Iron Man, ready for action.
It's official: Iron Man kicks butt. The heavy-metal superhero swooped, soared, and roared throughout cineplexes this weekend as the latest Marvel Comics character to receive the grandiose big-screen treatment. But whereas other super-powered protagonists benefit from genetically enhanced abilities, Iron Man is driven by brain power and advanced technology as weapons manufacturer/playboy Tony Stark transforms his instruments of death into a positive tool for humanity.
When it was first announced that dramatic thespian Robert Downey Jr. and comedy director and actor Jon Favreau would be teaming up on the project, more than a few eyebrows arched in bewilderment and in fact, Favreau had to fight to cast Downey in the lead. But the duo, along with castmates Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, and Leslie Bibb, have created an action-packed flick that rocks the action while tugging a bit at the heartstrings.
Fandango debriefed Downey Jr. and company about filming one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. It turns out that the on-set activity was nearly as frenetic as the movie itself.
Q: How uncomfortable was that Iron Man suit?
Robert Downey Jr.: It was like wearing a gold titanium glove!
Q: Is this Tony Stark faithful to the comic books?
Downey Jr.: Yes. That was super important to us, because Tony Stark faithful to the fans is the best Tony Stark there will ever be. Then you get new people involved, and they go, "We don’t need to look at those comic books. The action sequence with the F-22s ..." I'm like, "Wait! Whoal! Hi guys, really smart people and talented artists spent 45 years on this. Don't you think we can give this 45 minutes? Don't we have to?"
Jon Favreau: There are so many superhero movies that you're walking through the minefield of what's already been done. I think we brought a lot of the attitude, made it a little more rock and roll, West Coast, Robert Downey Jr., as opposed to gothic, brooding, internal. This guy's much more extroverted.
Q: Tony Stark's future battle with alcoholism, the comic's most famous story arc, is foreshadowed when we first see Tony Stark with a drink. Are you going to pursue that story line?
Jon Favreau: I would like to.
Downey Jr.: My idea is that it's Tony’s 40th birthday, and he's drinking way too much, and it's not cool anymore. He thinks he's having fun, and then gets himself in trouble with someone who winds up being a nemesis later on. I think it's better to mythologize something like that because you can actually get more out of it that way. But what do I know?
Q: Robert, is it true you threw the script against the wall a lot?
Downey Jr.: Sometimes the writers wrote stuff that was smart and cool and perfect, and other times I would go to them with ideas. By the time we got to act three I was like, I can't have this confrontation scene with Pepper: "But Pepper, can't you understand that I've changed? I've got to do right!" Unh-uh. We rewrote the scene, and I was scribbling it out on cue cards.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Robert would saunter in with his 88-liter coffee and his sunglasses, take the [pages], and literally ball them up and whip them against the wall and be like, "This is the worst scene I've ever read. We're not doing this." Robert cannot say something that he doesn't feel.
Q: How did the writers react to all that?
Downey Jr.: My thing is we should all feel free to ball each other's junk up and throw it against the wall because we're not here to serve a legal document, if you ask me. I don't care who you are or what you just won or what you just wrote. I don't think "genius" and "superhero script" belong in the same sentence. That said, those guys are awesome, and I really learned a lot.
Q: Speaking of throwing things, Leslie, tell us about punching Robert in your love scene.
Leslie Bibb: Robert said, "Let's make it funny and dark. I think she's dark." I was like, "Me, too." It was all improvised. The first time we did it, I actually ended up smacking him. "Why did I do that? That's weird." He goes, "It's funny, though. Let's do it." The crazy laugh you hear in the movie when we roll off the bed, that's the laugh from when I punched him in the head. When I hit him he just started this crazy cackle, and I was immediately on top of him saying, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry!" We had dinner last night, and he looked at my boyfriend and said, "Your lady hit me so hard. Watch out!"
Q: Terrence, you're known for working on smaller films. What was your take on being in a project so big and out of your hands?
Terrence Howard: Jon called me early on and said that I took the biggest hit in the cutting room. He needed to establish me for the [future] War Machine aspect and my relationship with Tony and the friendship, but he also need to give time to Obadiah and Pepper and the development of the suit. So I said, "You turned me into Robin." He said, "No, I turned you into Robin's little brother."
Q: Jon, how much control did you have over Tony Stark appearing in The Incredible Hulk?
Favreau: That's something he [Robert] did. He asked me, "Should I do it?" I said, "If you want to." All I know is he shot a scene one day in a bar. I wasn't around for it.
Q: What inspired the cameo by Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello as one of the insurgents?
Favreau: I know Tom, and he cameo'd for me in Made. He's a huge Iron Man fan from way back. He was always his favorite superhero, and that made it easier for me to ask him to lay down some guitar tracks for the soundtrack.
Q: His appearance is hilariously ironic.
Favreau: It fits his politics. It's a dream role for him.
Q: What about the rumored "Nick Fury" cameo by Samuel L. Jackson?
Favreau: My big thing is if something's not a surprise, it's not fun. I just want to keep surprising the audience. When the Internet echo chamber makes people so sure and smug about something, it's not always the case.
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