Iron Man 2 Interviews from SDCC: Jon Favreau

<em>Iron Man 2</em> Interviews from SDCC: Jon Favreau

Brent Sprecher talks to the cast of Iron Man 2 at the San Diego Comic-Con 2009! In this installment: Jon Favreau!

Director Jon Favreau endeared himself to comic fans long before Iron Man debuted in theaters and proved he had respect for the source material because he took early footage and the cast to the Mecca of comic book fans, the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con. The teaser footage, played with Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" blasting in the background, was received with thunderous applause from the audience and the word got out from there that Iron Man was not going to be B-list, even if the character was perceived that way.

Two years and $585 million later, and Favreau returned to the Con with teaser footage of Iron Man 2 less like a conquering champion and more like a solicitous friend:

"It was tough walking into that room after what happened last time and hoping that they would, like, be as enthusiastic about what we brought this time because now--we came out of nowhere, y’know?--now everybody saw what we did last time and you can only do it the first time once. So, it was really a matter of saying hey, we’re still here, thank you for putting us on the map and here’s what we’re thinking. And, here’s who we got and here’s our new additions, we hope you--it's like when you ask your finance’s father if you can marry his daughter, you know--sometimes it’s just the formality of doing it and coming here first and saying, hey look, this is what we’re doing but we want you to know and see it and we owe a lot to these people and I think that we have a relationship now more than having to prove anything, but it's like, 'We hope you like what it is and I’m sure I’ll hear it if you don’t.'"

Most people expected to see footage featuring Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, but she was barely featured. Favreau said that he had less to prove to the fans with her character, so Whiplash and War Machine were the focus:

"The jury was out on Scarlett for a while. You know there were some rumors about who we were going to cast and if it was going to work out with this one or that one and then we cast Scarlett and a lot of people were like, 'Really? Her hair's wrong, she's not the right build, she's not...' And, then she transformed herself and--I mean, she really did the work--and when those pictures came out online everybody was like, 'Wow.' So, I was like, 'Okay, that's not the big one,' you know? And, with Whiplash, we kind of wanted to show a little bit more of what we're doing with the technology of that character and explain how it fits into the story. But, the big thing we hadn't shown at all was War Machine. And, especially with the recast of that character, I think it was important for us to really stick it with that one and say, 'Hey, guys, here's our guy, here's what he does, and this is where we're going with it.' And, I'm glad it was received well."

The teaser footage showed Mickey Rourke's character, Ivan Vanko, constructing a mechanized suit much in the same way that Tony Stark did in the first Iron Man, and Favreau said that there's a big reason for that:

"The thing you gotta do is mix things up enough so that if you read the books you kind of know what's happening, but change it up a little bit so you don't know exactly what's going to happen. We want to unify the technology of what's going on with Iron Man, what's going on with Whiplash, and, you know, where is that leading, who's the character, and what's his name and how does this all work together. Not to blow too much, when...he's building Whiplash, it's mirroring in a lot of ways the assembly of the Mark I armor. Except under different circumstances. And so it's almost like the shadow version of Tony Stark coming from a different place going through a similar journey as him.

The big thing was how do you avoid always people in armored suits fighting people in armored suits? You don’t want Rock'em Sock‘em Robots the whole time. And, how to use different settings and different, you know, that sorta old James Bond-of-my-childhood-sense of you live on the world stage, larger than life, I mean, that's Tony Stark.

My God, there are so many superhero movies now. And, you know, I look at G.I. Joe and we can't do that again because they're doing it. You know what I mean? It's, 'How do you stay unique and inspired?'"

The final few seconds of the teaser footage showed War Machine unloading molten hell on an unknown assailant. Favreau said the differences between Iron Man's armor and War Machine's armor is really just a matter of taste:

"The thing that’s fun about War Machine is it's over the top and it’s like you know when Travis Bickle buys the guns in Taxi Driver you know some shit’s gonna go down at the end of that movie. And so, Iron Man is the sleek elegant version where everything is contained under the airframe and War Machine is, you know, the over-the-top, everything hangin’ out and… you know, some people like chocolate, some people like vanilla, you know. Some people like chunky peanut butter, some people like smooth peanut butter and it creates a little bit of a rivalry between the two of them in that respect. So, we use guns...there’s lots of gun porn in this movie, lets put it that way. And it’s not just with that character, there's a lot--we're living in that world and it’s the extreme version of the military industrial complex. That’s the pool that we spawn from.

Favreau also shed some insight on the process of making a film as expensive and complicated as Iron Man 2, from the perspective of a writer and director:

"Well, the writing process on this is very unique. You know, when I wrote Swingers, it was on my computer and then it was in front of people and we made it and cast it and got the money and shot it. And, you can look at that script and that's pretty much what it was. This one, the process began even before there was a writer. It tends to be the case with these types of movies where Robert (Downey Jr.) and I, Kevin (Feige, producer), all of us talking about what interests us. Where the character should go. Where the journey should start.

And, you begin to outline a basic storyline. And, then you start to break it down to scenes and set pieces--because you gotta start storyboarding those set pieces. And, so, I want him to go to Monaco and I want him to do this and it's six months after the first movie ends and "I am Iron Man," what's the relationship like with Pepper and how has he grown and how has he devolved from the first film. And, what has this added pressure changed about him. And, what's his arc gonna be, so it's not just another episode of the film, of the same movie. And, so, we arrive at that, then we outline it, and we meet, and story meet and Justin (Theroux, screenwriter) comes on and then we start breaking the scenes down to, 'This happens in this scene,' and then Justin—who has got a pretty clear take on Robert's voice from working on Tropic Thunder with him—starts working through a lot of that stuff and bringing ideas of his own. But, it's a very collaborative process and often times we're rewriting right up until...right on the day that we're shooting, we're rewriting. And, the script wasn't completely locked until we actually wrapped photography last week.

We know certain things that have to happen. We know the Mandarin storyline is underneath it. So we maintain a consistency, we know how we want it to kind of end, but really we're tracking the character relationships more than anything."

I asked Favreau if he had any plans to play any other Marvel characters, since he's already been Foggy Nelson in Daredevil and Happy Hogan in Iron Man and he said:

"I'm the only person to be two different characters in Marvel movies. I don't know, man. I was talking to people making Conan. It's not Marvel, but I'll get on the juice, man. I'll do it."

Click HERE for an interview with Robert "Iron Man" Downey Jr.!

Click HERE for an interview with Sam "Justin Hammer" Rockwell!

Click HERE for an interview with Scarlett "Black Widow" Johansson!
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