In a recent interview on stand-up comedian Marc Maron's WTF podcast, director Jon Favreau looks back at his life, how his career got started and the films he's made. It's really a great listen, and I suggest you check it out, especially if you're a fan of Favreau and his work. There's a lot of great details revealed about his life, like how he wanted to become a fireman at one point, how he and Vince Vaughn became friends, how he put Swingers together, and a lot more great info. He also talked about the success of Iron Man and why Cowboys & Aliens wasn't as successful. I thought Cowboys & Aliens was a very fun film, but for some reason it didn't connect with audiences.
When talking about Swingers, the director explains how success can be difficult to handle, and how the pressure of following up that success can cause a person to develop feelings of failure before they even do anything else. The conversation turned to Cowboys & Aliens around this point and he said,
Cowboys & Aliens, it didn't bomb but it was definitely a 'pillow party'. You always feel this way about the latest project you've done but I feel like it's the most evolved work I've done. Plus, the experience of working with Spielberg, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, 'Kurtzman and Orci' and Damon Lindelof and then Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, it was one of those things where when you achieve a certain amount of success, you're the expert. You're going to decide and give these platitudes of 'if it bends its funny.'... I learned the lesson that you can make the best Bacon Sundae in the world but if people don't want to eat that flavor of ice cream...and the name was misleading. With so many [actors] associated with it, it was seen as the big dog and we felt we were underdogs with how obscure the material was...The name that was so interesting made everyone think it was going to be a comedy and maybe it would've been better served with a different vision... It's always a trick of 'how can you get the big summer movie, with the big budget, where you can play with all the toys yet do something interesting with it. With Iron Man I had been spoiled because it worked out. [Looking at Iron Man] part of me felt that it was going to bomb and part of me felt like this is going to be the best movie in the world.
He then went on to talk about the success of Iron Man saying that the biggest contribution he made to the film was fighting for Robert Downey Jr. to play Tony Stark.
The stroke of brilliance with Iron Man was [Robert] Downey. It's not that it was him, it was that it was him at that moment, having paid his dues and having a spiritual redemption...He came out of the other end of the tunnel glowing, there was a radiance to him. I knew that if I could get him then every decision for the movie would be obvious. My biggest contribution was the knife fight to get him [as] the star. Letting someone do it for themselves is the most gratifying feeling of connection.
I love the work Favreau has done, I've been a fan of his since Swingers. It's been fun following his career, and I can't wait to see where he goes next!