Iron Man 2 – BEHIND THE SCENES
BEHIND THE SCENES & INTERVIEWS
One of the original Marvel Comics, Iron Man has enjoyed a long and prosperous run dating back to the character’s first appearance in the Marvel comic Tales of Suspense in April 1963. Iron Man’s alter ego, Tony Stark, became an overnight film sensation on May 2nd, 2008 when the film grossed $98.6 million in its opening weekend on its way to an eventual take of more than $572 million worldwide. Fans and critics of all ages were enamored with the red and gold super hero. The film received many awards and accolades, including two Academy Award® nominations, and “Iron Man” has since become part of the pop culture mainstream.
“We always want to stay true to the characters as written in the comics, but we also don’t want to be afraid to take risks occasionally with our characters,” notes Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios and producer of “Iron Man 2.” “We believe our stories and characters are so strong that we can take chances. It was a risk to take a billionaire playboy and put him in an iron suit and have him fly around and save the world. That was not your typical story back in 1962, nor is it a typical story today. Those were factors that we knew we had to rise above and we couldn’t have been prouder of the response that the fans had to the Iron Man character and film.” “What triggered me to create a character like ‘Iron Man’ was that I wanted to see something different from the usual super hero,” explains executive producer Stan Lee. “The character of Tony Stark is so glamorous, so successful, so virile, yet he has a very vulnerable side to him. When we first started writing and publishing the Iron Man comic books, we had more fan mail from females than any other comic book we had ever created. In those days, I think the women who read the comic books felt the same way about Tony Stark as the women who went to see the film and loved Robert Downey Jr. and the vulnerability that he brought to the character. People of all ages connect to the human side of this character.” “The biggest compliment we received from people when the film came out was ‘I don’t usually like comic book movies like these, but I loved ‘Iron Man'” says Feige. “I don’t believe in ‘A’ tier, ‘B’ tier and ‘C’ tier characters; it’s up to us to make all the Marvel characters into successful film franchises because in the comic book world they already enjoy that status. We were thrilled with the success of ‘Iron Man’ and that we were able to introduce the character in a way that was just as interesting and engaging outside of his costume as he was inside his suit of armor. That is a great compliment to Robert Downey Jr. and director Jon Favreau who were able to create a character who was an iconic film personality from the beginning of the film.” The film’s runaway worldwide box office and critical success even caught director Jon Favreau, and the outstanding cast of the film off-guard. “I think the first sense that we had something special was when we went on the international press tour and both the feedback and film reviews were extremely positive,” recalls Favreau. “But it really didn’t hit us until we went around to movie theaters on opening weekend and watched how well audiences were reacting to the film. It was inspiring and extremely gratifying to see Robert beat the odds and, with the success of the film, come back bigger and better than he was before. That’s the ultimate success story and it was oddly parallel to the character of Tony Stark. Sometimes when art imitates life, you can really catch lightning in a bottle.” “The reason I decided to do the first movie was because I always wanted to work with Robert and I love Jon Favreau,” says Gwyneth Paltrow. “People initially questioned why I would be in a comic book film, but I thought it felt really natural and it was a great experience and so much fun. I was thrilled with the way it turned out, but I was a little taken aback by how big the film became. I don’t normally do big action films, so it was really exciting the way fans responded to the film all over the world.” “It really feels good when you speak to people on the street and they say, ‘Iron Man’s my favorite super hero because he feels like a real person,'” concludes executive producer Louis D’Esposito. “The film had great characters, a great story of redemption, and although there is tons of action and excitement, it felt like the super hero part was secondary, which really opened the film up to a much wider audience.”
And much of that had to do with the delicate balance struck by the film, according to the film’s star Robert Downey Jr. “I think the tone of ‘Iron Man’ was what made the movie a winner. There was this feeling that we took the subject matter seriously but didn’t take ourselves too seriously. I remember even when I was testing for the film I knew it was really important for me to be able to demonstrate the sort of stoic and fiery side of Tony Stark, but to also be able to score with the humor.”
With the worldwide success of “Iron Man” at the box office, director Favreau faced the inevitable challenge following up the beloved film with the second installment of the franchise.
“When we were shooting the first film, we weren’t planning a sequel, but we were also aware that if things went well, there would be one; so we thought about what the big picture would be and what we were leading to in terms of story,” Favreau observes. “The challenge in developing ‘Iron Man 2′ was how to stay true to what audiences enjoyed about the first film while at the same time raising the bar in every aspect – an interesting but sometimes difficult line to walk. If it gets too complicated, the sequel becomes overwrought and loses its light touch. But if you don’t do anything more than you did the first time, it just feels like more of the same–so doing a sequel can be a mixed blessing.” “The great thing about having Jon Favreau back at the helm is that we have a fantastic rapport because we’ve been together now for almost four years thinking and talking about the world of Iron Man,” says Feige. “We’ve developed a shorthand now, so most of the time we know what the other is thinking. Jon did an amazing job on the first film and we really followed his lead in terms of tone, texture and humor. When you see Tony Stark and his interaction as Iron Man, it is not just your hand-on-the-hip super hero. It is somebody who has wit and cynicism on one side and extreme optimism on the other; the character really is what he is because of two people, Jon Favreau and Robert Downey.” “One of the great things that came from the success of the first film was that we had established a tone that was distinctively fresh and cool, so in preparing for the sequel it became ‘how do we keep that tone going?,'” notes co-producer Jeremy Latcham. “The tone is what really makes audiences feel like they’re watching an ‘Iron Man’ movie. It’s really fun, it’s edgy, but it’s not brooding, nor is it cartoony or overly political. So one of our big goals in developing the story and characters was making sure everything was in line with the tone we established in the first film.”
“Once you establish the tone and characterizations and people love the character, it gives you a lot of freedom to jump into whatever stories you want to tell next,” mentions Feige. “Often times our favorite stories in the comics are ones that can’t be done as an origin story, because they happen 200 or 300 issues into the series. But with a sequel, you can really take the gloves off because you already know what worked really well in the first film and can up the ante in those aspects. Having that kind of opportunity is one of the great joys in filmmaking.” For Favreau and the filmmakers, developing the story for “Iron Man 2″ started long before the first page of the script was written.
“The writing process on ‘Iron Man 2′ was unique and began before there was a screenwriter brought on,” explains Favreau. “That tends to be the case with these types of movies because what happens is that Robert Downey, Kevin Feige, Jeremy Latcham and others all sit around and start discussing things like what interests us; where should the characters go; where should the next leg of the journey start; what should Tony’s arc be, etc. So you begin to outline a basic story and break it down into scenes and set pieces. Then when you arrive at that point, the actual scriptwriting process can begin.” For “Iron Man 2″ the filmmakers selected Justin Theroux – an avowed life-long fan of the comic book super hero – to write the screenplay. Theroux had recently co-written (with Ben Stiller) the screenplay to the comedy hit “Tropic Thunder,” which had earned Downey an Academy Award® nomination as Best Supporting Actor. “What drew me to the project first and foremost was the opportunity to work with Robert Downey Jr. again,” Theroux admits. “It also helped that I was such a big fan of the comics and actually owned an Iron Man doll that had a little spandex outfit and little RT in the center that you could manipulate. Iron Man is a super hero who you feel could actually exist someday. He’s not so far fetched; it seems possible that you could create an armored suit that could fly. That’s what drew me in at a very early age.” “In writing for Robert, I think of it as if I was writing for James Brown,” says Theroux. “James Brown was a musical savant in that he always knew what a song needed to work and Robert is the same way when it comes to writing scenes. He has a very organic way of approaching a character, and although I have a good understanding of his voice, I never try to jam words into his mouth that don’t belong there. He inherently knows when there is the slightest hint of a false note in the script and is the first person to stop and say ‘We need to finesse this a bit.'”
Downey pushed for Theroux to write the “Iron Man 2″ script largely based on his experience on “Tropic Thunder.” “The first thing about Theroux is that he is an artist and a renaissance man. On ‘Tropic Thunder,’ I knew by the time we were shooting Act 3 that everything he’d set up earlier in the film had paid off. Also, I like his voice, his sense of humor and his take on things. He’s very fluid. I just knew that he was our guy. And fortunately, everyone else agreed.”
In developing the storyline for “Iron Man 2,” the filmmakers had to decide what story elements and characters to draw from in the more than 600 issues of Iron Man comics Marvel has published over the past 42 years. For Favreau, having the opportunity to pick from any place he chose within the vast amount of source material was not without its pitfalls.
“When you have multiple characters in a film, it tends to get complicated, and I think many sequels fall short because they create too many layers of complication, both in character and in plot,” says Jon Favreau. “Plot is something I’m not particularly great at because I don’t have a mindset for twisty, turny, maze-like stories. I’m more of a story guy, which I used to think was synonymous with plot, but it’s really a different element of movie-making.” The director continues, “Story has more to do with the arc of a character – where they begin and end, what challenges they face, and how they change. The progression of self-transformation usually has to do with having a moment of clarity in which you realize a change needs to be made and then committing to that. Inevitably, because we’re human, we stumble and can fall off the path in the face of duress, which tends to make us regress to our old ways. In the case of Tony Stark, here’s a person who is facing similar but different challenges than he did the first time around. In ‘Iron Man,’ Tony probably should have slowed down, but he was inspired by the discoveries that he made in escaping captivity in the cave and his revelations about where he fits into the world.” “When you have a lead character as rich as Tony Stark, you really want to explore the trials and tribulations of his life,” adds Feige. “We sent the audience a curve-ball at the end of the first film when Tony outed himself to the public in a way that no super hero has ever done before. That immediately sets up the tension and the conflict for this film and that’s what we wanted to continue to explore. We didn’t want to hide from that fact that Tony Stark is Iron Man. Throughout the comic series, people know who Tony is and we didn’t want to be shackled by the notion of secret identities; so in outing Tony at the end of the first film, we opened the door to wherever we wanted to go.” “One of the massive advantages we have is stacks and stacks of Marvel Comics with some of the best stories ever told,” says co-producer Latcham. “During the development of the script for the first film there were many scenes, characters and suits that were our personal favorites, but we said, ‘Let’s save it for next time’ because it felt like too much to introduce on top of all of the things we had to establish to acclimate the audience. All those elements we banked from our original research we now had at our disposal and Justin did a great job of incorporating many of them into the screenplay without sacrificing the tone we had established and wanted to maintain.” Among the challenges Theroux faced in the initial stages of the script writing process was finding a jumping-off point for the complex character of Tony Stark. “What’s unique about this sequel is that (in the first film) we left Tony in real-time,” says Theroux. “He is now out of the closet as a super hero; so right off the bat, we knew addressing that matter was the first nut we had to crack. How do you take a guy who has a personal life – as well as a celebrity life – and create a world around him? So we created events, places and newsreels to sort of really give him a well-rounded resume for what he has been doing since the end of the first movie and how people have reacted to him.”
Theroux continues, “We also had to rectify what to do when a private citizen, even a really rich and powerful one, comes up with something that has the ability to tip the balance of power, not just nationally, but globally. Initially we thought it was going to be difficult to solve, but it actually gave us a bigger platform and playground for the character and made him more interesting and likeable. Tony has to balance that line of celebrity and hero, and what happens when you say to the world ‘I am Iron Man.’ What does that statement buy you and what problems does it present?” For the filmmakers, the answers to those questions proved to be extremely fertile ground in the development of “Iron Man 2.” “After discussing the many different avenues where we could go, we decided to have the film begin six months after Tony’s infamous press conference,” Favreau explains. “In that time period, Tony has been the subject of a lot of publicity and he’s been trying to figure out what to do with Stark Industries because he isn’t manufacturing weapons anymore. If he was the most famous man in America after the first film, he’s definitely the most famous man in the world in the new one.” The overwhelming success of “Iron Man” also catapulted its star, Robert Downey Jr., back into the rank of worldwide movie star. “I think people who didn’t know who ‘Iron Man’ was were intrigued by the fact that Robert Downey was playing the character,” Favreau contends. “He is an amazingly talented actor and I think people were waiting for him to do the right project. It was one of those situations where the material and the actor married well and probably my single largest contribution to ‘Iron Man’ was recognizing that connection and making it happen. Robert really delivered and put to rest any doubts about how serious he was about being a movie star and being a major player in Hollywood.” For Downey, who followed “Iron Man” with award-winning performances in the box office hits “Tropic Thunder” and “Sherlock Holmes,” the opportunity to continue playing the eccentric billionaire industrialist Tony Stark was one he truly appreciated. “Since the end of the first film, the general public has grown to love Tony Stark because he has kept the world a very stable, peaceful place; but the government is threatened by him because he doesn’t really answer to anybody,” explains Favreau. “It’s worked out well so far, but it’s a big point of concern to have a powerful armored suit that is capable of mass destruction in the hands of a private citizen who they don’t consider to be the most stable guy.” The director continues, “We felt there was an opportunity to show Tony Stark as someone who could capture the imagination of not just Americans, but people around the world, and could be a unifying force.” Downey traces the evolution of Tony Stark’s life from the end of the first film to the beginning of “Iron Man 2.” “In the first film Tony was in this kind of nether-world, somebody who needed to be put in check. By the time ‘Iron Man 2′ starts you’re essentially seeing Tony’s persona, and he’s showing that persona to everything and everyone around him because he doesn’t want them to know that anything has changed. But a lot has changed, and he’s really in quite a desperate way. The hero’s journey is really what he’s not telling people, not what he’s doing with or without a suit on. And that extends to his own emotional insecurity by not really being able to share it with Pepper.”
The actor continues: “In the interim Tony has noticed that the shelf life on his battery is nearing his expiration date. So, he’s been spending a lot of time working on a renewable energy source. We also left off on the first film with Tony and the military having a somewhat uneasy relationship, though when he comes in and does something right they back him up. I’m sure Rhodey has had a lot to do with that. And I think there’s also been some climbing tension between him and Rhodey.”
Keeping Tony in line as well as being the voice of reason and stability at Stark Industries is his trustworthy and indispensable executive assistant Virginia “Pepper” Potts. Never one to turn her back on her eccentric boss in the face of adversity, Pepper is rewarded for years of loyal service to Stark Industries when she is promoted to CEO of Stark Industries. Returning in the role is Academy Award® winner Gwyneth Paltrow. “When the movie starts, Pepper and Tony are very much in their same vibe and dynamic,” says Paltrow. “They have a great banter and good chemistry, but he is still her boss. As the movie progresses, Pepper is actually given more responsibility and promoted to CEO of Stark Industries, so it’s nice to see her grow in that way. I think her new position really fits her well because she has been running the day-to-day business at the company for a long time. She’s a good girl and a very grounded person, which is why she is able to handle all of the curveballs that Tony is constantly throwing her way.” “In a moment of clarity and brilliance, Tony promotes Pepper to CEO of Stark Industries and gives her the full run and control of the company,” notes executive producer D’Esposito. “This is a big step for her and Tony. But after she moves into her new position, a distance begins to grow between them. He’s off in his workshop building new suits, dealing with all the conflicts in the film while she’s in the office trying to manage the company. It’s not an easy transition because she is suddenly responsible for the whole company and the manner in which Tony conducts his business has an even greater impact on her.” “The relationship between Tony and Pepper could have been so many things and what it ended up being is so rich, so emotional, so engaging, that you really want to see them together; but they haven’t been able to come together yet,” adds producer Feige. “The charged dynamic between them works and that’s what we wanted to continue. At the end of the first film, Tony starts to reference that night they almost kissed and Pepper says, ‘Oh, the night you didn’t get me my drink and you left me standing up there–let’s not talk about it.’ They still haven’t talked about it six months later, but it’s influenced their interactions with one another.”
Another familiar face in the Iron Man legacy is Tony’s good friend, Lieutenant Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes. While the duo has always enjoyed a very symbiotic relationship, Stark Industries’ new direction and Tony’s refusal to turn in his Iron Man suits to the military has caused a strain in their relationship.
“Tony doesn’t make weapons anymore, so Rhodey’s role as liaison to Stark Industries for the U.S. military doesn’t exist anymore,” explains Feige. “Their relationship is getting more and more strained by Tony’s actions. Rhodey is a very loyal friend but, at the same time, he’s not going to allow himself to be put in a bad position between the government and Tony. He is also one of the few people other than Pepper who will tell Tony the truth and call him out on some of his more eccentric actions.”
The producer continues: “They see each other for the first time in a very public setting and there are things that Tony believes are right that Rhodey just can’t support. Tony can’t ascend to where he needs to be without Rhodey’s help and, by extension, Rhodey has the chance to become much more of a hero than he ever thought he could be.”
Taking on the role of Lt. Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes in “Iron Man 2″ is Academy Award® nominee Don Cheadle, who has been a lifelong fan of Marvel Comics.
“Growing up, I loved Marvel Comics and was into the X-Men and Iron Man,” says Cheadle. “I always loved those characters because they were all very fallible people who found their way through whatever particular mission they were trying to deal with at the time. To me, it was really interesting to have characters who were painted that way and were not just black and white.”
The actor continues: “In this film, Rhodey takes much more of an ownership, not only of Tony’s suits, but the responsibilities and duties of someone with that kind of power. Tony is a bit of a playboy and doesn’t take things all that seriously sometimes and Rhodey’s bone of contention is ‘You’ve got this incredible technology, so what are you doing with it?'”
“Don Cheadle is a very intelligent, very talented guy, who asked a lot of smart, tough questions, and that’s my favorite kind of actor,” says Favreau. “He’s not someone who questions things just for the sake of asking questions. He actually has a point of view and is curious about things, and whenever Don was curious about something it usually turned out to be because it was a beat in a scene that wasn’t totally thought through.”
“Don has great natural chemistry with Robert and can go toe to toe with him in a way that his character needs to in the film,” adds co-producer Latcham. “When we were at ComicCon last July, it was really satisfying to see the fans welcome Don to this franchise.”
Says Downey: “Don is too evolved as a person and as an actor to just pick up where someone left off. He chose to be true to the character and the seriousness of the story, which shows a lot of discipline since he’s an actor with so much natural charm. Of course, as it turns out, he still pulls off some great lines in the movie.”
With Pepper Potts being promoted to CEO of Stark Industries, a replacement must be found. Enter Natalie Rushman, a sexy new employee at Stark Industries whom Tony immediately appoints as his new assistant when
she walks in on him during a sparring session with Happy Hogan.
“Once Pepper is promoted to CEO, Tony needs a new assistant and somebody to run his day-to-day life for him,” explains Feige. “Natalie is a paralegal who comes into the room with paperwork for Pepper to sign. She clearly catches Tony’s eye and he essentially hires her on the spot. Next time we see her, she’s acting as his assistant in Monaco, but everything is not as it seems and she’s there for a specific reason, which we later find out has to do with her alter ego Black Widow.”
Playing both the character of Natalie and later slipping into the sexy Lycra suit of Black Widow is Scarlett Johansson.
“When ‘Iron Man’ came out my mom saw the film and loved it,” recalls Scarlett Johansson. “I thought ‘Wow, my mom doesn’t know anything about comics and if the film spans a wide age demographic then it must be really good.’ I went to see the film and was blown away by the story and how charming it was. The action was great, but it also was romantic, funny, clever and witty. It was just a great film. So when I heard that there was a possible part in the second installment, I was all over it and determined to be in the film.”
“There is this whole other world that Marvel is chomping at the bit to explore in (the upcoming) ‘Avengers,’ so we wanted to set that up and make sure that we really dialed in those characters,” says screenwriter Theroux. “With the character of Natalie, a.k.a. Black Widow, we needed someone who could get entry into Tony’s life and be a mole on the inside. We couldn’t have Nick Fury just show up again in the living room and say, ‘Hey, I’m here in the story again. ‘ We needed to have something a little more planned out and someone who could feed Tony information or give him things that could help him in his quest to fix himself. Black Widow is a character that any red-blooded male is going to love and Scarlett was the perfect person to fill those shoes.”
“This character could have been the temptress that comes in and tries to break up the foundation of Tony’s world, but she has a specific motivation, which adds a little bit of spark between the characters,” says Johansson. “She knows something about Tony that Pepper doesn’t know and that in itself contributes a certain dynamic that goes deeper than just sexual chemistry and tension.”
“It’s great having another female character in the film because it adds a whole other layer in terms of Tony and Pepper,” Paltrow mentions. “There’s always something that gets in the way and keeps them from getting together romantically and Natalie is this young, gorgeous bombshell who immediately catches Tony’s eye and throws Pepper off her course. It makes it really fun to play and we’re very fortunate to have Scarlett in the film because she’s a really great actress.”
“There was some initial resistance to Scarlett playing the role in the fanboy community because she hadn’t done an action film before, but what appealed to me the most in casting Scarlett was her dedication and intelligence,” says Favreau. “I think you need smart people in a movie like this because there’s too much up for grabs and there are too many things that change, so you need somebody who is going to be a steward of their character.”
The director continues: “Scarlett assured me that she would work as hard as she needed to do all of the stunts and physical work in the film. True to her word, she was completely dedicated when it came to spending countless hours in preparing for all of the physical work and looking her best in the Black Widow costume.”
For Johansson, seeing the Black Widow costume for the first time was both frightening and highly motivating. “I knew it was going to be some kind of sexy unitard, because I had researched the character in the comics,” she says. “I’ve never worn anything like it before, so I had a freak-out moment that lasted about half a day, but then I said ‘Okay, time to suck it up’ and just went full force into getting in shape to wear the costume and perform the physical action so it looked just right.”
In preproduction, Johansson went through a rigorous training program under the supervision of stunt coordinator Tommy Harper.
“Scarlett did an amazing amount of training in preparing for this film,” says Harper. “She had never done anything remotely like what was required here, so we basically started from ground zero. We did wind sprints, stretching and kicking and she really put her heart into it from day one. I have worked with a lot of great actresses who have put in great efforts, but the time and dedication that Scarlett put forth during preproduction was second to none.”
“Black Widow is an expert in hand-to-hand combat, she’s a mixed martial artist, has a dance and gymnastics background, so she combines all of these aspects into one kick-ass fighting machine,” notes Johansson. “So I dedicated myself to putting in the hours, repetitions, and training with the stunt team until I felt comfortable that I could sell each particular move.”
One of Tony Stark’s new adversaries in “Iron Man 2″ is a mysterious Russian technology expert named Ivan Vanko, a.k.a. Whiplash. For the filmmakers it was important to keep the character grounded in reality.
“We didn’t want to go too mystical with this character, because there are things you can do in comics that you can’t necessarily do in film,” says D’Esposito. “You don’t want to make your villains too powerful to the point of unbelievability, so we went through the entire catalogue of source material and said ‘What character would have the most dynamic cinematic presence?’ We decided on Whiplash, a character who could be updated and grounded in technology – specifically Tony’s technology. So it’s actually a great compliment to Tony saying ‘I am Iron Man,’ and then having another character saying ‘Well I’ve got that too, and I should be Iron Man.'”
In casting the role, the filmmakers selected Mickey Rourke, who was coming off an Academy Award®-nominated performance in “The Wrestler,” and someone who was familiar with Russian culture.
“In the film, the character of Ivan represents a dark side of Tony’s past,” says Favreau. “There is something cool and retro about having a Russian villain and Mickey Rourke had spent some time there and was intrigued by the idea.”
“Ivan Vanko is a dark, tattooed, dangerous figure which really was perfect for Mickey’s sensibilities,” adds D’Esposito. “It also seems that the criminals who come out of Russia are a little more hard-boiled than the softer criminals from the United States, which also added a layer of ferocity to the character.
For Rourke, preparing for the role included a trip to Russia. “Well, the character is Russian, so I went to Russia and spent some time there,” Rourke admits. “I spent time in a prison so I could understand how the whole underground system operated. I also studied the art of prison tattoos and we added scenes of Ivan in his cell where you see all the tattoos covering his entire body and you learn that they all have a particular meaning, which gives you real insight into the character.”
The actor continues: “It was quite challenging learning to speak Russian because the language is very hard to wrap an English tongue around. I worked with my dialect coach three hours a day, six days a week just to learn how to speak a paragraph of Russian dialogue.”
When Tony Stark refuses to turn over his technology and announces that Stark Industries will no longer manufacture and supply the military with its weapons, it opens the door for the fast-talking Justin Hammer, whose company, Hammer Industries, is vying to become the new go-to player in the weapons manufacturing game.
“At one point very early on in the development of the script, Ivan Vanko and Justin Hammer were one character, a weapons creator, who was Tony’s Russian counterpart,” explains Theroux. “We soon realized it was too much and we needed to split the atom and make it two separate characters. We went to the source material and Justin Hammer was an older guy so we decided to make him more approachable because we wanted someone who could play the yang to Tony’s yin. In Justin Hammer we were looking for a cheaper sort of polyester version of Tony Stark – a guy who is able to fill the void as soon as Tony stops making weapons, but has an ambulance-chasing lawyer vibe.”
Favreau elaborates: “Justin Hammer is a notch below Tony Stark, but he fancies himself as being on the same level. He is extremely competitive with Tony and even though he has more money than he knows what to do with, he is haunted by the fact that there is somebody out there who is better than him. In desperation, Justin reaches out to Ivan Vanko after he is incarcerated for attacking Tony using Stark Industry technology – a technology that he knows he himself can’t create but recognizes the talent in others who can help him.”
In casting the role, the filmmakers selected the versatile Sam Rockwell, who worked with Favreau in his directorial debut, “Made.”
“I thought ‘Iron Man’ was really something special,” says Rockwell. “I had worked with Jon before, so I knew he and Robert were very similar to me in that they like to improvise a lot, which made me feel very comfortable with coming on board. I also really liked the character of Justin Hammer as an arms dealer who is trying to get in good with the American government and be their new Tony Stark. Justin’s a bit of a used-car salesman in that sense, a real wheeler dealer who is kind of like the Jeremy Piven character in ‘Entourage’ mixed with George C. Scott in ‘The Hustler.'”
“Sam is a fabulous actor, which is stating the obvious, but he’s also very playful and willing to explore a scene,” observes Theroux. “He understands that acting is fun, and it should be enjoyed. He’s got a great sense of humor and really knows how to toss the ball around in a scene. Lesser skilled actors will take the ball, run with it, and dump it off as soon as they’re done, but Sam is like the Harlem Globetrotters in that he dips around the court, up, down, between the legs, around the back and out. He really knows how to play with story and character and squeeze the most out of it. Even through he is ostensibly a villain, he is also enormous fun to watch.”
Returning to “Iron Man 2″ after his cameo appearance in the first film is Samuel L. Jackson in the role of Nick Fury, leader of the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization who is keeping a close watch on Tony as he navigates the new challenges that have surfaced.
“We wanted Nick Fury’s energy to be that of a grizzled AA sponsor who has been where Tony is now at,” explains Favreau. “He returns when Tony is perhaps at his lowest point and is there to confront him on a loving but unflinching level with the truth about his father.”
The director continues: “Sam Jackson has tremendous screen presence. The idea that we stuck him in the first film was a bit of a lark and now some of the decisions that Tony made flippantly end up determining our whole story path in this film.”
“Nick Fury comes in and actually gives Tony information about his father, Howard Stark, and what Tony’s position in the Marvel universe should be,” notes Feige. “Tony learns what his dad’s position was and where he was going with the Stark Expo.”
Taking on the role of Howard Stark is veteran actor John Slattery. Howard Stark is a very important character in the Marvel Universe, explains co-producer Latcham. “In the beginning of the first film, you learn about who Howard Stark is and see some pictures of him on magazine covers. After Tony escapes captivity, one of the first things he says is ‘I never got to say goodbye to my father. There’s questions I would have asked him.’ Clearly this relationship is something that Tony still struggles with even though his father has been dead for 20 years.”
Latcham continues: “So much of Tony’s inner conflict goes back to the myth of his father and the things he believes, rightly or wrongly, about him. There are revelations in ‘Iron Man 2′ during which Tony discovers who his father really was and that opens a big door. So we needed a great actor like John Slattery because he is going to tie the whole Marvel universe together with his character.”
Working on both sides of the camera in “Iron Man 2,” director Jon Favreau returns in an expanded role as Tony’s trusty driver and bodyguard Happy Hogan.
“Jon is a very smart director because in the very first story development meeting he said, ‘I’ve got an idea. Happy Hogan needs to have a bigger part,'” laughs producer Feige. “I said, ‘You’re right, the audience is demanding more Happy Hogan and they’re going to get it this time.'”
The producer continues: “In all seriousness, Happy Hogan is a classic character who is in almost the full run of the Iron Man comics as a friend, chauffeur and boxing partner, and audiences will get to see a lot more of that in this film. The character really brings out a side of Tony’s personality that is really fun and the truth is, once the world knows that Tony is Iron Man, the people who are in his inner circle get a lot more mixed up in the action.”
“Last time Happy was basically an extra,” jokes Favreau. “I was told the character was kind of distracting because he didn’t have anything to do; so this time I actually have more scenes. But when I got into the editing room I had some bad news for Jon Favreau the actor because he lost some lines. What do fans want to see, Black Widow in her suit or me dressed as a limo driver? I don’t think I have to answer that question.”
Rounding out the talented cast of “Iron Man 2″ is Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, Leslie Bibb as Christine Everhart, Paul Bettany as Jarvis, Garry Shandling as Senator Stern and cameos by, among others, Larry Ellison and Stan Lee.
Feige reflects upon adding new characters to the story and the team of actors assembled for “Iron Man 2.” “There have been good sequels and some not-so-good sequels, and what we’ve learned is you can’t just cave into the pressure of adding a bunch of new characters simply to up the ante. If you do, the story will collapse very quickly under the weight of all your characters, plotlines and everything you’re trying to service. What we did here is to only introduce new characters who have a direct and substantial impact on the main characters. This makes it more interesting to watch Tony, Pepper and Rhodey deal with the new curve-balls being thrown at them by the new characters: Natalie, played by Scarlett Johansson, Ivan Vanko, played by Mickey Rourke and Justin Hammer, played by Sam Rockwell. These three characters add to the conflict and dilemma with which our lead actors must contend. When you look at the cast of this film, it’s an embarrassment of riches in terms of the caliber of actors we have been able to assemble.”
SETTING THE TONE: FROM DAY ONE
Production on “Iron Man 2″ began in Pasadena, California with Tony Stark testifying at a congressional Senate hearing. The filmmakers were thrilled to see Robert Downey Jr. return with his character’s trademark swagger and biting wit.
“Robert always elevates the scene that is written on the page and makes it his own, but at the same time he keeps it tonally on point,” says D’Esposito. “He also has a magnetic set presence and gave a rousing introduction for his cast mates and director to kick off the production. It really put everyone at ease and set the tone for the collaborative, energized atmosphere that we love to have on set. On our first two days of production we shot the Senate hearing scene, which kicked things off in a big way with almost the entire cast working and Tony going up against a panel of Senators who are not pleased with his reluctance to cooperate with the government.”
“One of the main conflicts for Tony is not only with the United States government but with all of the militarized nations around the world,” says Feige. “They all want his technology and he doesn’t want to give it to anybody and is very confident in the fact that he’s the only one who can do it. As you would imagine, when someone has that kind of unwavering pride, it sometimes leads to a fall when they learn that they’re not the only one out there who can pull it off.”
The Senate hearing was also energized by comedian Garry Shandling, whose cameo as Senator Stern included some hilarious back-and-forth banter with Downey. “For those of you who have never walked into a room and done an improv with Robert Downey Jr., let’s just say – and I’ve never used this phrase before – he is vastly open,” laughs Shandling. “It was a blast to do. Both Robert and Jon have great energy and give you so much support, which only brings about better work.”
“I like to encourage a lot of improvisation on the set and Robert is very quick, unpredictable, and you have to put somebody in the cage with him who can really go toe to toe,” observes Favreau. “Garry is a personal friend and I knew he could hang in there with Robert and something explosive would happen if I put them in a scene together. A lot of what I enjoyed about the first film was the unpredictable quality some of the scenes had that in other movies of the same genre are a little bit more by the book. I knew they were going to cut loose and go a little crazy, but I also knew they would maintain the stakes and the reality at the same time.”
The director continues: “It was really fun and exciting for me to watch take after take and it was a great way to kick off the production. I was so relieved after seeing all the characters old and new working together. I felt like we immediately established the tone of the film.”
One dynamic that didn’t need to be established on day one was the magnetic chemistry between Downey and Paltrow.
“The secret weapon of the ‘Iron Man’ franchise is the chemistry between Robert and Gwyneth,” says Feige. “When you give the script pages to them and they start rehearsing, you sort of tuck the pages away and just watch what they start doing. It’s so honest and real. They stay on the page, they go off the page and then magic starts to happen, which is very emotional and very effective.”
The producer continues: “We put some wedges in between them to give them obstacles to overcome, the biggest one being the introduction of the Black Widow, who comes in under the guise of Natalie Rushman, Tony’s new assistant. When that character is played by Scarlett Johansson, you know there’s going to be a bit of a love triangle going on, but not the way you’d expect, and Pepper Potts doesn’t react to it the way you’d anticipate, which makes it all the more interesting.” For “Iron Man 2,” one of the only practical locations the production revisited from the first film was Edwards Air Force Base in Rosamond, California. For more than 50 years, Edwards Air Force Base (home of the Air Force Flight Test Center) has been the home of more major milestones in flying history than any other place on earth. Covering nearly 301,000 acres, Edwards is located in the Mojave Desert, adjacent to the largest dry lakebed in North America, Rogers Dry Lakebed. Edwards’ focus today, and in the future, is summed up in the Air Force Flight Test Center’s motto: “Ad Inexplorata” – Toward the Unexplored.
With the military having a strong presence in the script of “Iron Man 2,” the filmmakers once again obtained Department of Defense approval. Producer Feige explains the process: “When you get DOD approval on a film, you get access to lots of cool planes and vehicles and other military assets. We had the benefit of a great working relationship on the first film, but we still had to submit the script to the government so they could read it and give us notes. Their main goal was to ensure that the characters associated with the Armed Forces, and the movie in general, personified the military in a somewhat favorable light.”
“Working with the Department of Defense is a really rewarding experience and it really gives the scenes an authentic feel having all their amazing assets in the film,” says co-producer Latcham. “They have B-2 bombers, C17s, F22s, F35s and Edwards Air Force Base has so many great places to shoot. Other than Rhodey and a few others, all the personnel we used in the film were active military personnel. That’s the big difference, because you could shoot in Los Angeles in a hanger with a bunch of extras, but they don’t know how to march, salute or the accurate protocols of the military. With DOD approval, you get real airmen with real guns and they are super-excited to be in the film.”
As part of obtaining DOD approval, the production was assigned Air Force Captain Brian McGarry, who served as the department’s officer on the film. “In my position at the Air Force Entertainment office we work very closely with the industry to discern what we can do to make the creative idea a little more credible, a little more plausible and obviously it works out great for us,” says McGarry. “Here at Edwards Air Force Base, these guys live and breathe air power and getting these birds up in the air, so it’s great production value for the film and great for us to showcase the things that we do on the operational side, as well as giving our folks an opportunity to see how Hollywood works.”
With the character of Rhodey continuing to be an active Air Force Lt. Colonel in “Iron Man 2,” one of McGarry’s most important tasks was giving Don Cheadle all the information he needed to play a ranking officer in the United States Air Force. “Marvel Studios and Jon Favreau really wanted us to provide assistance and guidance for the character of Rhodey,” explains McGarry. “They wanted to make sure the dialogue was correct and he looked and acted the part, and it was a great opportunity for us to have a frontline view in portraying what the Air Force core values are about.”
“Having military advisors on set was very helpful in trying to find the bridge between what is absolutely concrete and true and what is the mythology of who Rhodey is,” notes Cheadle. “You have to find a place to marry those two concepts, and make sure that what is happening would happen on a militaristic level. The people at Edwards were always close by when we needed to ask them anything and they were a pleasure to work with every step of the way.”
One of the many memorable scenes – and a personal favorite of director Favreau – shot at Edwards Air Force Base – was one in which Rhodey pays a visit to arms dealer Justin Hammer searching for some heavy-duty firepower.
“The scene was a late-breaking one, and it never really got a lot of attention in preproduction,” says Favreau. “You have to shoot really fast at Edwards because you just don’t have a lot of time being on an active base. We quickly carted out all of the weapons Justin described with such great superlatives. The scene includes some of my favorite writing of Justin’s and one in which he really got to be poetic in a way that showed him at his very best.”
The director continues: “On that particular day, I changed the order of all of the weapons at the last minute, which was tough for Sam Rockwell because it was two pages of straight dialogue. But what I cared about most was the way he presented the character. It took a while, because there was so much technical information and we used real guns, so you had to get it right because you don’t want to make him seem like an idiot. Sam killed the scene, had a great time and really made a meal of it.”
“It wasn’t easy, but we really cooked up a pretty fun scene,” laughs Rockwell. “It was definitely a three-headed monster. The scene evolved with each take as Justin was able to come up with new lines on the fly. Then I would riff on that, and then on the next take Jon Favreau would say, ‘Well let’s do it like this’ and he’d throw in some ad-libs, so we’d all be mixing it up together. God bless Don Cheadle for staying in the scene and putting up with that.”
“It was a great scene to shoot because basically Rhodey buys the entire store – everything that is shown to him. He says, ‘I’ll take it in pink, purple, green and give me four of them,'” says Cheadle. “It’s also a fun way to set up what the War Machine suit is going to be – an awesome, firepower monster.”
For Cheadle, the shooting days at Edwards Air Force Base also included his first time wearing the Mark II armor. “The practical suit really lets you feel a bit more connected to the dynamic of being inside something like that,” he explains. “It was really cool to get to wear the armor as it is such a big part of the Iron Man legacy and it is so much different than being in a Lycra suit with visual effect balls taped around your arms. It’s great to put on the suit and to know that eventually you will get to take it off because it does get hot and heavy.”
“It was amazing, when we showed up at Edwards Air Force Base for the scene of Rhodey arriving in the Mark II armor, because the amount of gear that the DOD had put on that flight line was mind boggling,” says co-producer Latcham. “If you tally it all up, it would probably come out to over a billion dollars in assets right there on the flight line alone. The people at Edwards were great partners and they provided everything we asked for and let us put up on the screen what their world really looks like, which is really cool, cutting-edge stuff.”
One of the great traditions at Edwards Air Force Base is the carrying of squadron and battalion challenge coins. On the first film, cast and filmmakers received coins from the various squadrons as a sign of appreciation for bringing the film to the base. For the production’s return to the base, Favreau was ready and had a great surprise for the military personnel.
“On the first film, all the battalions and squadrons kept giving Jon these challenge coins, which are a military tradition and everyone on the cast and crew really got into collecting them,” recalls Latcham. “Jon felt bad, though, because when they would give them to him, he didn’t have anything to give in return; so before this film he went out and had these great ‘Iron Man’ challenge coins made up. The whole time we were at Edwards, he was handing them to the military guys who were doing such a good job. They were so popular with the military guys that at one point people were literally showing up to give Jon a coin because they wanted one of his coins. It was such a great outpouring of goodwill and they really appreciated that he understood and respected their culture and traditions.”
After completing work at Edwards Air Force Base, the production returned to Marvel Studios where work began on the new armors for Iron Man. For the filmmakers, the overwhelming popularity of the Iron Man armors was bittersweet due to the passing of special effects makeup legend Stan Winston whose company created the iconic suits.
“I’ve worked with Stan Winston twice and we became close,” says Favreau. “It was very sad when he passed away. When you saw how many big Hollywood people spoke at his memorial, you realized what an integral part of filmmaking he was in the technological revolution that has allowed movies to explode in terms of scale, scope and the ambition of what you can create on screen.”
The director continues: “Stan was not just a practical puppeteer, but also did practical work that integrated with CG. I think ‘Jurassic Park’ is still one of the benchmarks of what was possible in CGI and how to best do it. A lot of that was his handiwork and design work.”
“One of the keys to the success of the first film was that the Iron Man armor was a believable piece of advanced technology and hardware,” says producer Feige. “It wasn’t a magic suit or a super-powered outfit. It was made from a character’s blood, sweat and tears and really looked like a grinded, sparked and screwed-in piece of technology. What audiences saw on the screen was a fantastic combination of ILM’s digital work combined with the amazing practical work of Stan Winston’s group. Stan was the best in the business, a true genius. For ‘Iron Man 2,’ we brought Shane Mahan back on board, who is continuing Stan’s legacy under the new company banner, Legacy Effects. Shane and his team of technicians came into the first meetings with an excellent plan for what the practical suits would be for this film.”
For Mahan and his team of artists, coming back to work on the sequel was far less the kind of trial and error they experienced in designing the suits for the first film.
“There was a steep learning curve and long experimental phase in trying to figure out how to make the suit on the first film,” Mahan explains. “The one mandate from Marvel on the first film was that Iron Man never look or feel simply like a guy in a suit. Although great costumes like that had been created in the past, what the filmmakers wanted was to take the comic book character’s proportions on the page and bring them to life. For my team, it was a monumental challenge to build a full suit that had the right proportions, because there just weren’t any human beings that have big broad shoulders, tiny, tiny little hips, and a head the size we needed to fit into the helmet. After some modifications to the suit, we were able to find some talented stuntmen performers who were very athletic and able to fit into the suit.”
Mahan continues: “We were Stan Winston Studios at that time, so a lot obviously has changed with his passing–but we have the same team, the same drive and the same energy as we did on the first film. We had a much shorter window to build the suits for ‘Iron Man 2′ but we knew the landscape better this time around. The filmmakers really wanted to make the armor lighter and faster for Robert to put on and take off.”
Another decision the filmmakers and Mahan made was that, during production, the Iron Man armors Downey wore would be a half suit, allowing the actor to move more naturally.
“The big puzzle Shane had to solve was how to get the proportion of the suit right but still make it comfortable for the actors and stunt people to wear,” says executive producer D’Esposito. “We worked closely with Shane and the Legacy team and came up with the idea of a football suit, where putting on the armor was almost like putting on a pair of shoulder pads. This not only kept the proportions correct but was also comfortable to wear. The reason we took the legs off was that it made it very hard to get the correct movement and photo realism we needed.”
“This time around we squeezed the proportions into the right shape because we had to make it fit Robert’s anatomy,” says Mahan. “You can’t cheat the proportions or the perspective to hide something. Everything was going to be visible and it was made so that Robert could fit into the suit from the waist up. But the other proportions from the waist down were also correct and I think it was a really successful merger of the practical and the digital because the digital companies could take the physical, full-size piece, scan it and use that as the basis for their computer model.”
“It’s really amazing how fast Shane and his team were able to build the suits,” notes Favreau. “They made the suits more lightweight and out of much more flexible and forgiving materials. Not only did the practical suits inform what we did digitally, but they also allowed us to shoot Robert in the suit, which makes it feel like Tony Stark is really wearing the suit. We never wanted to lose sight of that because Tony is more the star of the film and Iron Man is an alter ego.”
“When Robert put on that suit it came alive and we learned so much about the character he inhabits,” observes co-producer Victoria Alonso. “If you don’t have that physical suit for Robert to wear, as good as we are in the computer graphics world, you don’t quite get there. So we always tried to have it live and practical and when we couldn’t, we tried to create a practical reference so we could either match it or augment it. Robert would wear the half suit and he would have a MoCap suit from the waist down with tracking marks on it so we were tracking its movement. It was similar to being on a motion-capture stage, but we were getting the reality of the suit on Robert Downey’s torso.”
In explaining the challenges and the evolution of the Iron Man suit, producer Feige says that “in coming up with the design of Tony’s suits for this film we wanted to follow what worked and was defined for us in the Iron Man comics for years. It’s really two things. First, Tony’s always upgrading his suit with new ideas and gadgets. Secondly the iconic red and gold face of Iron Man remains more or less unchanged. So we needed to devise suits that still were iconically Iron Man, but at the same time evolve the story we were telling. Tony starts the film in the Mark IV, which still has the iconic circle RT, but if you compare it side by side with the Mark III, it’s sleeker, more dynamic and has many more gadgets. But it remains, unquestionably, Iron Man.”
“In designing the Mark IV, we changed the arms and shoulders but the biggest change was in the legs,” says the film’s Lead Suit Illustrator, Ryan Meinerding. “We really wanted to add a more human gesture to the legs from a front-view. What they did in the Mark III was really great because the legs were very linear and you got the feeling that they were there for thrust and flying. Still, we felt that for some of the action sequences it would probably help to have a little more gesture, to make the poses more dynamic. We also wanted to slim down the shoulder pads in the Mark IV to make it feel a bit more high tech as opposed to football pad-ish. Overall, the main objective in designing it was to make it feel a bit sleeker and streamlined.”
One of the new challenges on “Iron Man 2″ was conceptualizing, designing and building the suit for Tony Stark’s new archenemy Whiplash. Co-producer Latcham explains the evolution of the look of the character.
“We really liked the character of Whiplash, but in the comic he looked like an S&M guy in black with all these buckles and a zipper across his mouth, which was really not what we wanted,” explains Latcham. “We decided instead to take the character and do something new to make him feel more a part of the ‘Iron Man’ world. Ryan Meinerding is one of the most talented concept artists in the entire industry and we felt like it would be a really cool idea for him to design a Whiplash costume that could have been built in a cave with a box of scraps, just like Tony Stark had built his when he was in captivity.”
“For Whiplash, taking the design cues from the actual comic was a little difficult because he’s not exactly an icon of design,” says Meinerding. “We really wanted to add some sort of realism to the character, so we started at a place that was very close to where we started with Tony, but with a low-grade medical RT-like device implanted in his chest. Jon gravitated towards that, but it did appear a little too much to perform surgery on himself, so it evolved into more of an exoskeleton design. Everyone liked that concept and from there we talked to Jon to figure out how much damage he needed to take, because it was a tricky balance between trying to understand how much exoskeleton we needed to put on him and how protected he needed to be.”
For Meinerding, the casting of Mickey Rourke in the role of Whiplash also influenced the conceptual design of the character.
“We always thought the character was going to be this bad-ass Russian prisoner, which is the archetype I went for in the first drawings,” recalls Meinerding. “When we found out it was going to be Mickey Rourke, it definitely added a lot to the design. I ended up doing a new sketch of Mickey as the character, which added a whole new, really gritty, dark dimension to it.”
“The thing that got Mickey really jazzed about the film was a piece of Ryan’s concept art,” Latcham mentions. “When Jon and Kevin Feige met Mickey the first time they showed him two pieces of concept art and said ‘We want you to play this character.’ When Mickey saw the design with the tattoos, straps and burned-out pants, he thought it was really cool and Ryan’s artwork was really instrumental in influencing Mickey to do the film.”
With the design concept in place, the torch was passed to Shane Mahan and his team in building the practical suit that Mickey Rourke would wear on set.
“Ryan gave us the designs for Whiplash and we spoke to Jon and interpreted it as more of an older style, Russian looking, leather belt that electricians wear but with a rawer feel to it,” explains Legacy Effects coordinator Dave Merritt. “We also crafted a bunch of model parts onto it to give it a little more futuristic look.”
For Rourke, the Whiplash suit was great to look at but not so easy to wear for long periods of time. But he found his own way to make it work. “They built a great suit that was very cool-looking, which I really liked because I didn’t really want to be in a full suit,” he says. “Part of the appeal for me was that it was skin and leather, but it still weighed about 40 pounds, not including the arms. The first time I put it on, I said ‘This isn’t going to cut it’ because it was so heavy and cumbersome that I was exhausted after having it on for only a few minutes. So I worked with my trainer for about seven weeks, walking on a treadmill with a 40-pound vest on for 45 minutes so I wouldn’t get exhausted every time I put the suit on.”
The first sequence in which Rourke got to wear the new suit was during the production’s re-creation of a portion of the Monaco Historic Grand Prix. In the scene, Tony Stark’s day of racing is violently derailed by the mysterious Whiplash.
“The Monaco race to me encapsulates all of Tony’s worldly endeavors outside the scope of just Stark Industries and also his passion for racing, something again which was probably passed down by his father,” says Downey. “It’s like the Super Bowl, the European Super Bowl and I think Tony participates as a way of letting off steam because so much has been happening in his life. Of course, it turns out to be the worst idea he’s ever had.”
“With Tony being in Europe, it makes sense that Ivan could make it down from Russia for the race and we thought it would be an interesting venue to have him show up and change Tony Stark’s world as he knows it,” says D’Esposito. “Although Tony escapes and wins the battle, you realize that all Ivan wanted to do was embarrass Tony on the world stage. That was enough for him; he wanted to get his message out there that Tony Stark was not the only guy who has the technology.”
The attack leaves Tony dazed and fending for his life. His only hope comes in using the untested new technology of his Mark V suit. “The Mark V suit is an experimental version that Tony can take anywhere,” says Feige. “It doesn’t have the same kind of weaponry and protection, but it’s kind of a reserve suit that Tony has been tinkering with for a while. The limitations of the suit are as interesting as the attributes of the suit. Tony takes it for a test ride in battle for the first time, which we haven’t seen him do before. It definitely adds to the tension and humor in Monaco when he first faces off against Whiplash on the track.”
The international setting of the Monaco Historic Grand Prix as the backdrop for one of the film’s biggest set pieces was also an important aspect of the evolution of Tony Stark, who the world now knows is Iron Man.
“In this film it was important for us to showcase that Iron Man is a global super hero because he is in the comics,” says Feige. “Spider-Man is very much focused in New York City and a lot of the Marvel characters are focused in certain regions, but Iron Man is absolutely worldwide. He can take off out of Malibu in the suit and be halfway around the world a few hours later.”
“In the first film we had Tony in Las Vegas, but we had to go a step further and think much bigger,” says director Favreau. “Las Vegas is for millionaires, but Monte Carlo is for billionaires, and the idea of having a set piece in Monaco was really exciting for me. Part of the difficulty with these super hero movies is that everything has been done before–so how do you make it different? There are only so many scenarios–so the incorporation of a James Bond-type of panache to Tony Stark’s lifestyle and having his super hero adventures overlap into his personal life seemed cool, and the idea of shooting in Monte Carlo during the Monaco Historic Grand Prix was a compelling one.”
“In ‘Iron Man 2,’ Tony races a vintage Stark racing car in the Monaco Historic Grand Prix. Howard Stark sponsored race cars back in the 1970’s and Tony pays tribute to his father’s legacy by racing one of those classic cars every other year without fail in this historic race,” explains Feige. “People point out to Tony that competing in the race is an irresponsible act for a guy who has clearly put himself in the crosshairs of nefarious elements around the world. He isn’t living a responsible life and starts to feel the pressure of being a super hero. He wants to blow off some steam so he enters the race at the last minute. He ends up getting into trouble, and to have the set piece be on the Monaco circuit mid-race is a spectacle to behold and something that expands the scope and global nature of the movie.”
For the filmmakers, staging the massive sequence first required a scouting trip to Monaco during which they met with Prince Albert of Monaco.
“When the idea of shooting in Monaco was being bounced around we went there to see if it was possible and met with Prince Albert, who was a very nice and gracious host,” says director Favreau. “He was into it after we presented what our vision was for the sequence and how it reflected well on the city. We scouted the race course, which takes place in the city streets. We basically walked the entire track and took pictures which gave us a real good sense of what we wanted to do. We did a whole presentation on what the Stark racing car would be like and showed the official designs we had done because they take their racing very seriously there.”
The director continues: “Since we couldn’t bring the entire production to Monaco, we identified what section of the race course we wanted to duplicate and shot plates there days before the race so that we could capture all the stands and signage. We then built the same section of the track that was used as a foreground in which we could actually flip cars, do explosions, and have thousands of people in the stands, which were built to replicate the actual stands in Monaco.”
Recreating a big crash sequence during the Monaco Historic Grand Prix was a collaborative effort between all of the production’s departments under Favreau’s watchful eye.
“Dealing with race cars is like having a thoroughbred race horse around,” laughs D’Esposito. “They’re very expensive and temperamental. You can only start them up once because it takes twelve people to do it and there is a whole team to keep the car running. I think we came up with the best balance by sending a 2nd unit crew to Monaco to shoot plates and footage of our hero car on the race course a few days before the race. It was an enormous undertaking to build a life-size set with an enormous green screen around the whole practical set so that we could drop in all of the background plates.”
The executive producer continues: “The other part of the equation was pulling off a high-speed car crash, with multiple cars exploding and flipping in the air. It would have been so easy to say, ‘Let’s do that as a digital car crash,’ but a digital car starts to give away that you’re not there and it’s something Jon Favreau does not like. He always prefers to do things practically and add in digitally what we need. He has great people around him like Dan Sudick, who came up with a way to catapult and blow up cars in the air, allowing us to marry that with the actors.”
Special Effects Supervisor Dan Sudick explains the process of how he and his team were able to pull off the high-speed stunt: “For the Monaco crash sequence, we actually built 17 race cars – about a five-month process since we had to figure out the shots, design the track system, and do all of the math for all the gags,” he says. “In order to photograph Whiplash destroying the cars, we had to keep the cameras alongside the car. So basically we built a car that pulls a camera on the track and is synced with the other car as they go down the track. This keeps the camera in the right relationship with the car.”
Sudick continues: “We also needed a POV of the car from behind. So we had about 20 feet to get this second car up to speed, which is 75 miles an hour. When the first car gets 90 feet down the track, we fire the second car off behind it and accelerate to 70 mph to get the right POV relationship with the hero car.”
“Dan Sudick is one of the best special effects guys in the business and is a master at ripping cars apart and throwing cars through the air,” says producer Feige. “One of the things that we like best about this sequence is that Tony Stark plays a big part in it before he gets the Iron Man suit on. You see Tony and he doesn’t have any super powers; he’s just got his brain, which is a pretty good thing to have. But when you’re facing a madman with these RT-powered whips that can cut through anything, you’re in over your head and it’s so much fun to see him deal with that scenario in an exciting way.”
“I think it’s some of the most dynamic footage I’ve ever seen because these cars are really being flipped in the air, tumbling down the quarter mile track and exploding, and the actor is in the scene,” says Favreau. “So a little interactive light and air blowing on them puts Tony right in there and you have an amazing sequence where everything feels completely real and authentic.”
With the Monaco sequence completed and the production returning to Marvel Studios, the filmmakers focused their attention on another action sequence in which Black Widow and Happy Hogan break into Hammer Industries and must fight their way through a cavalcade of security guards at the facility. Stunt coordinator Tommy Harper describes the scene and how he and his team developed and prepared for the sequence.
“Black Widow and Happy Hogan come through the front door of Hammer Industries and encounter the first security guard, who starts to fight with Hogan in a boxing type of a match,” says Harper. “While that is going on, Black Widow makes her way down the main hallway, taking out guard after guard. She ties them up, hangs them up and just plain kicks about 12 different guards’ butts, while Happy is still boxing with one guard in the background. The sequence ends and there are guards strung up from the ceiling and bodies strewn all over the place that Black Widow has taken out. So it’s kind of a humbling moment for Happy and it’s a really great fighting sequence.”
Harper continues: “Scarlett did an amazing amount of training in preparation for this sequence. It was the culmination of about eight weeks of solid training for her–four hours a day with a stunt team that included Jon Eusebio, the fight choreographer, the wire team helping her with the flying elements, and her stunt double Heidi Moneymaker. So what audiences will see in this scene is really like a highlight reel for Black Widow. It really showcases all of her vaulting skills, fighting skills and weapon skills and the character really gets to unload everything in her arsenal.”
For Johansson, performing as many of the physical stunts as possible was something she felt very strongly about.
“I’m very sensitive about when you see an action sequence and the shot is on the back of somebody’s head, and then all of the sudden it cuts and the actor gives that one dramatic pose at the end and it’s obvious that it was not them in the shot before,” says Johansson. “It’s the lamest thing, because you want to see the actor risking their own life, and that is part of what sells it to an audience. So that’s why I worked for months to prepare and I really didn’t want to be perceived as a little wuss who couldn’t do it.”
Despite her strong desire and months of training under her belt, seeing the sequence performed live by the stunt team on set was intimidating for the actress.
“When I first saw it completed and choreographed by the stunt team, I just thought to myself, ‘Oh my god, I don’t know how I’m going to do this,'” says Johansson. “But then I took a deep breath and, with all the training and repetitions we put in during rehearsals, it just started to flow and it became a reality as I was doing it. It was a lot of fun for me to work with all the people Tommy Harper assembled because they are some of the greatest stunt guys out there and were so incredibly supportive. It was very frustrating at times, which I am sure you will see on the DVD, but I think we really nailed it and when Tommy Harper says you got it, then I know we got it and it will be great fun to watch.”
“For the sequence we combined a lot of different fighting styles and Scarlett was game for learning all of them,” says Favreau. “The biggest one was Lucha Libre, a Mexican wrestling style of fighting that seemed silly when they first mentioned it to me. I thought it was a little comical with all of the swinging around, flips, holds and acrobatic moves, but when you see a woman doing it in the Black Widow costume, and it’s not a pot-bellied wrestler with a mask, it has a much different effect. It’s a very exciting, innovative style of entertainment that almost feels like Parkour, but has a freshness to it and it really felt right when I saw it choreographed properly.”
The director continues: “Scarlett really prepared and learned a lot of the moves. She also did her own wirework and really transformed her body. This really helped flesh out her character. She’s just a truly smart actor with wonderful instincts. It’s funny because she’s quite a bit younger than I, but you forget that when you’re talking with her. She’s just so sharp, experienced and has so much acting experience for her age. She really is a fine addition to the film and I think audiences are going to respond in a big way to the character.”
Another addition that makes its first appearance in “Iron Man 2″ is the highly anticipated emergence of the War Machine armor worn by Rhodey in the film.
“In this film, we knew that we wanted Rhodey to put on the Mark II, which would become the basis of the War Machine armor,” says Favreau. “The tension between Rhodey and Tony builds and finally Rhodey realizes that he is being too good of a friend and not serving the greater good of his country. Tony is being irresponsible and it’s dangerous. Rhodey feels like somebody is going to get hurt and that’s when he takes the Mark II away from Tony. That action gave us the opportunity to unveil the gun-riddled version of the Iron Man suit that is War Machine.”
“There are many different looks for all the characters in our comics over the years, and we take what we believe are the signature ones,” says Feige. “We developed a style for the suits in the first film and we wanted to continue that in this film. How bulky we could get, how many weapons we could fit on it, and still have it look like a guy could actually walk around in it were major challenges, but when you have Industrial Light & Magic and Legacy Effects bringing it all to life for us, it’s a huge pleasure to watch it come together. There is a big difference between the silhouette of Iron Man and the silhouette of War Machine, and they needed to have their distinct characters. Even when the masks are closed, you want to feel the different characterizations and the differences between the two of them.”
“War Machine is built upon the base of the Mark II, but Rhodey and the military don’t have Tony Stark adapting it, so it doesn’t have Tony’s engineering genius to make everything sleek and make missiles pop out,” adds executive producer D’Esposito. “They’re not trying to look cool, they’re trying to be effective, and Justin Hammer ends up outfitting it with some of the biggest guns you’ve ever seen – in classic War Machine comic book fashion. For War Machine, it’s much less about the sleekness and cleverness of the design than it is about putting a giant gun on one shoulder, a missile pack on the other and big 50 calibers on the forearms and just having a go at it.”
“We pay off War Machine in this film in a big way, right out of the comic books,” concludes Favreau. “Rhodey’s transition into the character of War Machine is one of the great moments in this film and the fan response to Don Cheadle has been amazing.”
With War Machine as well as all the other armors in “Iron Man 2,” the final product on screen starts with practical real elements that provide a creative canvas for the extremely talented visual effects technicians.
“It’s always been very important to Jon and us that we don’t just make everything CG,” says Feige. “There’s always a joke on set about just ‘fixing it in post.’ While you can fix a lot in post nowadays, one of the reasons we designed the Whiplash outfit the way we did was that we wanted to see Mickey Rourke physically in the suit. We have real race cars, real fire, real explosions and real choreographed fights.”
Feige continues: “It’s gotten much easier to do entire sequences digitally and do them amazingly well – and we definitely have some in this film – but we always felt there’s a way to mix and match practical and digital in a way that the audience doesn’t quite know what’s real and what’s not. If it’s executed well, they’ll just give you the benefit of the doubt and think it’s all real.”
“Shooting practical elements seems big and expensive, but it’s actually less expensive than the type of digital work that would be required to create the scene entirely digitally,” adds Favreau. “Even the strongest proponents of CGI acknowledge that there is a lot to learn and be gained from incorporating practical elements, even into the digital work. CGI is an amazing technology and I have embraced it more than in the past, but I always have been a strong believer that it’s better to have practical elements actors can naturally react to and interact with and subsequently enhance the environment digitally.”
One practical environment that proved to be a fan favorite in “Iron Man” was the hi-tech garage/workshop where Tony Stark creates all his suits of armor. In “Iron Man 2″ the filmmakers and production designer J. Michael Riva decided to add several new elements to the practical set.
“The garage is sort of Tony’s man cave and toy room, and we all agreed that we should add the hall of armor to it this time,” says Favreau. “We have enough suits, so we figured that he salvaged the Mark I and already had the Mark II and Mark III, which is what we saw him wearing at the end of the first film. The hall of armor is something we borrowed directly from the comic book and it has every version of the suit lined up including the new Mark IV in it, so it’s kind of a trophy room/dressing room. I imagine as the films go on, the hall of armor will take up almost the whole room.”
Another upgrade to Tony’s workshop is its new flooring that adds to the set’s sleek and hi-tech feel.
“It’s a little boring to do the same thing each time, so with the garage set we wanted to show progression, so we changed a lot of things,” says Riva. “One of the major changes was the floor, which in the first film was basically just plain concrete. I really felt that we needed to alter it this time around and I was looking at my iPhone and I really liked the glass screen because I think it’s a terrific piece of engineering. So, I thought, what if the whole floor of the garage is glass and there was interactive 3D stuff coming from this giant display right out of the floor? So we added all these little lights into the floor and it looks really cool and all the upgrades in the garage show the evolution of the kind of technology Tony Stark is always pushing forward.”
In “Iron Man 2,” the workshop is not the only set that production designer Riva upgraded. “In the last film, we only got to see the living room, garage and Tony’s bedroom as we were confined by the stages we were shooting on,” he says. “This time the script demanded that we see much more of Tony’s mansion because there is a big fight that moves around the inside of Tony’s house. We had a blank canvas and could do whatever we wanted, so we decided to include a gourmet kitchen, a home gym and a very highly styled giant outdoor patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean.”
“Tony is living in the same house so the question was how to keep the integrity of the house, but still make it look different,” says D’Esposito. “We all felt that Michael Riva really hit it out of the park once again and the beauty, size and scope of Tony’s house is truly breathtaking. Robert ultimately knows more about Tony’s taste and style. He’s an incredible actor who understands what he needs to make Tony Stark’s world come alive. So when he walked onto each set for the first time and his mouth was open saying ‘This is absolutely breathtaking,’ it was really the highest compliment to Michael and everyone involved.”
Riva’s energies were most creatively and impressively harnessed for the Stark Expo, a large-scale set piece that bookends the film. The updated recreation of a World’s Fair required an enormous green screen that took over the Sepulveda Dam and the inclusion of thousands of extras. “The Expo was my biggest challenge,” Riva recalls. “The script called for a futuristic version of a World’s Fair that is all about renewable resources.”
For reference, Riva studied the 1964 New York World’s Fair. “It was immense. It was huge, and that kind of pretty much defined the scale and size of everything we did,” he says. “We ended up having to break it up into pieces. The Japanese Garden is a separate set unto itself. We built the interior of the stage on an actual soundstage. We were able to build all those elements together and have a real interaction with the characters, all of which was then enhanced and put together in the visual effects world.”
Riva provided the special effects team with models of the sets he was building and what he shot on stages and at the Sepulveda Dam, as a reference tool so they could begin the process of their digital enhancement.
With the production winding down its shooting schedule, the talented cast of “Iron Man 2″ reflected on the experience of being part of the blockbuster film franchise.
“‘Iron Man 2′ is bigger, better, and badder,” Cheadle promises. “I hope that audiences feel that it’s deeper, more interesting and gives us some permission to even go further in the next one where we’ll continue to find richer stories and more mischief for these characters to get into.”
“All the characters in this film are so relatable and the story is so charming and that makes it a really fun adventure,” says Scarlett Johansson. “Marvel always does a great job making the stories of their films accessible to everyone, even if you’ve never read a comic book. It’s been an amazing experience for me and the cast I got to work with. The other aspect that was so rewarding was working with Jon Favreau. I have always felt that actors make the best directors and he has such a great way of communicating with actors – a no-bullshit approach to the actor-director relationship. We had a nice rapport between us and he’s so open to suggestions. Obviously he has an improv background and I think he directs in a similar manner. He’s always willing to just throw a line out to you and see what you can do with it. He’s very malleable and we found these scenes sort of blossoming even more as we shot them.”
Downey says that his and Favreau’s relationship is complex and, ultimately, fruitful. “Jon and I are kind of insane, but we’re also grounded and really open-minded. We really gave each other a lot of freedom. There’s an openness that makes it kind of special and we both force the other to use every ounce of innovation he has in him. Again, we take what we’re doing very seriously but we don’t take ourselves particularly seriously and what’s important to us is that people will want to join us in enjoying the ‘Iron Man’ experience.”
Principal photography on “Iron Man 2″ concluded at Marvel Studios stage in Manhattan Beach. For the filmmakers, cast and crew, the experience left them feeling like they had all shared in a significant creative journey. “We were very fortunate that we were able to reassemble almost the entire crew from the first film, many of whom had worked on other Marvel films in the past,” says producer Feige. “We’ve also added great actors and exciting new characters that seamlessly blend into the exciting world of Tony Stark. When you see the Marvel logo, you know you’re in for a fun roller coaster ride. It’s one of the few logos that actually gets applause when it appears up on the screen. What’s really exciting and will be a lot of fun for audiences to see is that there is a terrific pay off to many of the dynamics we set up in the film.”
“I’m very fortunate to have an amazingly talented group of actors to work with on this film,” adds Jon Favreau. “They’re all different types of actors and they all have different processes, but I have to say that I’ve never worked with such a high caliber of talent from top to bottom. We caught people by surprise with the first one, but the bar is much higher now, so this time it’s going to be much harder for people to say, ‘I thought it was better than it was going to be.’ Hopefully with all the hard work everyone involved injected into this film, they’ll come away saying it was as good if not better than the first one.”
With a library of over 5,000 characters, Marvel Entertainment, LLC is one of the world’s preeminent character-based entertainment companies. Marvel’s operations are focused on utilizing its character franchises in licensing, entertainment, publishing and toys. Marvel Entertainment’s areas of emphasis include feature films, DVD/home videos, consumer products, video games, action figures and role-playing toys, television and promotions. Rooted in the creative success of over 60 years of comic book publishing, Marvel has successfully transformed its cornerstone comic book characters into blockbuster film franchises.
In December 2009, The Walt Disney Co. completed its acquisition of Marvel Entertainment and its library of over 5,000 characters. “The Walt Disney Co. is the perfect home for Marvel’s fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses,” explains Marvel Chief Executive Ike Perlmutter. “This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney’s tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world.”
Marvel Studios’ Hollywood renaissance has been nothing short of spectacular, with record-breaking franchises such as “Iron Man,” “Spider-Man,” “X-Men,” “The Fantastic Four” and “Ghost Rider” – resulting in a string of eight consecutive #1 box office openings. Since 1998, Marvel films have grossed more than $6.1 billion worldwide at the box office, firmly establishing the company as one of the most successful entertainment brands in the world.
Marvel Entertainment is currently in production on “Thor,” directed by Kenneth Branagh, and “The First Avenger: Captain America,” directed by Joe Johnson. Its future slate of films in development include “The Avengers,” “Iron Man 3,” “Spider-Man 4,” “Deadpool,” “Ant-Man” and “X-Men Origins: Magneto.” Co-President of Marvel Entertainment and “Iron Man 2″ producer Kevin Feige explains why Marvel has been so successful in adapting its comic book characters to the big screen. “The secret to Marvel comics is the depth and complexity of the characters, all of whom are flawed in some way,” explains Feige. “That’s what makes our characters interesting and why they have withstood the test of time. This dynamic has also allowed us to successfully transition Marvel characters into the film medium and expose them to a large segment of the audience that has never read a comic book.”
The producer continues, “We have also been very fortunate that we have been able to attract uniquely talented actors and directors, as well as the best film technicians from top to bottom, which has resulted in the best kind of mega-event movies out there.”
TRANSCRIPT FROM PRESS CONFERENCE BELOW
Los Angeles – In a unique turn of movie box office events – the movie Iron Man 2 was released in theaters LAST WEEK, more than a full week before it hits United States theaters. Wild About Movies attended a press conference in Los Angeles on April 23, 2010, (orginally scheduled for London, but changed at the last minute due to the horrific Icelandic volcano), and today, we bring you quotes from the stars of Iron Man 2. Everyone from Robert Downey Jr, and Gwyenth Paltrow, to newcomers Scarlett Johansson and Don Cheadle, as well as director Jon Favreau.
Question: For Robert and for Jon, did you feel pressure doing a sequel to the first film which was such a blockbuster and knowing that the fans were just waiting with bated breath?
Jon Favreau: You’re throwing a party and you don’t know if people are going to show up. Here we knew people were going to show up and we just wanted to make sure everyone had a good time and it was just going to be as fun or more fun than the last party. So, different kind of pressure.
Question: Jon Favreau and Kevin Feige, talk about the timeline for IRON MAN 2 and how it fits in with ‘Thor,’ ‘Captain America,’ and ‘The Avengers?’
Kevin Feige: It takes place before but if you pay attention at the end of the film you’ll see a little clue that tells you it’s happening before ‘The Incredible Hulk.’
Jon Favreau: The whole idea of an Easter egg is that you don’t talk about it.
Kevin Feige: Yeah, or Tweet about it.
Question: There was a snippet in the trailer where Pepper Potts was in the plane with Tony, was that meant to be a part of the Stark expo scene where he’s flying down from the plane?
Jon Favreau: Yes. That was, we had different versions of things that we tried, that was something that was a great image and we love and a scene that is going to be in the DVD. But we had two different versions of it and because of the pacing and the way that we reveal Tony Stark, it felt really good to flow into the drop down and reveal him for the first time on stage. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie this doesn’t make any sense, but often times in the editing room we figure out what combinations of scenes…
Robert Downey, Jr.: Gwyneth is just finding out that scene was cut Jon. You might be a little more sensitive.
Question: Mickey Rourke: That was an electrifying performance. Talk about what it was like to play that character and how much fun you had.
Mickey Rourke: I had a lot of fun. It was great cause I worked with some great people and it was real easy, this one here is real easy to work with, makes it fun, and ah it was nice cause I just came off working on a film that there was no budget and I didn’t even have a chair to sit in. I remember the first day I asked for a cappuccino and they asked me what kind I would like. So…
Question: Don Cheadle: Your character Rhodey was played by Terrence Howard in the first one, how did you feel when the opportunity arose for you to play this role in this movie, and how cool was it for you to put on the IRON MAN suit? I mean War Machine suit?
Don Cheadle: Well I don’t know why the War Machine suit was actually made of metal and his was made of light fiber glass material, but maybe it was just an initiation, but I felt very fortunate to get the opportunity to work in a film like this. You know Terrence is a friend and I’ve known him for a long time and I was one of the producers on ‘Crash,’ I put him in that, so it was good to also kind of see him and put anything to bed that people thought was a problem; it wasn’t. We’re cool. And it was, look, it’s a lot of fun. We get to play with the best toys and the best technology so it was just kind of doing what you liked to do as a kid, but all flushed out.
Robert Downey, Jr.: The reason Don’s suit was heavier is that it’s almost impossible to get that mirror like look of a polished metal with CGI. Umm, I would not wish it on an enemy.
Don Cheadle: We’re going to have to come up with a different substance for the next one.
Robert Downey, Jr.: It was horrific.
Don Cheadle: A different material.
Question: How hard is it to balance the, keep it natural, the Tony Stark story, while trying to feed in stuff that builds towards the ‘Avengers’ franchise thing? Is it hard to sort of shoe horn Nick Fury in there? Does it work for you? And the other thing is, can you talk a little bit about Sam Rockwell’s performance in here? He made an incredible Justin Hammer, and why didn’t he make the big poster?
Jon Favreau: Ah well let’s see, the characters trick is to make them, to feather them in, so they don’t overwhelm the story and you know suffer from villainitis. And so by having Justin Hammer and Mickey Rourke’s character come together fairly early, you really have two story lines that are weaving, you don’t have five separate story lines. The same thing with Scarlett as Black Widow working her way into Gwyneth and Robert’s story. So we really try to keep flows, of narrative flows going that don’t get too convoluted. Cause I would lose track of that stuff. I get, especially in sequels, as the franchise is getting more complex, I don’t always remember what happened in the last movie. Not for nothing, I like to watch the stuff blow up, but I’m not going to go do homework before I go see a sequel, to be up on everything. And so we tried to keep that simple. And Justin Hammer, I mean Sam Rockwell was somebody that I known and thought would work really well with Mickey, he doesn’t get intimidated by talented performers and movie stars. He’s done a great job with a lot of people.
Question: Jon: I notice that your glorified extra role from the first movie definitely got much more flushed out. I was wondering why you decided to move in on the action yourself. And Robert, I notice that your wife’s name was in the credits as a producer and she was not last time and I was wondering what that was like for you.
Robert Downey, Jr.: Do you wanna swap questions?
Jon Favreau: That’d be great. We just get asked these questions a lot. Susan, ah, Susan is a great producer, who has, it’s not like she came on board and became a producer to, because, we’re making IRON MAN. Quite the contrary. We were funneling towards a start date and we had a lot of ideas spread out and we had bulletin boards and Justin was there and Robert was there and Kevin and myself and Jeremy Latcham, with index cards trying to figure out how to make the work flow through. And she has tremendous organization ability and she understands Robert’s creative process and she understands the first movie and lived through it with us. And so Susan, who has a very strong background in development and physical production, was able to come in and just help. It’s like one of those shows where they just organize all of your closets for you and make you throw out all of the clothes that you don’t need anymore. But is takes somebody who says, you’re never going to wear that again. They’re never going to fit in that. And they throw it away. Or give it away, or figure our where…
Robert Downey, Jr.: On a certain level, they might have thought that she was going to come in and tame me or put me in check or whatever, but I was completely out of my mind. Let’s talk about Happy Hogan. There’s three Happy Hogan’s in the movie. The Jon Favreau that was in excellent shape, he was boxing every day pre-production and made it into the ring for the scene where he gets his ass handed to him by Scarlett. It was originally a longer scene and maybe he was just too emasculated to let it be in the movie, but I think you laid the boots to him quite severely.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Is that not in the movie?
Jon Favreau: No that’s in there.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Oh.
Jon Favreau: He’s on a run, let him…it’s in the movie.
Robert Downey, Jr.: And then about midway, he’s struggling with a mega fast, occasionally bingeing with pizza, but I gotta get back in…
Jon Favreau: Can I have my question back?
Robert Downey, Jr.: By the time we were doing reshoots, they were framing him out of shots. Umm here’s the thing though. He’s, this is one of the things that I love about you.
Jon Favreau: Here we go. Now kiss me on my cheek and after you’re done with me.
Robert Downey, Jr.: Yeah, and so, that’s how we do it.
Jon Favreau: Give me a dollar and a towel. And cab fare and walk me to the lobby.
Robert Downey, Jr.: You know I don’t have the upbeat part. I forgot it. Pressing on.
Jon Favreau: I thought he could be an, a sort of, untraditional interesting other way to go as we were listing a lot of younger actors that didn’t have a lot of experience. That were a little more, traditionally, what you’d think for a super hero role. Then when I met Robert, we pretty much clicked, and I knew that that was, that was the guy. But, as Justin Hammer, I think you see like a cool goofy image of what he…Justin Hammer wishes he was Tony Stark and he really embraced that aspect of the character. And I think it’s really fun, in a really fun way.
Question: Scarlett was fantastic as Black Widow. There was talk at one point of a spin-off movie for her. I think that anyone who sees the movie would love to see that. Is that still a possibility?
Kevin Feige: Hell yes.
Scarlett Johansson: Kevin?
Kevin Feige: Absolutely.
Question: Jon. What cool extras do you have planned for the DVD and Blue Ray release?
Jon Favreau: Well we have, there are a lot of featurettes. We were running cameras behind the scenes all the time. We don’t like to really like to show too much of it before the movie comes out to keep some surprises, but everything was very well documented. And as you can see, we have a very interesting group of people. And so, between the interviews, you get s really good sense, we’re fans of these movies. Kevin and I are always swapping back and forth books and things about the movies that we grew up loving. And so we documented very well so there is going to be pretty extensive featurettes and then commentary this time around and also deleted scenes that we thought would be interesting for people to see. So it’s more a movie fan set of extras, people who really want to immerse themselves.