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Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. talk Iron Man 1, 2 and 3, The Avengers, Cowboys and Aliens and more at the Hero Complex Fest!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here playing some catch-up with The Hero Complex Festival coverage. I’m going to double back to Star Trek and Superman shortly, but I have to talk about the big events of tonight’s screening of Iron Man 1 and 2.

I didn’t really have a new opinion of either film and both are so recent that you’ll forgive me if I don’t dive into a big review of the Iron Man series so far. Iron Man 1 is still the best Marvel film, hands down… it has a charm, pace, wow-factor and overall fun feeling that feels effortless. The second film doesn’t feel as effortless, unfortunately, but I found a lot of my nitpicks about the movie move back into my mind while watching. It’s an easy flick to watch and only starts falling apart for me when I think about it. But damnit, I like Downey as Tony Stark too much to completely write it off.

Now, Jon Favreau was announced as being there for a Q&A, but as is usual with Favreau there was some trickery. About 8 minutes into the Q&A Favreau and Geoff Boucher begin talking about Downey and just how much he brought to the role. Favreau trails off and says why not give Downey a call? He’s filming The Avengers in New Mexico.

I think the idea was for Downey’s phone to go off in the crowd, but the signal in the theater was weak, so after a few moments of Favreau trying to call through, Downey calls out from the theater entrance, “Why call me? I’m already here!” to much cheering, of course.

Their chat covers some great stuff, including some stuff on The Avengers (Downey was sporting his Tony Stark goatee as you’ll see in the pics below), Iron Man 3, Magic Kingdom and some funny stuff about the making of Iron Man 1 and 2. I’ve highlighted my favorite bits from the talk and included them below! Enjoy!



- Important Avengers news from Robert Downey Jr.: Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige is driving a brand new Jaguar. It’s in the shop because it has a scratch on it.

- “Going into The Avengers and Iron Man 3, what I keep coming back to is (Stark) is someone who grew up with this wonder of science and what it could do. As interests change, I think it’s really important that Tony’s interest is redirected to what saved his ass to begin with; is that he’s someone who is a tinkerer and he just happens to have a pretty great budget. He’s deeply interested in it because he likes the idea of being a worker amongst workers, he loves the idea of fixing things and building things and being able to improve them.”

”So, the bigger the ideas get and the budgets and the sequences get the more I think, and I kind of learned this from Jon, that you just kind of want to go back to those simple truths that help keep it grounded so that no matter how wild it gets, things still make sense.” – Robert Downey Jr.

- How’s The Avengers shaping up? Downey: “I hate everybody. I’m not talking about the cast and I’m not talking about Joss. What I mean is I tend, and Jon can probably attest to this, I tend to look at a scene and say, ‘This is absolutely impossible, we can’t shoot this. This is horrible. I can tell you 10 other movies this has been in and I refuse to do it.’ I usually start off the morning by refusing to do what I’ve signed on to do.”

”Anyway, I just went, ‘How are you going to put all of us clowns together? He’s wearing a suit, he’s all jacked up, he’s so-and-so and, ahh, poor Mark Ruffalo… what’s he gonna fuckin’ do to us?’ And we’re about 6 weeks in and I gotta say Joss Whedon is nailing it. He’s so smart and he’s so good and it’s going to be great. I can’t believe I just said it, I never could have believed it. It’s going to be great.”

- “The most difficult part of making Iron Man 3 is going to be negotiating Jon Favreau’s acting deal.” – Robert Downey Jr.

- “If Happy Hogan doesn’t turn into The Freak, I’m not doin’ it! I want a love scene with Pepper Potts with my shirt on and I want to be The Freak.” – Jon Favreau

- “Negotiations have begun and so far I’m in agreement on every point.” – Robert Downey Jr.

- Regarding Shane Black doing Iron Man 3… when they were making the first movie they were stuck on a few things and Downey suggested asking Shane for some advice. Downey told Shane they couldn’t pay him and he said, “Bring me some salmon. Bring me some blueberries.” Favreau and Downey went to Shane’s and their talks came in handy and really shaped some of the scenes in the movie (Downey didn’t say which ones). Now that Shane is doing Iron Man 3, as he gets deeper into the process, he’s not asking “When can we go talk to Jon?” So, Favreau will consult with Black on the shaping of this new movie as much as Black needs him to.

- “If you want to get nominated for an Oscar, work with me and on your next movie you’ll get nominated. I’m the guy who sets it up. I am the Scottie Pippen of directors.” – Jon Favreau. Downey was nominated for Tropic Thunder after Iron Man and Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart.

- Favreau began the chat talking about the end credits scene to the first Iron Man (which he just watched with us, the Q&A resting between Iron Man 1 and Iron Man 2). He noted it was funny because all the little easter eggs in the movie were kind of afterthoughts, which is a stark difference from the Marvel films of today, where every little nod is there for a reason. The Cap shield was put in by their digital team at ILM as a lark and the Nick Fury post-credits scene was more because they thought it’d be cool and funny to bring in Sam Jackson, since the Ultimates Nick Fury was based on him.

Now all that has become movie canon and influenced the path that the Marvel Studios films have taken.

- Edgar Wright (who was in the crowd) was the man responsible for the Nick Fury scene being at the very end of the credits. Originally Favreau had it come up 30 seconds into the credits, but Wright was one of the first to see it and said it has to be put at the end of the credits… if any fans didn’t stick around until the end then they didn’t deserve the treat!

- “We were so secretive about Sam being in it and the next day, Ain’t It Cool News had it up. He came in on a weekend, in a limo, it was a small crew… I don’t know how it got out.” Mwahahaha.

- Favreau drove past the Santa Monica pier on the way home and that’s how he got the idea of having Iron Man fly past it. “If I could fly, that’s where I would fly.”

- They wanted the ending of Iron Man 2 to take place at Disneyland, but knew that couldn’t happen, so that’s how the idea of doing it in New York and having a World’s Fair came into play.

- The complex Iron Man and Pepper land on at the end of Iron Man 2 was Favreau’s place as a kid, the Fairview.

- Downey fought for the role of Tony Stark, but the studio didn’t want him because he was an unproven commodity when it came to this kind of tentpole picture. He had to screen test for it and did the movie “for a song.”

- Downey coming on-board changed the whole picture, especially the humorous tone, and his involvement attracted Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges.

- Favreau felt that the more grounded in reality the first movie was, the more he could contribute to it. He basically felt that the universe of the movie was our universe with only one addition: The Stark family and their contributions.



- There was a certain amount of pressure on Iron Man… if they fucked it up, the whole studio went away! Downey adds, “Yeah, but that wasn’t our pressure.”

- “We had the ‘I Am Iron Man’ ending, which seemed like such a great idea, and it was, and then we had to make a whole second movie that takes that into account,” said Favreau. Downey adds, “Your problem.”

- For the sequel, Favreau thought the parallel between Tony Stark and Howard Hughes was interesting, which led to the the subplot about the government trying to take away his tech. That felt like the old Hughes trials.

- “(Favreau) was like, ‘I see Tony in the Iron Man suit inside the circle of Randy’s Donuts and he’s hungover.’ I was like, ‘that’s great, that’s great’. Then I had to climb up there… with this suit, which is not easy to move around in.” - RDJ

- The Randy’s Donuts scene between Nick Fury and Tony Stark was originally supposed to be in SHIELD HQ, but Favreau felt a lot of the reality slipping away as the movie had to service more comic-booky things, like setting up Fury, so he did anything he could to ground the film in reality. That’s why he moved that sequence to a grimy Donut shop table instead of a glass and steel building and why he set the scene more about a guy who fell of the wagon meeting his sponsor the morning after a binge.

- Favreau was more into D&D, Star Wars and Spielberg movies as a kid than comic books. Downey grew up reading Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

- Regarding the Demon in the Bottle storyline: there was a “sensitivity” about having Stark being too involved with alcohol in Iron Man 2. Downey butted in with “We should have gone further.” There was a lot of pressure from the studio, though. They didn’t want to see Tony drinking much in the movie. “Say it was his illness that made him act that way,” is the note, but Favreau still had him drinking in the movie, so that kids might think “Oh, he’s sick” and adults might think, “Oh, he’s hammered!”

- “On the first Iron Man I just had two notes. One was look taller and be in better shape and look cooler than you actually are.” - RDJ

- Downey feels it’s odd doing The Avengers, playing Tony Stark, without Favreau, but he remembers where he started and says in a weird way this feels like graduating high school.

- Downey said he was a little envious of Favreau “tripping with Danny (Craig) and Harrison (you know) right now out there in the desert.” Boucher added, “And Olivia Wilde.” Downey responded, “I’m happily married. Who’s Olivia Wilde?”

- Favreau showed what was essentially a 9 minute trailer for Cowboys and Aliens and both he and Downey watched it with the crowd. Afterwards, Downey said, “that looks badass!”

- Favreau pulls out his phone and Downey says, “I’m sorry, did you need a moment to Twitter?” Favreau responds, “I’m just seeing if it’s online yet.”

- Comic-Con attendees: Favreau dropped some serious hints about a screening of Cowboys and Aliens in San Diego. “Comic-Con is a week before this comes out. I can’t really say anything officially, but if you’re a fan and you like this kind of thing you might want to be in San Diego.”

- Are there any story elements or plots that Favreau and Downey wanted to put in either movie that was nixed by the higher ups? Favreau enthusiastically said, “Oh, sure!” and then described their original idea to open Iron Man 2. “We wanted to open up Iron man 2 with Tony waking up, looking over and seeing that he just slept with Pepper Potts and just being really freaked out,” said Favreau.

- From Downey: “There was another one that we shot which is (me), like, over the Marvel logo going, “Pepper… I’m dying.” “Tony, no-no-no, we have to go.” “I’m not going to make it,” and we cut to a transport, like a C-17 or something and he’s puking into a toilet too hungover to do the mission. That was an awesome opening. Why did you cut it!?!”

- Favreau stressed that while they still had some creative freedom on the sequel the studio “now had something to protect.” There was the Avengers agenda, the Tony Stark agenda and there was the Hulk ending…” Downey interrupts with a dramatic tone in his voice “We’re putting a team together… even though Nick Fury is going to tell me he doesn’t want me to be on the team.”

- Favreau asked Downey how Sherlock 2 was coming along and then Downey proceeded to act out a joke version, dropping into his Sherlock voice. “Scene One: ‘This is an impossible crime scene! My Lord, nothing fits together… trust that it will! Let’s go kick the ass of men who normally could take me. I’m going to slow it all down, I’m going to pick them apart, find out their weaknesses…’”

- Favreau on Magic Kingdom. Favreau is fascinated how Disney movies and characters connects everybody from multiple generations, going back to great grandparents. Everybody has felt the same emotions, watching the same movies, going back 70+ years. With the movie he wants to hit a tone that is reverential, but not overly so. He cited Pixar at being masters of striking that balance.

- Favreau has gone on an after hours tour of Disneyland and I’m exceedingly jealous. He was hanging with the Imagineering people, went to Walt’s apartment (preserved as it was when Walt still used it) that overlooks the park, walked through Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion… The bastard.



Regarding that 9 minutes of Cowboys and Aliens, I won’t go too in-depth because a lot of it was what was in that first reel that has been reported over and over again. But I will say that some of the new footage, from later in the movie, was creepier than I expected. There was a sequence in an alien ship (mothership?) with Daniel Craig and a bunch of the aliens swarming through a tunnel and it reminded me a whole, whole, whole lot of James Cameron’s Aliens. The hallway itself looked a bit like Ridley Scott’s Alien, but the way the aliens swarmed through, some running along the ceiling in a quadrupedal manner was totally striking that Aliens chord.

It was a very fun Q&A. Hope you guys dug the rundown. Stay tuned for my catch-up articles on the Q&As from Richard Donner on Superman, Nicholas Meyer on Wrath of Khan and Lindeloff, Orci and Kurtzman on Star Trek!

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