"I think (Robert's own success) informed the level of fame and resurgence that Tony Stark experiences since he announces that he's Iron Man," director Jon Favreau told reporters.
In "Iron Man 2", Stark himself is no longer making weapons -- just saving the world and enjoying his rock star status. Except now the U.S. government insists that he hand over his superhero suit to the military. Stark refuses.
Favreau likened the sequel to someone throwing another party after a successful first bash. "Iron Man" earned $585 million at worldwide box offices and the pressure was in making sure "this was going to be as fun or more fun than the last party," he said.
Putting together the sequel began soon after the first movie was released. With plenty of characters vying for a finite amount of screen time in the sequel, Favreau needed actors who could really "make an impression."
Gwyneth Paltrow is back as Pepper Potts, who Stark promotes from assistant to CEO of his Stark Industries. At the same time, Stark needs to solve the mystery behind new character, Russian villain Ivan Vanko, played by Mickey Rourke.
Rounding out the new cast is Scarlett Johansson, sporting red hair as The Black Widow, and Sam Rockwell as weapons manufacturer Justin Hammer. Don Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard in the role of Lt. Col. James Rhodes.