Unlike nearly every other celebrity that took the stage in Hall H over the course of the San Diego Comic-Con, actor Robert Downey Jr. didn't stroll out following an introduction. Instead, he took the stage while the room was dark for the screening of a mock teaser trailer. When the lights went up, Downey Jr. was revealed and the crowd went wild.
Following the panel, I had the opportunity to sit down with Downey Jr. and he described the "rockstar" feeling he gets from a reception like that as a "fleeting" one. He said:
"The 'Hall H experience.' I don't know what to say. I think the weird--honestly, I think the weird thing is I have a job and I like it a bunch. And, I like it best when I'm doing it. And then there's a bunch of other stuff that seems like...like, when I was a teenager, what I wanted was the experience of walking into a Hall H and having a reaction like that, but I didn't actually want to have to do what it took to maybe earn anywhere near the kind of, you know, pseudo-respect that gets you in that position. So, I...don't really quite know what to make of it. I know that it feels good, but I also know that one should exert caution over things that feel good just for a second and then are done."
The topic quickly turned to Tony Stark, the character that has thrust Downey Jr. back into the limelight after a decade spent struggling to crawl out from under the transgressions of his past history of substance addiction.
"(Tony) was thought of as this kind of charming prick and then he is almost killed and then he exerts his own escape. Kind of heroic, but really on his own behalf. So, I think that there’s probably a bit of an imposter complex and no sooner has he said, 'I am Iron Man,' than he’s wondering really what means. If you have all of this cushion like he does and the public is on your side and you have immense wealth and power...I think he's way too insulated to be okay, you know?"
Downey Jr. made a comment that possibly aludes to the famous "Demon in a Bottle" storyline from Iron Man (Vol. 1) #120-128:
"(Tony's)struggling with some sort of contamination of his own system and he has a very formidable guy [Whiplash] saying, 'I don’t care what everyone thinks about you, I know that you come from a family of murderers and thieves and I’m gonna take you out of your misery.' And, maybe, he almost half wants that to happen."
When asked about the complexity of the story, Downey Jr. got very excited. He said:
"It's badass. This story is really sweet. We're so proud of it because we, we literally, we worked so hard and spent so much time together and worked so many weekends and tore our eyebrows out to try to find the best way to express the most stream-lined version of the complexities of what really would happen.
Sam Rockwell's character, Justin Hammer, is introduced in Iron Man 2 and it's not clear exactly how he fits into Tony's life, but Downey Jr. said:
"Well, I think if Justin Hammer is ready to step in and fill Tony’s shoes and say 'Hey, dude, just let me do it for you.' But if you look at Justin Hammer and you look at the way Sam Rockwell plays him it would be like, 'Not you, buddy! You’re a jerk, I don’t trust you,' and maybe he should have trusted him. Or, maybe he’s more trustworthy than Tony thinks. But, I think that Tony thinks he can handle everything if he just gets enough space and he can figure everything out if he just puts his mind to it.
And, that’s not the way it works. And, I think that’s the big lesson in this film, is that he has to utilize not only all of his own resources but the resources of those close to him and then resources from somewhere he never, ever, ever could’ve imagined. And it's not just as obvious as, like, S.H.I.E.L.D. steps in, it’s actually a lot more primal than that."
Tony's relationship with James "Rhodey" Rhodes is more strained in this film than in the last one, as evidenced by a brief encounter between the two in a courtroom scene shown at Comic-Con. Downey Jr. explains:
"As we remember, in the previous incarnation, I give Rhodey a lot of shit and I don’t understand why when I got out of the weapons business he wouldn’t just come with me. Bu, I think there’s also a big learning curve here of, you know, Rhodey is used to 'Everything you do, you do with a wingman, and when you go it alone lives are lost,' and I think Tony’s thing is that Rhodey doesn’t know what it's like to go it alone and be the lone samurai."
Downey Jr. said that there's the requisite amount of action for a film of this type, but that there's nothing gratuitous about any of it:
Every piece of action that happens in Iron Man 2 is a direct result of a part of a character arc. Including, probably the biggest sequence in the first hour of the movie just happens because...anyway, I don't want to give it away...everything is a result of essentially dysfunction or mistakes made and those mistakes, when you're Iron Man and when you're surrounded by the kind of people he is, the ramifications are ginormous."
And, of course, what every fan wants to know is how Tony Stark/Iron Man will factor in the movie version of The Avengers, which is tentatively slated for a 2012 release date. Downey Jr. admitted that he has been included in talks about The Avengers, but said that there was a lot of work to be done before that:
"I'm in a really enviable position that I'm part of the creative team from the inception. This one really took a lot out of us because we knew that we had to meet our own expectations and, therefore, the expectations of the people who made this film successful. So, as far as Avengers goes...that's the mountain, you know, that's the mountain that would have to be carefully climbed, I guess."
Iron Man 2 also stars Mickey Rourke as Whiplash, Don Cheadle as Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes/War Machine, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Jon Favreau returns as director.
Iron Man 2 opens May 7, 2010!
Click HERE for an interview with Sam "Justin Hammer" Rockwell!
Click HERE for an interview with Scarlett "Black Widow" Johansson!
Click HERE for an interview with Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau
And, in Astro Boy news:
Click HERE for an interview with Freddie "Astro Boy" Highmore!
Click HERE for an interview with Kristen "Cora" Bell!