This past June, CBR News was instructed to go south - well, not that far south really, but to expansive wherehouse studios in Playa Del Rey, California where at one time Howard Hughes built planes, but today major motion pictures are filmed. The reason for the visit? To check out the set of "Iron Man" and to chat with the stars and film makers of the film.
When the "Iron Man" feature film was first announced, long time fans of the character were skeptical. While Marvel had a pretty good track record of turning their characters into film franchises - the Spider-Man and X-Men movies for instance - there have been missteps with other characters along the way. In addition, Tony Stark/Iron Man poses numerous challenges for a film maker - Stark is a complicated man with many demons, which do you play up and which do you ignore? Plus, Tony Stark the man wasn't always clearly defined in the comics - which version do you go with? And how do you make the armor work on the big screen without it looking like flying Robocop? Then of course there's the fact with mainstream audiences, Iron Man himself is relatively unknown. How would all this play out?
The first bit of good news fans received was that the film would be directed by Jon Favreau. In a CBR exclusive interview with Favreau from August, 2006, it became clear Favreau took the source material seriously, understanding how best to use current film technology to get the look needed for Iron Man and knowing which story beats from the comics would be necessary for a successful film, deciding to go with an origin story to help educate the public at large on just who Iron Man is.
The casting of Robert Downey Jr. was the next bit of good news fans received and went a long way to allay their fears. In Downey we have an accomplished actor with proven chops, an actor who really throws himself into his roles. Considering he's playing a larger than life character in the billionaire mogul/playboy Tony Stark, those efforts would certainly be called upon. Comic fans were still skeptical, as they often are, choosing to take a "wait and see" attitude.
It was earlier this year during Comic-Con International in San Diego that fans got their first look at footage from the film, which showcased not only Downey as Tony Stark, playing him up as an adventure seeking, cocky and slightly off playboy, but also showed fans for the first time what Iron Man would look like in action. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with footage from the presentation video taped by fans and posted all over video sites like YouTube. The interest was there and the excitement started to grow.
Downey is joined by an all-star cast that includes Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Samuel L. Jackson and Hilary Swank, among others, who're all being guided by Favreau. It's a film that's clearly set-up to be the first of many and with it being Marvel Studios' first self-financed film, a lot is riding on it, but with a cast and production crew like that, we here at CBR News feel the future looks bright for Stark Industries.
While we can't divulge everything we saw and heard during our set visit until later this year, what we can tell you is we saw some very cool stuff, whether it be Tony's expansive garage or plushly appointed Malibu home with an enormous view of the Pacific Ocean. But, what happened on the set with Downey? What did Terrence Howard or Jon Favreau have to say about the production process? And what did Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige have to say about the franchise? Keep your eyes glued to CBR News in the coming months as we answer those questions and more with extensive coverage of "Iron Man," flying into theaters May 2nd, 2008 from Marvel Studios and Paramount Films.