Venkman here with the full and complete transcript on what Jon Favreau had to say about Iron Man and his future in the movies, emailed to us by one of our readers. He goes on to discuss Iron Man 2 and 3. I posted a few notes yesterday from CHUD and Collider that talk about how Favs wants to do the sequel in IMAX and Possibly 3D if the studios are willing.
This interview is a great read and has a ton of information for you. If you liked the first Iron Man film this is a must read. So enjoy it!
Q: At the beginning of the summer, people were excited about Iron Man, but it really hit bigger than almost anyone expected.
Q: Were you surprised? or did you know America needed Tony Stark?
Favreau: I was surprised by everything. I was surprised that the reviews were so strong. Then I was surprised that it made so much money. And then I was surprised that Dark Knight had better reviews (laughter) and it that it made SO much more money (laughter). So it was, on the one hand very, unexpected, serendipitous summer for me and on top of that it was surprising how history had been made by this other movie as well. Oddly, when Dark Knight finally came out, and was received the way it was, it was such a relief for me because I really felt like we went from nobody expected anything to people starting to expect something, to there's this new phenomenon where they report what project based on tracking, what your movie's gonna make, so we could've made 20-30 million dollars less than what we opened to and had been a huge hit but be perceived as a failure because we didn't live up to the expectations based on the people who are reading that data. It wasn't long ago that they'd never even report what the #1 movie was, now the top ten box office is in USA Today. And now it's hitting this point where this real inside baseball tracking and projections and all of these between the HSX and the movie mogul, what's that called, there's another site where you play the game...
Q: The fantasy...
Favreau: The fantasy mogul type sites, they starts, those people with their logs are getting out there and those numbers seep into the mainstream Hollywood websites and has become one big bowlus of information out there that you really can't escape from. So, first it was who the hell cares about Marvel B-level heroes they are marching out when they first announced we were making the movie. To Comic Con where we started building momentum a year later, to this fever pitch, to this point where we were really scared that we were going to disappoint, to the point where we outdid those expectations and then so we're there teetering on the brink and then Dark Knight comes in and makes history. And, all of a sudden the relief of that spotlight, like moving off of us from the guard tower, and now we have two years to lay low and really work on the movie without that type of scrutiny we were feeling right in that white hot moment after we came out.
Q: Why is this period of time that we are living in, the superhero movies are so prolific and beautiful, why do you think all of this is happening?
Favreau: I think 9/11. I think, aptly today we are meeting, but I think it changed, that was a game changer. I think people were looking for emotional simplicity, escapism, and if you look at it, and if you look at it, i mean, there were superhero movies before Spider-man but that first Spider-man hit right in May 2002 when it was the first way that we could get to those emotions because you couldn't say anything about politics, you couldn't say anything about war, people just didn't want to deal with it. But, you put people in a costume and say, ok this is the good guy and this is the bad guy, and you either set it in a fantasy world like Lord of the Rings or in the Marvel Universe and all of a sudden you allow people and kids and adults to experience those emotions in a way where they don't feel like they're, um, you know they are dealing with real emotions in a very escape-ish way and I think that has become more and more complex as we've become more and more comfortable with where we are in the world now whatever it is seven years later and you can have a movie like The Dark Knight where you start to deal with those things. Or, you could show people on a battlefield in Afghanistan like in Iron Man. There's a line you can't cross but that line is moving and I think there's going to be a new, you know, I am glad I was able to hit the crest of this genre and I feel safe because now we have a built in audience, I think we will do well with our sequel, but you wonder how that is going to change because whoever gets voted in you have probably the most extreme contrasting figures that both political parties have to offer to what we are currently experiencing so I think there's going to be an incredible transformation, I don't know what it's going to be, I don't know how the economy is going to effect that, I don't know what the politics are really going to look like but I know a change is coming one way or another and, you know, they say one is change, I think they're both, McCain has always been the guy who was the outsider within that party so I think even if McCain wins you are going to see incredible movement, incredible change within our political system and our culture and so I wonder, as a movie maker, how that is going to effect audiences, what they like and what the attitude is but I don't think it's something that turns on a dime but I think, but then again I am not going to be sitting in front of you for another two years 'til the other movies, Iron Man 2 is coming out and by then the dust will settle a little bit and by then it will be very interesting how to handle that.
Q: How had Marvel's plan to have this integrated movie universe been a game changer for your plans, going from franchise to mega-franchise?
Favreau: It's tough. Because it first starts off as, "Hey, wouldn't it be fun if we stuck a Captain America shield in the background? Wouldn't it be fun if we have Sam Jackson play Nick Fury like in the Ultimate Avengers?" It's like, let's prove ourselves to our fans. And so you do that. Now, between the Captain America shield and Nick Fury, and then the after the credits scene in the last, in the eleventh hour became the final scene of the Hulk, that one was a big one for me, I was like, "Wow, we are forming a team, you are going to that guy and you're forming a team." That's not, it's clearly not the day after Iron Man ended. You know, where does it fit in the time continuum, and I don't want to just ignore it or do as the comic books have done, like Marvel, oh, it's an alternate universe (laughter) but you know, they've gotten away with that one for a couple of decades but how do you make it all work within that world? Because I think it is fun and I think Hulk was successful in keeping a tone that did not seem inconsistent with our film and certainly with Robert being in there. But, we definitely have a lot of things, hey, I come out of improv and in improv you say, "give me a suggestion of a place, give me a line of dialog," well here it's like, "give me three scenes that I have to incorporate into my next movie." And so, it is a challenge but it's a challenge that is, it's refreshing that I don't go back and it's a studio executive who could care less saying, "I don't give a shit, make whatever tests best." In this case, you have Kevin Feige who's like, "how are going to solve this puzzle?" It's like a Rubik's cube to them as well. And just all that brain power addressing something, it makes you come up with interesting solutions so we have a pretty good game plan and then there's conversations I've been having with them about the Avengers too. Cause remember for Avengers, you're not just dealing with tech, you're dealing with inter dimensional portals and all the shit that makes you jump the shark if you don't handle it right so you know, we were very restrained with how we used our superhero-ism in our movie and we did that by keeping it all tech based. And then Hulk went a little bit, it's still kind of tech based, you get into Cap and it's like, "I was frozen..." ok, maybe I can buy that with the super soldier thing and then you get into Thor and it's like, ok, what are we gonna do? How do you make that all feel of the same world as our movie does? And that's going to be the challenge moving forward, I think.
Q: You sort of skirted around that with Iron Man because you had talked about how you originally wanted the Mandarin. He's not in the film but the ten rings are obviously a reference to the Mandarin so you sort of have that in that you could open the fantastical stuff if you wanted to follow that.
Favreau: It is, the Mandarin is such a tricky character for us. Because everywhere you turn it's a minefield. Ok, so we get into the mystical Asian dark arts and inter dimensional travel and all the rings that do different things and the psychic abilities and stuff and that could be cool, maybe it's cool if we really make it authentic and then we see the trailer for the Mummy movie (laughter). It's like, they've got the Mandarin and Fing Fang Foom in there (laughter). And they shot it in China and it's authentic as it's ever gonna get and it's like, hmm, I don't know if that fits our film. It's great for the Mummy but, so, where do you go with it? Do you make...what are your rules and how do you stay consistent with them? Because that's what happens, people get desperate as they are looking for inspiration to up the ante and so you start breaking your own rules. And that's when the movies start to lose their identity.
Q: People said the other night, when you did the commentary, that you had hinted that the Mandarin could possibly be in the third film.
Favreau: Yeah, the Mandarin is still the guy. He's the main guy. But we always remind ourselves - nobody likes the Emperor compared to Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies. And he's got the same lightening bolts and the same...but when the Emperor was just this figure you saw obliquely it was like, "Shit! Darth Vader is bowing to someone?! That guy must be really cool." And so, but then as he talked more it was like, ok enough and in like the Clone Wars cartoons he's like a sidekick so it's really just how you treat the person and that's what informs what it is. So, the Mandarin, to have that sort of weight to him it's really a matter of using all the narrative tricks to do it. But a dude jumping around in robes with shooting these beams and rays that have powers that really, if you take them literally, would throw off the balance of the whole universe. So, how do you do it? How do you keep the whole thing together but yet fulfill the expectations from the book. So, we do have him and I think it's something that a little bit goes a long way. And, so, there's a lot of other characters and a lot of other countries that have become very interesting lately (laughter) that fit very well into our universe. So, you know, the Iron Man cannon is becoming incredibly cogent and applicable once again.
Q: How the writing coming along?
Favreau: The writing is coming along quite well. We've got Justin Theroux working on it who Downey knows, he really echoes Downey, his tastes, a lot. They worked together on Tropic Thunder, he's an actor, so I come at writing the same way he does. He brings a real sense of fun. He has never worked in this genre before so he has that great newcomer's enthusiasm that I think we still share and then it's about, ok, here are the books, here's what we got, here's the story. And so we are breaking story and pages are coming our but it's really more of a conversation than actual writing. The pages come but the pages are never really what they are going to be in the movie, up until the day you're shooting, even on ours.
Q: Can you say what comic books you are looking at?
Favreau: No, we are making our own, but I can tell you which ones we are looking at very closely, not so much for story but for tone and the way it's been executed is the Matt Fraction stuff, because I think these, I haven't talked to him yet but we want to talk to him and get him out here and get Adi [Granov] out here and get some of the defining minds from the books, but the Fraction series seems to informed as much by our movie as it is by what had happened with Iron Man before. So, it's very curious combination and, you know, look, I'm dabbling writing the Viva Las Vegas books, and it's fun and I read what he does and it's like, "Wow, this guy's really treating it like with the seriousness that you would a movie or a book." And for me, it's like, all the stuff I can't do in the movie, it's fun to write the books and see what Adi comes up with drawing, but there's a different approach, the Fraction series is informed by current events and what's going on in the world, I am very impressed by what he has written.
Q: There's two major parts of the Iron Man mythology. The Demon in a Bottle storyline and being replaced at some point by Rhodey, did you have to look at that and say, ok, do we want to cram everything into one, or save one for another movie...
Favreau: We are very much looking into that...Yeah, you can't, there's always the sense of saying, "let's save something for another movie," but I think there's a way to weight into it and if it's done right you are not going to have to turn on a dime. I know, in Spider-man they seem to be dealing with different issues in each film, they are very modular. Ours, we wanted to stretch it out, more like telling three chapters of the same story. There was a sense, I know they shot Lord of the Rings and re-shot and did things, but there was still a sense that there was an underlying movement of Aragorn to becoming King. But you watch the first movie or read the first book and it's like, "who is this mysterious guy? This Han Solo-type character." You're like great! And as you add more detail to it he becomes a little less interesting for me but yet still consistent in the story and then you see, you feel like you are being taken on a journey and I know from watching, I really like long-form storytelling, I love television. I mean, not all television, but I really love certain TV shows and the ones that I like, I really, really like, even more than movies. Because you are able to tell stories, it's not like a haiku poem where you're just telling a story in an hour and a half. You have a long time and I really liked Heroes, the first season of Heroes, and I'll watch the thing back to back, I'll just get a box set or download it and just watch the whole deal. I really looked forward to it and it shows you that, I remember, like Twin Peaks and to some extent there where times in Lost where I really felt a little lost, I was like, "where is this going? Do they know where it's going?" And it's very compelling but there's something, and part of that show is the mystery of that Twilight Zone type thing and it does circle back around and it rose to the challenge eventually. But in the beginning, it felt like I didn't know if they knew where they were going, and certainly Twin Peaks was like that, Twin Peaks was very much like, everybody loved it until they realized, "wait a minute." (laughter) "You're just making this up as you go along, I know more about this than you do!" Then you see a show like Heroes where it all comes together at the end it feels like you've been rewarded for paying attention this whole time through. I think the cable shows have that sense, whether it's Sopranos or Weeks or even Californication, there's a sense of using a much larger thing and you have very smart audiences who have a tremendous capacity to remember things and have complex storytelling and you see it more in TV series and in video games now. Movies are kind of what they are. It's like a rock and roll song, you've got your thing, your bridge and your end and you gotta fit that format. It's very populist and it's very accessible to everybody. How do you keep making rock and roll songs and do, whatever, "The White Album?" How do you put it all together with other movies and make it something that's a larger experience for people who are paying attention and yet not so complex that if you're not paying attention you're going to not have fun. I found myself in a lot of the sequels, not this last year, but the year before, of movies that I really liked and having not gone back to watch the other ones and being a little bit lost as to what was going on. I'm a movie maker and I'm pretty smart audience member and I just don't have that attention span in that, but I want to figure out if I can maybe get a better version of that going while still upping the ante with how much you're putting on the screen and the humor and the dialog and living up to everything that people would come to expect from the last movie we made.
Q: One of the interesting things with the first Iron Man is that you end with this brawl, these two guys are punching each other with cars or whatever but it is a very street level one guy on one guy brawl, are you looking, in the sequel, to transcend that and go bigger?
Favreau: I am. I mean, a lot of that was, truth be told, came from the fact that we were being very ambitious as far as what we were going to accomplish with the amount of money that we had. So we went forward with the plan of, "Let's shoot as much practically as we can," which I'm on-board for because I like that and with the Stan Winston suit and the way that it was designed, let's see what we can accomplish with it. Well, the Mark I we got a lot accomplished with. I'd say that ninety percent of what you see in there is the suit with a little bit of wire removal or removing the hoses for the flames, but a lot of that was practical. Certainly it was just augmentation. By the time that you got to the Mark II, you were doing a lot of flying and we hand it off even more and the suit that they built was a great reference for ILM, but then when we got into the stuff with him fighting with the real suit it just looked terrible. It looked like the Power Rangers (laughter). There was always the money for the real suit to be replaced. They always had it to the side and we finished on time and on budget so we had money left over to do that and the problem is that even though you're using a CG suit the plates and the action are still based on what someone was going to do on the ground. So it's a sort of mixed blessing on. On the one hand it's a bummer because we would've liked to have more of the flying, and we did add one sequence where they went up into space, but it just sort of, really didn't sing as well as it could have had we planned originally to have it that way. But the good news is that it was successful, people liked it because of the characters and the emotion and ultimately what the whole of the film was and it left us a lot of room to improve upon it for the next time around and that's another big challenge, how do you out do yourself? Because, when you go to here, then you gotta go further and then you're going to just start losing your personality. So it's nice to have succeeded with very, you know, humble beginnings as far as the action goes. Now I know I've learned a lot more. The last thing that we shot, the re-shoots were, the sequence that used to be second unit but then we went out there with a unit and shot it, the part where the hostages are being taken and the guns came out of the shoulders. I think we found the personality in the sense of humor of the action. I found a way to be smart and clever about that I think. And that was always my problem, when you cut to the action it was like, "Okay, now have them hit each other." In every movie you look at, even the good ones, it's tough to get away from that whether it's the new Batman, which is sort of the gold standard. But if you look at it it's still just people fighting. It's just people going at it and you have to do a good of it and have it coordinated well, all the way down to Blade and which also I think the action is very inspired in but even the movies like the Fantastic Four movies, it's basically the same thing, they punch each other they fall of the thing they fall into the garbage truck, and you got, if you remove it then it's not a superhero movie anymore because there are people who will go to see that and that's what's going to make people go see your trailer and that's what's going to make you open enough to have the budget that you need to do it right.
Q: One of the secrets to the success of Iron Man was the casting of Robert Downey Jr., how much collaboration are you going to be doing with him in developing the sequels?
Favreau: He's been...I was at his house yesterday. I was at his house yesterday and he's getting ready to go do Sherlock Holmes, he's leaving Sunday. He went to Japan briefly to promote this movie there, Iron Man, but, you know, clearly we met Justin through him. He really thought the world of him from that process and there was a lot of writing going on on the set there too. And, there are things, "What do you want to play, Robert? What should we do? How could we..." Cause Robert was very collaborative on the set of writing and making it, and all the choices. Part of my gig is to not just ask him to stand on his mark, but learn to bring enough of his reality into it that it seems interesting and has more dimension. So he's been very involved and his star has only risen and his leverage is only greater, and now he's not the guy who's, "Please let me screen test," now he's the guy who's like, being offered every movie in town.
Q: Going back to what you said earlier, whether they are big actors when they come into the property, looking down the line at all these movies and thinking about ways of how to incorporate them even into a possible Avengers film, are you logistically concerned with that you have huge stars and huge characters and are you concerned that that would ever get in the way if they were to all appear in one film or start sharing screen time or storytelling?
Favreau: That's sort of the danger isn't it? Forget about creatively, just from a perspective of finances, but somehow they made Ocean's 11, so there are clearly business models and I think that it has more to do if people are enthusiastic and feel like they're going to be in a movie that they'll be proud of. The truth is that most stars of that level would love to be in a movie where they're not every day on the call sheet and they're not the only one carrying the burden for the press junket. For me, I get a kick out of this, I like it, but Robert, now that he's working his ass off because of his success, we just got finished going around the world for three weeks and it was to me, it's like, very difficult but when it's a novelty you just won a game show, it's like that's what they would give away on the Price is Right (laughter). World Tour, you will fly on private jets with movie stars and meet the main people in every country and eat at the best restaurants and have security details with you in Mexico and be taken to a private tour of the Colosseum in the half an hour you have off between that and going to the premiere on the red carpet of the thing and just cameras going off in your face everywhere and everybody, like, giving you shit and then when I walk away from Gwyneth and Robert, they chase Gwyneth and Robert and I get to be with my wife in the hotel room with the robe (laughter). So, it's really quite wonderful but it just drains everything out of you and then, you know, I'm good for two years and I'll do it again, you know, it'll be fun and maybe it'll get boring at some point, it's not yet, especially since I don't like to fly so it's really not boring, its very exciting, it's like going to Six Flags for two weeks for me. But Robert, gets off it and then boom, now he's promoting Tropic Thunder and then he's shooting Sherlock Holmes and he'll be promoting something else and it's like, Cameron Diaz said, "they don't pay me to do the movies, they pay me to do the press junkets." And so, it's very difficult on the guy. And the worst part is everybody is going so far out of their way for you and anybody else would jump at this and it seems like heaven, and here you are feeling drained and complaining about something anybody else would give their pinky for, so you don't feel justified in your frustration with it. And then you really feel like you've completely, there's no sympathy for you whatsoever so you feel very lonely.
Q: Speaking of frustration, you are coming back for 2 in two years and I am assuming that you're planning to come back for 3, you're gonna have maybe a decade in Tony Stark's world. As a filmmaker, is there a thing, like, maybe I could slip one more in there just for my own thing, or are you ready to do the two years?
Favreau: It's one day at a time. And here's the funny thing that happens, you, well, this next one is going to be good because this next one is like, okay, now I can really, creatively I've got a lot of room. They'll pay me well if it does well. I know everybody and everybody can't wait to see it. On top of that, as a fan of these types of films, not necessarily the genre completely I mean it's very hit or miss for me, but I'm definitely part of the audience, if it's good I'm there. But I'm not going to go just because it's this, but I notice a pattern where the second one, the sequels are usually better than the first ones because you know the origin story, you have that, and it's been proven again with Dark Knight right? You got X-Men 2, Spider-Man 2, Dark Knight, when you get into threes it gets weird. It's real hit or miss and four as well, you know, it's even harder, so how do you avoid the mistakes of others? But I don't really have to go there yet. I'm like, "Now is the time when I know who this guy is. They trust me as a director, the studio needs this and they're just as excited about this as I am and everyone is waiting to see what we do next," like when I was a guest, I was Eric the clown on Seinfeld, there was a feeling on that set that you could do anything and say anything and everybody was waiting to see what would happen next. And I was like, I got to be, I got to live a week in that world and it was just, you felt like you were a part of this cultural phenomenon. Well, here we are. Swingers was fun, but it came and went. Elf was fun, it came and went. And if you did sequels to either of those, it would feel like you were double dipping and it would get worse. But, this type of franchise, it can get better because it's meant to be a franchise so it never feels like you're chasing it. So at this point we're good. Now, as far as three goes it becomes harder because you're scared then they start offering you a lot of dough (laughter) because the truth is, every job I get, I feel like I have more dough than I ever thought I would have. So it's not like I don't have enough and I'm not competitive in the way, "I want a plane like him, or I want that." My thing is, I'm scared, I want to make sure my family stays together, I don't want to miss a half a year of my kid's life. I want to enjoy every moment, I don't want to hit the traps that these people around me are hitting and that becomes a challenge because there's, you want to do all this stuff, you want to go away and do this, there's temptation in every aspect of the world all around you, but for the most part, they suck you through the thing that you are most inclined to do, which is, you want to do this for a living. You lived on a futon and ate Ramen noodles for years just so you could have these opportunities and then you are going to say no to them? But if you say yes, then you could lose something else you've really grown to appreciate too which is your life and the people around you that you love and your kids and half the people lose that in chasing their career. And there's no real people to look at to show you how to handle that right. So for the third one you're asking yourself, "Okay, what are they asking of me? What is there left to say? What am I doing this for?" Then there's a lot of pressure on you to do it. I think that it only continues as it goes on. What's nice about this is with The Avengers, you have other characters coming in and out and that's going to change the dynamic of it too and I think there also would be more of a sense of fun at that point in doing it because you get more playful with the whole thing. But to answer your question, I would love to work for ten years on one successful LA based franchise with people that I really like and connect with, telling stories that I think have some social and emotional resonance but that aren't so heavy handed that it's not just about fun and I get to play with all the toys and the new CG and building sets and costumes and all the stuff that I love reading about in Starlog I get to do in the meetings so, and I don't think it's by accident that I ended up here. I worked hard and I always knew that this is something that I would love to be. This is the perfect situation right now.
Q: Give us an update on how you and Governor Schwarzenegger were working on keeping the production here in California.
Favreau: It's very difficult because Arnold, as you know, was an actor and would shoot in LA and he would, he deferred some of his upfront pay on the last Terminator film that he was in to keep the production here so I always felt that he was the guy committed to the same things I was. I have in my contract now, I won't shoot outside of LA. On Elf, I had wanted to shoot here, but never put it in writing, and a couple weeks before we started they said you have to, before we green light this, if you want the green light you have to move to Canada. And I missed six months of my kids' life and it was really depressing and I love the movie but the experience of making it was very lonely and you come back and you wonder if you still have your family, it's very debilitating unless you have someone that travels with you and then it's very hard on them and they can't have a career and your kids can't go to school with continuity. And I don't want to selfishly put them through that just so I can see them for the half hour that I a actually awake and at home during the working day when you are directing. And so, it's like, I'm in a position now, where I am using my leverage to be able to shoot at home and there are a few directors that do, I know JJ does it and Spielberg does it for the most part. We might shoot location, but you base it out of here. So when the Governor was reelected I went down there because I'd always thought he would push through that legislation, nothing had happened, and I went down there and didn't know anybody, shook his hand, talked to his people and said, "hey I want to get involved, what can I do to help?" Well, we tried to already, it got shut down, nobody wants to give a tax break for movies, they see it as you are kicking back money to these rich studios when there's other places the money could go. And I'm like, the studios are getting the money, it's not me, the directors the actors are still getting the money, it's the people who are working in town that don't, the people who open up the sandwich shop. The dry cleaners. 40 films I think are shooting in Michigan, where'd they come from? They came from here. So, it seems very short sighted because say you knock down the taxes a couple points, that might make the difference with travel and per diem and all that to keep Ugly Betty from moving to New York where they are giving a 35% break because the real savings might only be a few points but you have to pay a lot more money to go there and it's a lot easier. When the movies are going to New York, it's like, this is getting ridiculous. When we were shooting Elf, it was more expensive to shoot there than it was to shoot here. And in Canada it was cheaper yet. Well, now with the weak dollar, it makes sense to shoot in the States but we're losing business to other states. And I'm all for, I applaud them for having tax breaks in the other states, I just selfishly moved to Hollywood because this was a dream and you've got the best people in the world, the biggest talent pool and you've got great studios, great facilities, vendors and it's all built around here. To me it's like Flint, Michigan. There was a boom town and they never thought it could end and it did. Unfortunately it was because the economy was bad and outsourcing, here the movie business has never been better and we're not moving to other countries, we are moving to other states, so it just seems very short sighted. And I've been talking to the Governor, he's been trying to get this budget passed, so I don't think politically it's a big state, it used to be the fifth largest economy in the world I think it's like the ninth now. You can't get a government that big to all agree on cutting taxes for Southern California because they'll see it as giving in. Right now they're trying to pass the budget so I don't think it's going to happen any time soon but regardless of whether it is or not, I refuse to make a movie if it's not here and if I ever get to the point where I can't make movies here I'll make television shows here and if not, I'll live off my 401k (laughter)
Q: We were at the Stan Winston Studios yesterday, and I know there was talk of War Machine in the next one, is that still the case?
Favreau: I want to do it. We're drawing War Machine. We're figuring it out. We're talking to Terrence [Howard]. We're seeing if he can take some time out of his new life as a musician to be War Machine, to be War Machine. I think that Terrence and the character of Rhodey was smaller in the first movie than we had anticipated, but that's how it worked for the movie. That's how it worked best for the story, the best way to tell that story of the origin, spending half of the movie in the cave. But it does set the table very well for this character. War Machine is fun and, again, you look for ways to up the ante. It's tough to up the ante on the villain side without going into strange territories, but what we can do is really have a lot of fun with our family, our main characters and that includes myself. I expect to have more to do in this one or I will walk (laughter). We certainly have Rhodey and Gwyneth, really, it's the best work I've seen her do, for me, for my tastes. I know she's won Oscars and stuff and she's a good actress, but for me I thought that she had great chemistry with Robert. Of course we'll see more of Robert and then we'll see how that basic group of four people moves forward towards the inevitable Avengers that's coming, and how The Mandarin, how largely he looms in this next one. These are the types of things that we're doing, but mostly from a perspective of tone. Mostly from a perspective of, it's like sitting around and making a mixed tape, remember those? (laughter) I guess it's playlists now. You'd make a mixed tape for your friend and you'd sit there and go, "oh, this song and this song will get the party going." I've gotten into DJing, I just DJ'd Robert's son's party and I like all the old rap music and all the things I wish I could DJ when I was younger and now I get to. You know, people get Porsche's, I got turntables, that's my mid-life crisis (laughter).
Q: Were you totally satisfied with the performance of the suit and should be expect more groundbreaking research etc.?
Favreau: I don't want to make it too complicated with the plot. I don't want to ask people to follow something I wouldn't be able to follow. And so, there's certain emotional complexity we are going to find with the characters but not plot complexity because I don't want people to have to do their homework to see the movie. I want to you to go in and say, "Oh, ok, I kind of remember who he was, who that was, who that was." I am going to bring you up to speed in the movie and tell a fun story. But you do need to add complexity. So where I want to add complexity is emotionally, so far as the tech goes, so far as the look goes, up the ante in smart ways that you may notice or you may not. If you are a fan you're gonna see that the suit has changed more, that the HUD has changed. That he's making breakthroughs in innovations. What has happened since he said, "I am Iron Man." What does that really mean? That another thing that was really good on the day, Kevin Feige was like, "We've never done it before that would be great!" I was like, "I don't know if it would be good." We do it, everybody loves it, it's like ok, what's the next movie now? But I like it because it further defines us away from Batman which is, they've got their end of the playground and they can have it, I don't want to, it's like a prison yard, you get the monkey bars, I'll hang out by the toilets. (laughter) And as long as you steer clear of each other there's enough room for everybody. The last thing I want to do is run and try to punch the biggest guy in the nose when I get locked up. That's not how it works. You steer clear, you let them do their thing and you do your thing. I am a fan of their work, I don't know how they feel about Iron Man but I feel they really broke a lot of ground with Dark Knight that the use of IMAX was mind blowing. I was sitting next to James Cameron actually at the screening. And we were sitting there before the things starts and we were like, "I guess they letterbox the thing for the IMAX, what's it like 16:9 but just big," and then the first shot comes on of the helicopter shot of the city and it's the entire wall and me and him were like, "WOW!"
Q: You really reached out to the fans on this film, but at the same time there was a lot of stuff that leaked that you didn't want out there. How are you going to deal with that this time around?
Favreau: We're not. I think that it worked out. You don't care if someone leaks something or if someone knows something. You care about whether it hurts the movie. So, Marvel knows that if you're getting to the point where something is probably going to get leaked soon you release a photo and steal the thunder. Get a good well lit shot as opposed to some cell phone shot that someone else will take. You don't want to ruin the nature of it. Transformers was incredibly successful, but if you remember early on there were photos that leaked out and it was like, "What's this? That's what the movie looks like?" So you have to learn how to deal with the rhythms of the Internet, but I'll take it any day over people not caring and that's what drove us. That Comic-Con bootleg video was the first thing that anyone saw and it was really fun. It was like they couldn't quite make it out and they were trying like hell to get it down. It just took them a while. I was like, "Why are you even trying? It's a good thing." They were like, "No, no. We have to take it down." I said, "Okay, we'll put up a clean version." Then eventually they put up a clean version on the Apple site, but it wasn't nearly as fun as when you heard the crowd over the cell phone. So I know kind of what it is. I don't get disappointed and frustrated. It's just the nature of things. I'm not worried about the fans. It's just a huge water cooler that everyone is talking around and with all this stuff like Twitter and everyone with their little blogs and their conversations in real time, people knew about "Iron Man" before that panel was out at Comic-Con because people were there on their laptops. So that's incredible. That's grass roots. That's mobilizing. It's like what's happening to the political system. It's here to stay. Embrace and don't be scared and frustrated about it and try to stop it. It's like trying to stop the tide. I think that I'm one of the few guys out there that really gets it. I mean, Zack [Snyder] does too, he's clearly he's getting something going with 300 and Watchmen and that dialog, but you can't just hide and say that you're not going to do press if you're a director, not for this kind of movie. You're one of the guys. You're one of the stars. You have to be out there and you have to be promoting it and you should be happy that people are curious to ask you this kind of stuff. Fortunately I come from a background where I did have to promote things as an actor so it doesn't freak me out, I actually like it and I like to be able to speak about something that I'm actually having something to do with making and not just a character I'm playing and talking about the shit that I kept in my pocket when I performed for my acting motivation or how many times I spray tanned.
Q: I wanted to know more about the success of the film. You obviously had a 140, 150 budget on the first one, how has Marvel, how had the budget possibly changed and how is the writing process for some of the action scenes, and I have one more, you mentioned Dark Knight playing on one side of the playground and you on the other side but it was just jaw dropping on IMAX. As a filmmaker are you even thinking, "shit, we might want to do that to?"
Favreau: I would love to do some IMAX stuff. I think that's going to be a game-changer. I would love to do some of it on IMAX for IMAX. It's all a matter of dollars and cents for them. I would also love to do 3-D.
Q: For this one?
Favreau: For this one. I would love to do 3-D because just think of the HUD. Just think of that virtual space and what that would be like, the layers and what you could get away with and how much fun it could be. It also drives people to see it in the theater and makes it that much more of an experience. But it all comes down to how much does it cost and what do they get for it? My leverage only goes so far with technical issues like that. That being said, so far as the budget goes, Fox's way of doing it has always been - keep the budget the same, the above the line gets bigger and bigger because you gotta entice those people to come back so you squeeze out what movie is and I think if you look at the sequels to Fox superhero movies you see that, a trained eye can see that they're more cost conscious as the series goes on (laughter). The other end of the spectrum was the Spider-man series where, and I've not read any reports of the budget of the third Spider-man film that, or are in line with what my understanding is that it was, in other words they are trying to hide how much money they are spending because it can become such a sinkhole. Fortunately that was an incredibly profitable film and it made sense and made money and now they want to do 2 more. I'm not saying they don't know what they are doing, both companies clearly know how to make money, but they are two different approaches and I think they both have their shortcomings. Ideally we'd love to find a way where you have, clearly it costs you more money to keep everybody in as well it should, if there is success you should reward the people that have helped you get that success, and if there are vendors and people you are going to to work you should ideally, they shouldn't have to prove themselves over and over again and everybody should get a fair price for their work. And if there are new people that want to come on and you're taking a chance you pay them accordingly. But the bottom line is, for the people going to the theaters, you have to reward them with something better, or at least try to make something better than you did the last time around. It's very hard to do that with less money. The question is, do you just let it go out of control? I don't know, I think you hit a point of diminishing return and certainly as a filmmaker I don't like working with restraints. And it should be greater efficiency because we know how to do it, we double paid for certain things, we shot things in the suit and then we did it in CG, there's no reason to do both and hopefully I can avoid that in the future. But by the same token this is Tony Stark's world, this is like James Bond. It's got to feel big and he's gotta feel rich and he's gotta feel real. So that costs money. Then the action has to be more than what we had last time. So, Marvel has said to me that they're certainly not going to try to save money on this one, they're not going down the Fox road on this and that's encouraging. How far are they going to go with it? I think that becomes, look if I was running the show I wouldn't say they're clearly an amount of money that they have in mind that they talk about amongst themselves and the good news is that they're not hitting me with a budget. What they're saying is, "Lets get the best script that we can and lets look at it." But everybody knows they're going to make another one of these and so it becomes more of a conversation as opposed to most films where it's like, "You're not going to get your green light if you don't do this." They clearly want to do it with me and with Robert and for 2010. So it's a new experience. I haven't gone through it before, but it worked out well the last time, which was probably a lot more challenging in success than what this time will be, especially when you see that we made over $300 million, which doesn't seem to be an anomaly, Dark Knight made $500 million. So there's clearly an audience for this type of movie and I think that makes them comfortable, and I think the real winner is the fans. So in supporting these movies the fan has ensured that you're going to have another crop of well-made sequels.
Q: Any ideas for cameos like the SHIELD?
Favreau: We're gonna do some fun stuff, I can't say, my god we have two years, you'll figure it all out. We barely, we ran out the clock the last time, you know, we released it without the - all the preview screenings didn't have the SHIELD scene and people were like, "man, I know it's there! I don't believe it, they are doing something!" They were so sure that even with doing that, they were like, "they're doing something funny, cause I know for sure it's in there." They stuck it at the end of the movie which was weird, it was right at the last minute that they did that.