romance, we need to film an added scene where they kiss" even though there is absolutely nothing leading up to it.

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