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Jon Favreau appeared at the Hero Complex Film Festival on Sunday for a Q&A session after a screening of Iron Man and Iron Man 2. As he reminisced about the lighting in a bottle quality of the first film, he was joined on stage by a surprise guest – Tony Stark himself, Robert Downey Jr.
Taking a break from the New Mexico set of The Avengers, Downey Jr. weighed in on how shooting with the other giants in the Marvel movie universe is going so far. He and Favreau also discussed Shane Black inheriting directorial duties on Iron Man 3 – and the inevitable challenges that lay ahead of him.
Last year, Favreau rather diplomatically asserted that the reason he opted out of directing Iron Man 3 was that he had chosen to make Magic Kingdom for Disney instead. Still, rumors persist that tensions ran highbetween Favreau and Marvel Studios during the production of Iron Man 2 – and that their bruised relationship was a significant factor in Favreau’s decision to jump ship.
Even after Black was chosen as his replacement, Favreau indicated that he was still willing to reprise his role as Tony Stark’s bodyguard Happy Hogan in Iron Man 3. He re-iterated this again on Sunday, but joked that his involvement is contingent on a particular list of demands (thanks to /Film for the transcript):
Favreau: If The Freak isn’t in it, I’m not doing it. If Happy Hogan doesn’t turn into The Freak, I’m not doing it. Here’s what happens to Happy Hogan, he marries Pepper Potts-
Downey Jr: Wait a minute, you want both?
Favreau: I want a love scene with Pepper Potts with my shirt on and I want to transform into The Freak.
All kidding aside, Favreau admits that he’s tremendously supportive of Black – and that in addition to playing a supporting role in front of the camera, he might be playing one behind the scenes as well. Downey Jr. revealed that he and Favreau consulted Black for some ideas during pre-production on one of the earlier films – and now that Black is calling the shots, he’s determined to keep Favreau in the fold:
The negotiations have begun and so far I’m in agreement on every point. Well Shane, interestingly enough, there was a point when Jon and I were stuck on an idea [with a previous film]. We were just in an exploratory phase. So I said, ‘We should talk to Shane.’ And I was like, ‘Shane, we can’t really pay.’ And he was like, ‘Bring me some salmon and some blueberries.’ And we went to Yoda’s house in Miracle Mile and it wound up coming in handy, particularly for a couple scenes. So what I can say about this kind of circle of life thing is Shane, as he’s getting into the process [to direct Iron Man 3] and getting his sea legs and stuff, he goes, ‘When can we talk to Jon?’ So there’s going to be this kind of conglomerate of efforts.
Favreau is excited to see what Black brings to the franchise, but he also recognizes one of the major challenge that Iron Man 3 faces – telling a solo Tony Stark story after audiences have seen the character’s epic team-up with Captain America, The Hulk, and Thor in The Avengers:
"I love the franchise and I’m a big fan of Shane’s as well so hopefully I can be helpful because I want to see this thing grow and transform. And actually, when it finally landed on Shane, it was like, ‘All right, that’s gonna be something interesting.’ Especially because it’s gonna be so difficult for whoever does that one because although it’s Iron Man 3, the whole Avengers thing…I guess in comics you can say that it’s an individual storyline and you can break it off into a group. But in movies, it’s hard not to take into consideration what just happened. What are you gonna say? ‘They all just lost their cell phones and you can’t get help?’ So it’s going to take a lot of ingenuity to make it make sense to a mainstream film audience as well as a comic book audience."
Black is co-writing Iron Man 3‘s script with Drew Pearce and a few of his previous comments suggest that rather than attempt to one-up The Avengers, his film will instead boast a noticeably different tone and approach. The intention is to have Stark face off against “real world villains” in a story that’s evocative of a Tom Clancy thriller. So while Favreau makes a good point, it seems like everyone is in agreement that if anyone can pull this off, it’s Shane Black.
Speaking of The Avengers, Downey Jr. got surprisingly candid about his initial skepticism towards the project – an attitude that evidently prevailed even as cameras started rolling. He admits that there was a point where he feared that the film was overstuffed and derivative, but that director Joss Whedon somehow managed to instill order amidst all that chaos:
"Well, I hate everybody. [Audience laughs] I’m not talking about the cast, I’m not talking about Joss. What I mean is I tend to look at a scene and say ‘This is absolutely impossible, we can’t shoot this, it’s horrible. I can tell you 10 other movies its been in, I refuse.’ I usually start off the morning by refusing to do what I’ve signed on to do. So I brought that attitude, happily. I just thought ‘How are you gonna put all of us clowns together? He’s wearing a suit, he’s all jacked up, he’s so and so and poor Mark Ruffalo, he’s gonna out do us’. And we’re about six weeks in and I have to say Joss Whedon is nailing it. He’s so smart and so good. And it’s gonna be great. I can’t believe I just said it, I never could’ve believed this but it’s gonna be great."
Someone is bound to point out that actors will very rarely criticize a film they’re still in the middle of making, but Downey Jr.’s response seemed more genuine than a go-to positive comment. Then again, he once called Due Date the second greatest movie he’d ever made – so I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.
Iron Man 3 is already shaping up to be a unique and interesting addition to the series and the fact that Black wants Favreau involved (even if it’s just in a minor consulting capacity) indicates that he respects the franchise’s origins and reaffirms that Marvel probably made the right choice bringing him on board.
The Avengers hits theaters May 4, 2012 and Iron Man 3 is currently scheduled for release May 3rd, 2013.
Chris Schrader blogs at Screen Rant.
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