I don’t need to hook you because you’re already hooked. You’ve probably already hit the jump. At 4pm this afternoon, “Iron Man 2”, the ultimate presentation in Hall H debuted. Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, and Sam Rockwell, and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige were all in attendance. My full write up of perhaps the best presentation at this year’s Comic-Con is after the jump.
For those that don’t know, back in the summer of 2007, “Iron Man” was flying under the radar. It was a second-tier character directed by Jon Favreau who wasn’t known for action despite doing very well with special effects in his previous flim, “Zathura”, and starred Robert Downey Jr. who was in the process of making a comeback but was still attached more to his lurid past than his immense acting ability.
And then they had a presentation for the film in Hall H at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con and it blew the bricks off the walls. At that moment, “Iron Man” because a movie that folks were greeting with a collective shrug to one of 2008’s must-see films. It was those 6,000+ strong attendees in the room that day and then spread their good words on the film as far as possible. Returning this year as the last major panel of this year’s Con, only those with VIP passes and those who camped in the late hours of the night would fill the room. They were die-hards. Yes, they were more than happy to sit through the panels for “Lost”, “Extract”, “Zombieland”, and “2012” but they were there for “Iron Man 2”. Two years after surprising everyone at Comic-Con, it was now an event and everyone wanted to be a part of it.
The presentation begins and the moderator is some well-meaning but completely vanilla talking head from Access Hollywood and as he walks on stage, he’s greeted by a chorus of boos. It’s a bummer of who-knows-who connections because the best person to do this would have been Patton Oswalt since he kicked off Hall H and he should have closed it out (although he may have a had a contractual obligation to Disney, but there were still better choices out there than this guy).
But before we can get to down on No-Name Whogivesashit, Jon Favreau comes out on stage and every person in Hall H is cheering their brains out. But before they can even stop cheering, take their seats, and catch their breath, Favreau unleashes new footage.
Except the footage is done in the style of a really crappy EPK or infomercial. It’s really funny and I kind of feel like if that was all they showed, folks would be a little disappointed but still loved what they saw anyway. But of course, that fake EPK is nowhere near the last footage we’ll see.
The audience cheers once more but again, before they can even catch their breath, in walks Robert Downey Jr. and while I thought the cheers I heard for Robert Pattinson or Downey’s presentation yesterday for “Sherlock Holmes”, nothing prepared me for the full-on adulation this man received (and deservedly so, of course). But he’s not even waiting a moment before he lays into Favreau for that crappy footage. He tells him that the fans deserve better, that Downey deserves, better and what the fuck is Favreau trying to pull? Favreau hems-and-haws about how the effects aren’t finished (this is clearly all a little skit they’re doing, but it’s entertaining nonetheless), and he’s not sure if really has anything to present. Downey shouts to the crowd, “You want to see the real stuff?”* The lights go down and we’re now ready for the big show.
Not to delay my description any longer but I just want to thank Favreau and whoever else put this presentation together for showing the footage twice because the first time around I got a lot of scenes out of order and couldn’t remember most of the lines.
We open with Stark eating a donut, wearing his armor with the helmet off, while happily resting inside the famous Randy’s Donut structure. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) comes on screen and tells Stark, “Get off the donut.” We then cut to the two having a conversation inside the diner and Stark says he doesn’t really want to join Fury’s “family” and without missing a beat he says, “I don’t want to be rude so which do I look at, your eye or your eye-patch?” When Stark asks Fury if he’s serious, Fury responds that he’s the most serious man Stark will ever meet.
We then cut to Stark sitting in a congressional hearing with rival weapons manufacturer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) sitting off on the far side of the table, Stark in the middle, and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) sitting in the gallery. Garry Shandling plays the aggressive Senator Stern who asks Stark if his suit is a weapon. Stark (like Downey Jr.), has a smart-ass response to all of Stern’s question but he says that it’s not a weapon and he’s not going to turn it over because the suit is him and he is the suit. Speaking clear and confidently to Stern, Stark repeats his famous line: “I am Iron Man”. And then he says that giving over the suit would be the equivalent of indentured servitude or prostitution, like a Senator for instance. The gallery laughs and cheers. Stern then calls Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) into the room and Stark gets up and walks to Rhodes and asks what he’s doing here. Rhodes tells Stark that they’re friends but “I have to do this.” Then there’s another heated exchange between Stern and Stark and I forget what’s said exactly but it ends with Stern saying, “Fuck you. Fuck you.” (Don’t worry about the language causing an R-rating because the way it plays is that when he says “Fuck you,” he’s currently on CNN so the “fuck” is bleeped). He then tells Stark that he’s dismissed. Stark smiles and walks out the door.
We then see some more quick shots before we go to Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), also known as Whiplash, building his own suit and we hear his voice over of why he’s going to go against Stark by building his own suit. His beef with Stark (and it’s actually quite legitimate) is that after decades of having his weapons kill tens of thousands of people, Stark is now trying to remake himself as a hero. While it’s not explicitly said, my assumption is that Stark’s weapons were used during the Cold War and they ended up ruining Vanko’s life. We hear all this as Vanko’s voiceover while he builds his own suit. The speech is also cut with quick scenes of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) kicking lots of ass but we don’t learn anything about her character. I like that a lot because it saves something interesting for a later date.
Then Whiplash and Tony throw down at a race track and the previous photo of Whiplash doesn’t really do the character justice. He’s got two awesome tendrils shooting from his arms, charged with some kind of electric energy (the arcs and sparks are of an orange-ish hue instead of blue although this might change in ten months the film has till its release). Whiplash wreaks a nice piece of destruction and it’s clear that Stark is scared because not only is he already been banged up (presumably by Whiplash coming onto the track and perhaps causing Tony’s race car to crash), but he’s without his suit which makes him powerless.
Before we’re done, we see Stark in the Iron Man armor and looking ready to kick some ass (although in all fairness, the Iron Man suit always looks like it’s ready to kick some ass). The “Iron Man 2” logo then slams onto the screen and the audience cheers like mad.
Oh wait, we’re not done? Hell no.
The final scene has Hammer striding on to a hangar on an airforce base (could it be the Edwards Air Force Base we reported on earlier this year?) and approaches Rhodes and a few other officers in front of a table. Hammer wears a smile of smug satisfaction on his face and examines a broken, unpainted Iron Man suit lying on the table. He asks if this is really it and then pops a sucker into his mouth. Rhodes says it is and what Hammer has for him. Hammer then proceeds to show off a small arsenal (think of Zorg’s presentation in “The Fifth Element) and places them, each with more firepower than the next, on the table next to the armor. Hammer then asks which one Rhodes wants. “All of them”, replies Rhodes, no trace of emotion in his voice.
Before the audience can even piece together what everything on the table combined with the presence of Rhodes means (provided they haven’t figured it out already), we see War Machine completely tearing up a battlefield. The moment is very short but it’s clear that while War Machine may not be as pretty as Iron Man, he may easily have the superior suit. Then “May 2010” slams on to the screen and the audience reaches a height of ecstasy previously thought impossible even when using the drug ecstasy.
And we’re still not done. The footage has to end with Iron Man and we see him getting hit by and trying to dodge a barrage of missiles. And now we’re done. The crowd is on their feet and their cheers are at a level of enthusiasm received by no other presentation I saw during my days in Hall H this year.
The crowd, after yelling and applauding their hearts out, finally gets a moment to breathe and Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadler, and (a few minutes later), Sam Rockwell are brought on stage to massive applause and brief descriptions of their characters. While I still thought the moderator was a bust overall, he does have the good sense to say that Rockwell’s newest film, “Moon”, is currently in theatres and that everyone should see it. We’re now finally ready for the audience Q&A and I pray it’s not wretched. On the bright side, Bob Stencil is nowhere to be found and I provide an addendum to my prayers that Stencil was hit by a bus and then, even though dead, was run over by another, heavier bus.
The first question is a good one: will Favreau direct “The Avengers”? Favs kind of dances around the question by saying he still has a year left on “Iron Man” and Kenneth Branagh is currently at work on “Thor” (which won’t be out till Summer 2011) so he’s not sure. I would say that the odds are certainly in Favreau’s favor since he’s the one that began this whole saga and it’s only fitting he should be the one to reach its culmination.
Downey is asked about what it was like facing off against Whiplash. Downey says that it was great and he loved working with Mickey Rourke, but it’s really Hammer who spends the most time with Whiplash so maybe Sam should answer. Sam just says it was good and Downey retorts, “What’s with the Oliver North responses”. Sam then elaborates that while he thinks Rourke is an amazing actor, the two didn’t really get to know each other that well outside of smoking cigarettes together a few times.
To elaborate on Rourke, Downey mentions that Rourke wanted to be here but there was a scheduling conflict but not to worry, Rourke will certainly be part of the film’s promotion. Favreau then mentions about how he told Rourke that Vanko’s character was in a Russian prison and then the next thing Favreau knows, Rourke is in a Russian prison (not arrested but research for his character). Favreau says that he didn’t instruct Rourke to do that and he learned of the visit on TMZ.
I forget the next question (I was only half-listening to those asking the questions because I was so busy trying to write down everything I could remember about the footage) but Cheadle’s response was that a major theme of the film is that no man is an island and Favreau follows up by saying that it’s also about what it means when you say “I am Iron Man.” Cheadle then asks if they can play the footage again. The audience is more quiet this time around, not because they don’t like what they see but because they want to make sure they can hear every line and soak up every moment. Of course, at that moment of War Machine tearing up a battlefield, it once again brings down the house.
I forget the last few questions but I’m appreciating what “Iron Man 2” looks to be: Stark vs. The World. He’s going against Whiplash, Hammer, possibly Rhodes, and certainly the U.S. government. If we’re gonna get the “Demon in a Bottle” story for “Iron Man 3”, this story could be what sends him there.
“Iron Man 2” hits theatres on May 7th, 2010.