Jon Favreau Comic Con Interview – IRON MAN

     August 1, 2007

Last weekend I attended Comic-Con and interviewed a ton of people involved with “Iron Man.” If you missed the previous interviews just click on the persons name –Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrance Howard and the head of production at Marvel – Kevin Feige.

As you can imagine, during the roundtable interview Jon kept his cards very close, but he did reveal that he’d be interested in doing a “Captain America” or “Avengers” movie if he had the chance. He also sounded quite excited about doing another “Iron Man” movie, and since he’s been making the first film for many months and he’s still extremely excited, it’s just another reason why I think the film is going to rock.

As always, you can either read the transcript below or download the audio of the interview as an MP3 by clicking here.

And with that… here’s Jon. Expect a ton of video interviews from Comic-Con starting tomorrow.

Question: How did you get from being an actor in a comic book film to directing it? Do you miss being a daredevil or behind the camera?

Jon Favreau: No because I could always stick myself in the movie which you saw. I was very happy to be in the movie.

Very happy?

Very happy.

Can you talk a little bit about the other cameos like Samuel L. Jackson?

I can tell you… there’s a lot of speculation about cameos in the movie and most of them are completely unfounded. As far as Sam Jackson, as far as I’m concerned, there is only one Nick Fury and that’s David Hasselhoff.

So why Iron Man for you?

Why Iron Man for me? Avi Arad who I met on Daredevil and he was talking to me about their getting the properties. They were securing the rights to the properties. I’ve always been curious about Captain America as a character I loved him. I love the idea about a guy being frozen in ice in World War II and waking up at the turn of the century and seeing who our allies are and who our enemies are and what America is. There was room for a lot of social commentary and humor but as far as the action goes it’s much more challenging title. Iron Man with the technology we have today this is the first time you could make this hero—you can make a movie about this hero that stays true to the vision in the books and you can depict what the suit could do that you never could before.

You got the comic book audience but how did you plan to get say the non-comic book audience to watch the movie?

What’s nice now—I mean look—the biggest hurdle was getting the comic book audience to know we got the right guy playing Tony Stark. They were hailing the movie with the right tone, with the right humor, with the right personality, with the right look and we got the suit right. Because that’s the only people who know who Iron Man is right now are the fans. Now it’s about educating the rest of the public and what Transformers showed is that if you have enough visual interest on the screen there will be a curiosity about a movie like that. People will go see it. Iron Man, although he’s a super hero and has all the wonderful aspects of the Marvel tradition of a conflicted flawed hero, but you also have the layer of technology that’s going to you know with ILM it’s basically you know ILM has been doing a great work on Transformers, on Pirates of the Caribbean. They going to bring a visual interest to the suit and the chorography and you got a little taste of it with the footage that there’s a tremendous…you know you could cut a trailer that has nothing to do with what we all loved about Iron Man that would make every kid in America want to see this movie just because of the layers of technology, the fighting and the Marvel brand. Don’t underestimate that. People want to see movies like that. They know they’re in for a wild ride when they see a Marvel movie.

Is this movie going to be appropriate for little kids that are Iron Man fans? Like 5 year olds?

It’s going to be PG-13. That being said, my son who’s just turned 6, I would very comfortably bring him to the film. As far as language, sexuality, stuff that’s difficult, violence that is like you know I had a hard time showing…there are PG-13 movies like Van Helsing that I had to turn off with my kids watching. Even Daredevil was a little tricky to show him because it was made to be very violent at times—the character was as well. In this I wanted to have something that wasn’t…that the action was appropriate for all audiences but I didn’t want to make it like a PG family fun film because it was Tony Stark and Tony Stark likes to screw, he likes to drink, he likes to party and he likes to drive fast cars and Iron Man gets rough and tumble. It’s about a guy who’s ambushed in a convoy, in our case in Afghanistan, so there’s a way to treat that material where it’s not cleaned up too much for me where I’ll enjoy watching it but I wouldn’t feel irresponsible letting my kids see it. But it’s my kid. Not everybody’s kids are the same way.

How is it working on a bigger canvas that Marvel is spinning right now. I mean, they are now their own company; they have a bunch of characters that they own the rights. They’re doing Iron Man, they’re doing Hulk, and they have Captain America and everything. Do you see these characters like mingling together?

I hope so. I don’t know how many Iron Man movies you can make before you need to see The Avengers happen or Shield. There’s certainly Kevin who’s…I don’t know if you’ve spoken with him yet—he’s a fan. He has an interest in it. Legally they’re getting into position where they can do it. There are different challenges from a business standpoint about doing that because it’s a different…making Ocean’s 11 is a different business model than making a movie that Brad Pitt is starring in. If they could navigate those waters then I think creatively would make a lot of sense. It would be a lot of fun and I hope to be the guy who gets to do it.

Why did you decide you wanted to do the effects in camera rather than CG?

I did both. There’s a lot of CG but I think to do CG effectively you have to play a game with the audience where you show them something real and show them something fake and the fake stuff should look real and the real stuff should look CG and Stan Winston’s design was something where we could work with craftsman. If you saw Mark I suit down there, you see a lot of details in it. That keeps ILM honest and vice versa, if ILM could make this guy acrobatic and fly in the air like you saw, the suit can’t be so restrictive that it looks like you’re cutting…it can’t look like the Power Rangers when you cut from the people in suits to the …has to look like the same person and that’s part of …I think you lose the audience emotionally if they don’t buy the transition between the two.

So who is the character based on?

Well, the character is based a lot on Howard Hughes.

No, to you.

To me, who’s a real hero? A real hero, you mean these aren’t real people? I thought that comic book characters were real. At Comic Con I saw a few of them walking around. I saw a guy dressed as Darth Maul who’s my hero. Who’s a hero in real life? I’m a big fan of Tony Blair. I like him a lot. But not to defer to far but I like…I have a lot of respect for the guy and I wish him well in what he’s doing now. I think he’s an interesting leader but I think it’s going to be a whole new cast of characters coming into the world of politics in the next year. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens.

You look great.

Thank you very much.

You must have dropped like…

Yeah, like 80 pounds.

How did you do it?

Running from my chair to in front of the camera a lot to talk to actors. As a director, you always eat a lot and you still manage to lose weight. It’s like the Deadliest Catch, working on the crab boats you burn so many calories by worrying and staying up and working so hard… usually lose a little bit of weight. This time around I decided not to go to the craft service table and be very careful about what I ate and the weight came off in a few months.

And were you able to exercise all this time?

Not really.

Was it a conscious thing or…

It was very conscious. Well, I knew I would do a cameo in the movie so I wanted to look good so I just kept going with it and just watching how much and eating less food. It sounds silly but that was my big secret.

So no more acting for you because then you gain weight?

Yeah, I like acting a lot and I hope to do some. I always manage to do something with Vince and hope to do some work with him and maybe do some comedy with him and we’ll see how this goes. You know, the jury’s out on this movie until it comes out and it’s a 2 year process to make these types of movies, so hopefully between now and if I’m so lucky to make another Iron Man movie hopefully do some acting and maybe some other movies.

What did you learn by working on Daredevil as an actor that you brought as a director to Iron Man because they’re both super hero movies?

Wow, yeah. As an actor I didn’t really learn a lot because I was so on the periphery as a supporting character, sort of a comedic sidekick. I learned don’t shoot more movie then you intend to put on the screen. You waste a lot of time and money so really get the story right before you go into production. I also learned that if you make a movie make it something that you don’t have to be a comic book fan to appreciate. I think Daredevil—a lot of effort was put into keeping it true to the books—and I think tonally it never broke to the next level of success. It was certainly a successful film but I think it could have done better if the audience was broader for it.

So there’s not going to be a 40 hours extended cut.

No, I hope not. I looked at a cut that the longest cut of everything was a little less than 3 hours which isn’t that long for a first cut. It will be below 2 by the time it comes out. So I have a lot of decisions to make.

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Can you talk about Avengers, Captain America and Iron Man as being a director.

I would love to be faced with that challenge if this works out well and Marvel franchises all come together there’s certainly opportunity to do that.

What can you tell us about the comic book you’re writing?

The comic book I’m writing? Arnie Granoff and I started working together in designing the suit for the movie. I wanted him as involved as I could be to stay true to that vision. I thought his vision for the hero was wonderful. Then he hit me up and said did you ever think of writing books? I said I don’t really know that much about that process. He said I’ll help you with it and we’ve been very collaborative and it’s going to be Iron Man Viva Las Vegas and he’s going to fight Fin Fang Foom on the Vegas strip.

Will it take place in the movie universe or the comic universe?

I broke out of this movie universe. It’s too restrictive. I wanted to have him changing with an attaché case and I wanted to be able to draw on the Marvel universe.

When will it be coming out?

Before the movie. I’m not sure when we’ll be releasing it.

Terrance spoke about revising the script on the set.

Oh yeah sure.

What was it you changed? Was it dialogue?

Dialogue change. We learned things about the characters as we went. We refined the story on the set but this is part of the process. The Marvel movies they do that a lot where it’s more about the story and about and for me there’s always been a component of improvisation in movies I’ve worked on. I was lucky to have actors who could handle it like this guy. Ok, I’ll see you there, buddy.

Since Iron Man has a bunch of armor, is there going to be at least a hangar with all the unused armors. And Swingers hit close to home.

Thank you very much about Swingers. As far as Iron Man, we showed 2 suits so far—we showed the Mark I and the Mark III. So put it all together.

Where is the Mark II?

We had to save something, right? We have to save some surprises.

Can you talk about what it’s like to show your footage at Comic Con with 7,000 people and everyone just loving it?

It’s awesome because you don’t know if you’re going to …you could die on the vine here. If they decide you’re Catwoman, you’re done. Comic Con can drive a stake through the heart of a property like this where it’s not like Superman, or Batman, or Spiderman where everybody knows it in our culture. This is something where there’s going to be an education process so by showing it to the fans first they were going to decide whether they liked the movie or not based on what we showed them. From here we could build out but it’s knowing what the challenges of each title are. In this film the challenge was knowing and satisfying the fans of the books. In another movie it’s, you know, reinventing a franchise that’s been done before. Each movie has it’s own. In our case, this is the place to show the footage for the first time and I think the gamble paid off. People seemed to respond to it from what I’ve read online, what I’ve seen and what I felt in the room and now Paramount who’s distributing the film is like we’ve got to get a trailer together. They were the same people who were like we shouldn’t show a trailer yet. When Transformers was coming out it was too early and now when they saw the fan response here, it’s changing the way they approach things. So Comic Con is a very valuable way of putting your finger on the pulse of pop culture and pop culture is being driven by Fanboys right now, so lucky for us Iron Man is a title they like and hopefully it’ll slowly roll out to the general population leading up to May 2nd.

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