Posted by: theboyfromsmallville | May 24, 2008

Speaking of primaries… (an Iron Man postscript, plus great video added)

The Ad Guy, and I can imagine him fervently crossing his fingers on this one, hopes that Robert Downey Jr. stays sober enough for the requisite parts two and three of one of the more surprising comic-book movie hits of the year.

Frankly, I think the miracle was that Robert Downey Jr. was actually sober enough to finish the first film in the first place. I admit to be one of the skeptics when it was first announced that the human version of catch-and-release fishing would flesh out the role of industrialist Tony Stark.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one. Director Jon Favreau admitted that Marvel Studios also also hedged a bit on his original choice. The solution: Run the casting of Downey by comic book fans in a sort-of primary-type attempt to get the mainstream nod. An article on the New York Times described how Favreau attended a convention to “sell” his choice as the actor to portray Stark/Iron Man.

I couldn’t get the link to the free view so I’m just pasting the article from the subscriber’s site. Read on:


Before the article! This just in! Uber-cool video! Whets the appetite for an Avengers movie! Not that the teaser at the end of the Iron Man critics wasn’t enough to get sex-deprived geeks drooling! And! Exclamation points! Video courtesy of!


Okay, now the article:


   c.2008 San Antonio Express-News
   Running his first national bid to win the popular vote with a candidate soiled by some dirty laundry, “Iron Man” director Jon Favreau took his campaign directly to the super delegates: diehard comic-book fans. “Iron Man” stars Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr., who has a widely publicized history of drug and legal problems, as Tony Stark, a billionaire weapon designer and genius inventor.
   Stark builds the ultimate weapon, a suit of super-strength armor that flies as fast, if not faster, than the latest military aircraft.
   The movie, which co-stars Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow, is an offbeat superhero yarn. Stark makes his first, crude iron suit to save his life when he’s being held captive by Middle Eastern extremists. Once free, he’s a changed man. He works feverishly to save the world, not destroy it.

Heroes aren't born... they're built

Favreau, speaking on the telephone from Los Angeles, said Marvel Studios only reluctantly agreed to place Downey in the Iron Man suit.
   “I think that they would have preferred a more boring choice,” he said.
   So last July, Favreau took some “Iron Man” footage and his leading man to Comic-Con in San Diego. He showed bits and pieces of his work-in-progress to the more than 5,000 of the comic-book faithful in attendance. Favreau knew that if he couldn’t win over the fan boys (and girls), “Iron Man” would be heading for a short flight.
   “I felt a responsibility to the fans,” he said. “I also knew (it was) the only way to really get the message through, especially in this day and age where the grass-roots Internet buzz is so important. It’s not something you can just buy with banner ads; it’s something you really have to win over. I knew if I satisfied the comic-book fans that the word would spread.”
   Favreau’s gamble paid off.
   “They liked the choice of Tony Stark. They liked the tone. They liked how ‘Iron Man’ looked,” he said. “It sort of grew and spread through YouTube and Web sites like Ain’t It Cool News and SuperHeroHype. It all sort of hit that Internet echo chamber and eventually worked its way up to the mainstream media.
   “All of a sudden, by satisfying the core fans, it ended up piquing the curiosity of the mainstream. You need the mainstream to show up for a movie this size. You can’t just rely on the fans to buy tickets. You have to ultimately break through.”
   Favreau’s savvy frontal attack may soon become the norm rather than a rare event. While it appears to have paid off, there’s the question of how comfortable a filmmaker feels about letting super-fans in on the decision-making process of constructing a movie.
   “I think you should take them into consideration, for sure,” he said. “As smart as fans are for comic book movies, I don’t think that you can let them dictate it like suggestions at an improv scene. I think you can, though, put your ear to the ground through the Internet and get a sense of the zeitgeist and take their temperature of who they like and who they don’t like and who you’ve cast.”
   Movies are indeed made by committee. But before every comic-book reader deluges Favreau with notes and suggestions, they need to know their input only goes so far.
   “I think they should have a voice in it, but I don’t think they’re part of the creative committee in the same way that the people are like Robert (Downey), the people from Marvel and myself. I think you have to sort of stick to your guns and tell the story that you want to tell,” he said. “But I think you’ve got to pay attention to what the people want.”
   What Favreau wanted was the unlikely — at least on the surface — choice of Downey as Tony Stark. The biggest relief he felt during the whole “Iron Man” process, he said, was the day that he cast Downey in the role and it was approved.

   “I think that more than just the quality of actor that Robert is, it’s more what he represents,” he said. “His image both onscreen and offscreen adds dimension to this character. I think the thing I was most afraid of was that the film would have been seen as just another run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter superhero movie. There have been so many of them now that I didn’t want to just fall in line with the rest of the superhero films.” Downey, he said, gave “Iron Man” an identity.
   “I think he brought a realism to it,” he said. “I think he gets away with a lot because he’s so charming. He allows us to present Tony Stark in the way that he is in the books without sanding down his rough edges. Robert’s really able to be charming, even when he’s playing characters that might be unsavory as presented by other performers. It gave me tremendous freedom.”
   Favreau understood, of course, the studio’s reluctance. Downey has fought a series of battles with addiction, even to the point of serving prison time in 1999-2000.
   “They were staking their whole company on this first film,” he said. “The success or failure of Marvel Studios is going to depend a great deal on what happens this summer. When I told them that I wanted to cast a 40-plus-year-old character actor as their matinee hero, it concerned them.
   “He could have gotten in the way, potentially, of the movie. It has to be a movie where parents have to be comfortable bringing their kids to it. From meeting with Robert and talking to him, I truly believed in my heart that he was in a really positive chapter of his life. I think what has happened with his career the last couple of years sort of bears that out. He’s a very disciplined, spiritually open person right now. I’m very proud of what he was able to accomplish.”
   Stark spends more time out of the suit than in, so it was key to Favreau that when his flawed hero does don the flashy one-man flying machine, the audience believes at all times that it’s Downey as Stark at the controls.
   “My goal was to make both aspects of the film feel consistent so it didn’t feel like the Power Rangers,” he said. “You know, in one scene you’ve got a bunch of American actors, then you cut to a scene of a bunch of Japanese guys in suits doing martial arts. We wanted to make sure that that wasn’t part of the experience. That’s a bit off-putting to me. “We also wanted to make sure that people enjoyed the stuff not in the suits as much as the stuff in the suits. I think that’s why they hired me. That’s more my frame of reference, scenes between people and comedy and dialogue and character. The other stuff I was able to learn on the fly.”


Speaking of movies, another blockbuster is getting it flush on the chin from not-so fans.

Damn those hypersensitive commies!!! !@#$%#@

My comment?

Wait till you hear from the critics, Mr. Jones.



  1. I got a huge crush on Downey after watching the “Iron Man.” When I saw him perform a spoof with Ben Stiller and Jack Black in the American Idol Season 7 Finale, I fell in love with him. He is so so HOT!

    However, I’m disappointed on “Indiana Jones.” (No spoiler here.) At the end of the movie, I felt that something is lacking, but I don’t know what. I just felt something’s missing.

    At least, Mr. Ford,you remain my mom’s favorite actor.

  2. to be fair, mr jones is now how old?


  3. Kate, Tel: On Indy, Stark being hot… Uh, I guess? :D

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