Robert Downey Jr. Is Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. is ready to become one serious metalhead–the actor has signed on to play the title role in Iron Man, Paramount Pictures’ feature film based on the famed Marvel superhero.
Downey will play Tony Stark, a billionaire industrialist and brilliant inventor, who, after a near-fatal accident, builds a high-tech, nearly impenetrable suit of armor that gives him superhuman strength and other powers, which he uses to fight the baddies.
Jon Favreau, a longtime comic buff (and costar of another Marvel adaption, Daredevil), will helm Iron Man. Marvel Entertainment is producing the $100 million action-adventure, the first time the company is fully financing a film based on one of its characters. Paramount will serve as distributor.
The idea for a screen version of Iron Man has been kicking around Hollywood for nearly a decade, but despite the interest of Tom Cruise and Nicolas Cage to don the armor, the project never got off the drawing board until now.
Iron Man was created by Larry Lieber, Stan Lee, Don Lee and Jack Kirby and premiered in Marvel Comics’ Tales of Suspense #39 in March 1963. Stark’s red-and-gold-hued metallic alter ego originally battled Communists during the early years of the Vietnam War, often appearing alongside Captain America.
But Stark evolved into a more complicated comic book figure, whose fought crime and personal demons, including alcoholism–something to which Downey can no doubt relate.
The actor’s well documented battles with booze and drug addiction landed him behind bars and nearly wrecked a career that includes a Best Actor Oscar nominee for 1992’s Chaplin.
Downey reportedly lobbied hard for the role, working out and growing a goatee styled like the one Stark sports in the comic book. Iron Man will mark the actor’s first big-budget action flick.
“In every casting announcement we’ve done, people in their mind’s eye have their own view of it and let us know about it. We’re used to it,” Kevin Feige, Marvel’s president of production, told the Hollywood Reporter. “The point is, we looked at everybody, and we found the best person for the role. It’s as confident a casting move as we’ve ever done. The proof will be in the pudding, but he is Tony Stark.”
According to trade reports, Iron Man’s initial outing won’t focus on Stark’s drinking problem, but producers say those issues may be covered in sequels, should the franchise take off. Instead, Iron Man’s plot is expected to contemporize the storyline and likely include the hero battling terrorists.
Downey most appeared in a quartet of 2005 releases: George Clooney’s Oscar-nominated Good Night, and Good Luck, Shane Black’s off-kilter indie thriller Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Disney’s remake of The Shaggy Dog, and Richard Linklater’s trippy sci-fi flick, A Scanner Darkly.
The actor’s upcoming projects include the indie caper A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints; Lucky You, a drama which reunites him with Wonder Boys director Curtis Hanson; David Fincher’s crime caper Zodiac, starring opposite Jake Gyllenhaal; and the Diane Arbus biopic Fur, starring Nicole Kidman and due out Nov. 10.
Downey also recently inked a deal with HarperCollins to publish a memoir.
Iron Man starts shooting in February and is scheduled to hit in theaters in May 2008.
Robert Downey Jr. Is Iron Man