By far, one of the most exciting events at this year’s Comic Con International was the “Iron Man 2” presentation. Almost seven thousand fans waited hours to pack into Hall H last Saturday and get their first glimpse at footage from the highly anticipated new film. If the overwhelming roar from the hall was any indication, it’s safe to say that fans were not disappointed.
One of the most important aspects of the first film’s success was the performance of two-time Oscar nominee, Robert Downey, Jr. as Marvel Comics’ industrial playboy Tony Stark. CBR News had the opportunity to sit down with Downey at this year’s CCI and discuss his career, the new Iron Man film, the character of Tony Stark, the introduction of the Black Widow, and his involvement in the inevitable Avengers movie.
CBR: Do you feel more confident with the role of Tony Stark now, and did that make this Iron Man movie more fun for you than the last one?
ROBERT DOWNEY, JR.: Confidence was higher. “Fun” is not necessarily the word I would use to describe it. We felt we had to spend more time with it. We had broadened our cast and our horizons. The story is actually significantly more complex and subtle, but you can still follow it. It beats out. So no, I don’t want to say that it was “fun.” It flew by which was also odd because we felt every punch, every moment, every laugh and everything the last time. This time it it was a really trying process to get this down to the best of our ability.
What do you think was the most difficult aspect of making the new film?
What does everybody offer? How do we make sure that all these insanely gifted people — who are used to being number one on their own call sheet, who’ve come to join us to play — how do we give them a real beginning, middle and end? How de we make them pertinent to a story that actually could have easily been told just continuing along the same lines if we were brining in another non-descript bad guy and kicking ass? So I think the trickiest part was living up to the ambition.
Without giving away too much about the film, can you tell us a little about the plot?
Well, a big through-line for this has to do with what we did after the credits last time, where Nick Fury comes in and says you’re part of something bigger than you know. There’s something to be said about legacy and there is something missing in [Tony]. Obviously what’s kept him alive is a miniaturized version of something his father created. But things aren’t always as they seem and obviously someone arrives on the scene.
All I know is [director] Jon [Favreau] really made some smart moves in the things he’s decided to prioritize. For me, this film is really about Tony’s secret journey into his deepest fears, his sense of obligation, his sense of legacy with his father, his sense of brotherhood with Rhodey and his ongoing deep love and respect for Pepper.
Is there going to be a love triangle in the film between Tony, Pepper and the Black Widow?
I think we essentially started off saying there would be a love triangle and then we realized that love triangles and double-love triangles are done in these superhero movies all the time. What we wanted to do was do something just a little bit freakier than that and I believe we have succeeded. Black Widow is a great character because she is not what she appears to be. I don’t even know if it’s so much a love triangle as Pepper is exactly what she appears to be, except there is a lot more going on at the surface and that’s brought to bear this time.
How has Tony changed this time around?
Last time we saw him as this kind of hapless, charming prick that has his ass handed to him and then is almost snuffed by the very person he thought he could trust above everybody else. I think, to dial it back a little bit, you have to imagine that just because someone has a life changing experience that doesn’t really mean they’ve changed. I think that Tony is seeking solace in the archetype. Its one thing to say you’re Iron Man but it’s another thing to actually be a righteous person. I think he struggles with that because he’s not really all that different.
So he’s wrestling with his inner demons?
Oh sure, that’s not really the point of this one but let me put it this way: if he has a birthday party, expect it to go desperately sour.
How involved are you, at this point, with the Marvel Studios crossover event “The Avengers?”
I’m not as savvy about that stuff. I just know that right now we got a really good thing going on and it’s most important to not sully that. So I’ll listen to the professionals and I’ll just keep selling soap until I’m otherwise notified.
Are you surprised at the effect that “Iron Man” has had on your career?
Yeah, it’s pretty miraculous. But in the realm of miracles I think it’s probably like a two or three, I guess, because it’s a movie industry thing. Nonetheless, it’s more mind blowing to me because I had always felt like I wanted and could do something like this.
You’ve had a great few years with your Oscar nomination for “Tropic Thunder” and the success of “Iron Man” and the buzz for “Sherlock Holmes” and “Iron Man 2.” How do you feel about this stage of your career?
The best thing I can do, and I think this is the thing that’s been my saving grace, is I consider myself a worker amongst workers and when I deviate from that, things don’t turn out so sweet for me.
“Iron Man 2” suits up in 2010.