|“Iron Man 2” opens May 7|
At a press conference held last Friday in support of Paramount and Marvel Studios’ “Iron Man 2,” director Jon Favreau explained why Tony Stark’s grand entrance — a moment seen in the trailers — was cut from the final theatrical version. “We had different versions of things that we tried. That was something that was a great image — a scene that’s going to be on the DVD — but we had two different versions of it and because of the pacing [we had to cut it],”said the director. It came down to just how he wanted to introduce Tony into the sequel. “It felt really good to flow into the drop down and reveal him for the first time on the stage. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, it doesn’t make any sense, but often times in the editing room we figure out what combinations of scenes…”
At that moment, Favreau was interrupted by star Robert Downey, Jr. “Gwyneth is just finding out that that scene was cut, Jon. You might be a little more tactful,” he interjected.
Paltrow laughed, “Nothing would surprise me anymore.”
Also joining the two leads and the director for questions were producer Kevin Feige, screenwriter Justin Theroux, and fellow stars Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johanson and Mickey Rourke.
Asked if there was more pressure going into the second film than the first, Downey responded with humor. “I didn’t sleep last night. I didn’t sleep last night!” He then offered the question to director Favreau.
“For me, there wasn’t the same pressure that you’re used to seeing, especially coming up with smaller movies where you’re throwing a party and you don’t know if people are going to show up,” the director explained. “Here, we knew that people were going to show up. We just wanted to make sure that everyone who showed up had a good time and that this was going to be fun or more fun than the last party.”
Cheadle takes over for actor Terrance Howard in the role of Colonel James Rhodes, more affectionately known as Rhodey. In the first film, Howard looked at the Mark II armor and said, “Next time,” but Cheadle ended up in strapping into it to become War Machine in “Iron Man 2.” “I don’t know why the War Machine suit was actually made of metal and [Robert’s] was made of a light fiberglass material,” Cheadle joked about the costume. “Maybe it was just an initiation.”
|Scene from “Iron Man 2”|
Howard’s departure from the role made headlines, but Cheadle says there is no bad blood between them. “Terrence is a friend and I’ve known him for a long time. I was one of the producers on ‘Crash’ and put him in that. So it was good to also kind of see him and put anything to bed that people were thinking about that might have been a problem. It wasn’t. We’re cool.”
With both the director and writer of “Iron Man 2” also being well-known actors, their cast was naturally offered great freedom to create on the set. “My job as the writer was really to just stay on the edges for Robert and Jon and Gwyneth and everybody and just sort of try and rewrite things on the fly,” Theroux explained. “We did have an extensive development process, obviously, where we actually had a script and then that ball just keeps rolling into production and then once we’re on set it gets very frenetic very fast.”
“The story was very well fleshed out,” added Favreau. “But we leave a lot of room in those scenes and try to do multiple cameras sometimes or stay up and rewrite. Justin was doing multiple passes, sometimes double digit passes on scenes because we learn things from each scene that we shoot.”
Unlike most films, Favreau shot the majority of scenes in the order of the story, as opposed to the out-of-order method that is generally used for practical reasons. He credits his actors for rolling with the punches. “They’re all very good stewards of their characters, emotionally, and they’re used to being in films where you don’t have the safety net of all the high technology and the explosions. So if they have an issue with something that we’re asking the character to do for the story, we discuss it and we figure out a way that it can work for them as a performer and also for the movie,” Favreau said.
When Downey was asked about the physical challenges of the Iron Man role, Paltrow cut him off to joke, “He made them do it all in CGI, like, ‘CGI it! I’m walking off!'”
“‘Draw me!'” added Cheadle.
|Scene from “Iron Man 2”|
“The mental and emotional aspects and development of Tony, to me they were a lot more personal. It’s not necessarily relating to my life, but just the mythology of saying you’re something and being that thing or something entirely different,” Downey said. “Also, [there is] this whole idea of Howard Stark and the shadow of that legacy that [Mickey and I] were always talking about; being two sides of the same coin. One who was able to escape that captivity and one who saw his father die and having to reckon with that.”
While being something of a boys movie, “Iron Man 2” also features strong female roles in the form of Black Widow and Pepper Potts. Johanson and Paltrow discussed their places in the framework of the film. “They’re sexy characters and you have a sexy secretary or a girl swinging around by her ankles in a cat suit — that’s innately sexy,” started Johanson. “But the fact is that these characters are intelligent, ambitious, motivated and calculated to some degree. To be just a pawn in this story of a whole bunch of men fighting it out and rolling around and getting down and dirty and there you are to be the sort of vision in a tight cat-suit would be a boring thing to me. I think that Jon really made that very clear in the beginning, that he felt as far as Black Widow was concerned — or that Natalie was concerned — that she was mysterious and nuanced and something to kind of peel back the layers to.”
“I agree with Scarlett,” Paltrow said. I think it’s a very smart decision, actually, to have women who are capable and intelligent because it appeals to women. So it’s not only a film for 15 year-old boys. It’s a film that can relate to a lot of people on a lot of levels, and a lot of my girlfriends like it because of the romance.”
Paltrow argues that Johanson’s cat-suited persona also appeals to women. “It doesn’t look gratuitous. It looks like there are interesting women in the movie and, certainly from the first one, too, my character is quick and she’s articulate. I think that makes it so that when you take your kid — if you’re a mom — it’s really fun for you to watch as well. So it’s nice to see women who are aspirational, smart and sexy all at the same time.”
Cheadle added, “I think that fifteen year old boys are into that, too.”
|Scene from “Iron Man 2”|
Asked if Black Widow would see her own film down the road, Favreau responded, “I would love to see that.”
Johansson looked to producer Feige and asked, “Kevin?”
“Definitely possible,” he answered.
Downey was asked if he would be playing a character in a different franchise. He responded, “Anything that’s going on, just imagine that it’s been offered to me.”
“‘Precious 2,'” joked Cheadle.
“Iron Man 2” opens May 7.
Iron Man 2 Video on CBR TV