Full Iron Man Debriefing from Comic-Con
by Alex Billington
August 2, 2007
You may have heard me say it before, maybe not, but I'm looking forward to Iron Man more than any other comic book movie coming in 2008 (except maybe The Dark Knight). At this year's San Diego Comic-Con last Saturday, Marvel hosted a panel for two of their major films, one being The Incredible Hulk (which we provided updates for already) and Iron Man. Now it's time to hone down and focus on all things Iron Man, including details discussed by director Jon Favreau and star Robert Downey Jr as well as the footage shown and much more.
First things first - the footage! With the film hitting theaters on May 2nd, 2008, it's good to see that there is a fine selection of footage that Favreau can already show off. The "extended trailer" is available online in bootlegged format in a few places, but I won't provide the links. I will say that out of everything I saw at Comic-Con, this was the most exciting footage I saw. It spent about 3/4 of the time focusing on his origin story and building his first Mark I armor (which you can see a photo of below), and a very brief shot at the end of Iron Man is his beautiful red and gold armor flying with some fighter jets.
Although the action was good, there wasn't anything specifically that stood out as something that will be incredible, but that's what I love about it. It's only the start, and seeing what they showed means there is plenty more action and intensity that we'll see in the final film. Favreau mentioned that the footage, minus the flying at the end, was entirely practical effects and hand-built live-action suits, no CGI. They've built nearly everything from scratch in the movie and minus the full CGI shots, most of the movie is based around these practical special effects.
And of course it was great to hear Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" song in the trailer quite a few times, although Favreau said it hasn't specifically been signed for the film yet.
In terms of the budget and Jon Favreau's directing style, Terrence Howard, who plays Jim Rhodes, mentioned in press interviews after the panel that there are scenes that cost $10 million dollars each, where he's previously worked on movies that cost less than that to make in their entirety. Is this a bad thing? Not at all, considering that all of the actors individually commented on how Favreau is filming this like it is a low-budget independent film.
Given Marvel's new production studio is the one financing and producing the film and not a big Hollywood studio (Paramount is simply distributing it, not producing it), the process of working on the film is much different. Favreau comments on this stating:
"...It's not like you have to contact a studio to get approval on everything. So it's a lot like the movies I've worked on in the past. I think there's something incredible to be discovered in the moment, especially when you have actors like Robert and Terrence, who understand it and have been around and see themselves as shepherds of their roles. They often know more about their character than the filmmaker does, because that's the kind of actor I hired."
After hearing director Jon Favreau talk at length both at the panel and afterwards in press interviews, I'm fully confident that he was the right choice to take on this film. You can read full interviews with him at CHUD.com, however one of my favorite quotes from Favreau is how he connects this film with some elements from James Bond.
"...This last Bond was very gritty and the movie was showing that James Bond could be harsh and in your face, and they had to reinvent the franchise and I think they did a great job. The Bond we were gravitating towards is in the way that he's the American Bond. He's got gadgets, he's got great cars, he's got a certain flair and style and there's a certain confidence that he has in the way he goes about moving through the story. And I think Iron Man has had that quality too in the book and we wanted to preserve that. But you never want the humor to be at the expense of the reality of the movie, and in Bond while you always got the sense that the bomb was never going to go off and he was going to end up sleeping with the villain, you knew there were some real life stakes and you want to walk that line to make it fun, but also make it real."
In terms of Robert Downey Jr, I've said it before and I'll say it again - he IS Tony Stark. When questioned by a fan at the panel whether he read the original comic books, Downey Jr said that he "didn't have any fear about filling this character's shoes" and that he just posted up at the production office and "sponged up as much as [he] could."
Also revealed at Comic-Con was an exclusive shirt handed out to the fans (you can see Favreau wearing it in the photo above) as well as a new teaser poster (which you can see here). At the Marvel booth on the show floor, the fully built Mark I armor suit was on display (and you can see a photo below) as well as other banners spotted around their booth. It was an exciting time for Iron Man at Comic-Con 2007 and I will certainly say I came away more excited for this than any other movie in 2008.
As always, stay tuned here at FS.net for much more in the world of Iron Man as we slowly work our way towards May of 2008. We'll be following this closely and be preparing you for one of the most exciting comic book movies hitting next summer.