Keeping a lid on ‘Iron Man 2’
SAN DIEGO ó When we last saw Tony Stark, he was outing himself to the world ó a superhero without secrets.
Jon Favreau isnít buckling so easily. On this day at last summerís Comic-Con, the actor-turned-director is jealously protecting Iron Man 2ís surprises in advance of its May 7, 2010 launch.
Even if he knows he has as much chance keeping his tightly-guarded sequel from springing leaks as he does constructing a battle suit in an Afghanistan cave.
ìI got to tell you, all the secrets we thought we had the first time out ó very few of them made it all the way to when the movie came out,î he admits, referring to the post-credits cameo by Samuel L. Jackson as SHIELD director Nick Fury.
ìThat Nick Fury thing was out there on (the website) Ainít It Cool News less than a week after we did it. We shot with a skeleton crew on a dark day ó nobody knew about it. We thought we were so clever, and then everybody knew.î
Still, there are worse things, he realizes. Such as directing a movie in which there is so little interest no one is bothering to spoil it. A few years ago, itís a fate most observers believed would likely befall Iron Man ó the umpteenth comic-book adaptation about a B-grade character, starring unconventional choice Robert Downey Jr. and bankrolled by Marvel Studios, in its first self-produced attempt at moviemaking. But reviews were excellent, and the film rocketed to a box-office haul of more than $585 million worldwide.
Now two years later, the sequel is 2010ís most-anticipated movie, with Downey Jr. back and joined by ó in addition to returning Gwyneth Paltrow and Jackson ó newcomers Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke and Don Cheadle, who replaces Terrence Howard.
Says Downey Jr. of the new cast members: ìI feel really beholden to say to them, ëI guarantee you and I promise you that we will work our asses off to really pay this character off.í And I guess the problem is, or the challenge was this time I was essentially saying that to three or four new people. Jon and I were telling Mickey that he wouldnít just play a two-dimensional nemesis. We were thrilled to get Scarlett, and we said, ëYouíre not just going to be like some kind of B Marvel spin-off.í î
Even if sometimes it meant accommodating the odd feathered co-star, says Favreau.
ìWe sculpt scenes and change them as we learn things about the characters. Or Mickey Rourke wants a pet. Iíd seen a picture of him with a cockatoo that he used to own. And so heís like, ëHow about that? Thatís my favourite animalí and heís like, ëMaybe it could humanize this guy.í That wasnít something in the script. You want the freedom that (Francis Ford) Coppola brought to The Godfather, where Marlon Brando finds the cat on the set and is playing with it in that scene. What you donít want is Brando wearing an ice bucket on his head. Thatís the balancing act.î
And so far itís an act Downey Jr. seems pleased to be part of, exhibiting no symptoms of franchise fatigue.
ìI tend to just think of (Marvel) as this kind of unspoiled area of activity in a very wonderful, treacherous industry.î
WHOíS WHO IN ‘IRON MAN 2’
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.): With various forces aligning against him, the former care-free billionaire arms manufacturer now faces betrayal and danger from all sides.
Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow): Sheís the CEO of Stark Industries now, but that doesnít mean there still arenít feelings between her and Stark – and a lot of romantic tension now that he has a beautiful new assistant named Natasha.
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson): Lest you think the director of the spy organization SHIELD is going anywhere, Jackson has a nine-picture deal with Marvel.
Whiplash/Vanko (Mickey Rourke): This tattooed Russian villain builds himself a battle suit in prison and embarks on a mission of cybernetically-enhanced vengeance.
Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson): She has red tresses, curves – and a black cat-suit worth of secrets. Namely that sheís also the mysterious Black Widow.
Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell): A slick, amoral weapons inventor, he conspires to take out his chief rival, Stark, who is now pre-occupied with saving the world.
James Rhodes (Don Cheadle): ìNext time, baby,î Terrence Howard promised himself at the end of the first film. Well, not quite. Instead itís Cheadle – who landed the role after Howard and Marvel had a falling out – who gets to fly into action as the bullet-grey War Machine.
Keeping a lid on ‘Iron Man 2’