Iron Man 2 Panel – Comic-Con Report

The big thing today is the panel on Iron Man 2, which promises lots of fun in the form of Robert Downey Jr.’s magnetic and hilarious presence, and lots of awesome in the form of badass movie footage. I’ll be live-blogging it as it happens. The demand is huge to get into this one, and I actually got in before Joe Quesada, E-I-C of Marvel Comics. So there’s a feather in my cap.

The crowd boos the moderator, Access Hollywood guy, and explodes for Jon Favreau, who shows a lame little clip of behind the scenes stuff. RDJ comes out to thunderous applause and fights Favreau to show more kickass footage. So they do, after getting the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to Favreau’s 8-year-old son Max.

The footage is amazing. Featuring the first appearance of a totally badass War Machine – the armored suit Don Cheadle will be wearing – as well as a little Scarlett Johansson kicking ass as the Black Widow, and the verbal sparring magic of RDJ’s Tony Stark completely owning Senator Garry Shandling in a congressional hearing trying to force Stark to give over the armor to the government. Not to mention some actual finished-looking effects of Mickey Rourke’s creepy Russian accent and his badass electric-whip rig as Whiplash, bearing down on a beaten-up Stark.

Favreau says they wanted to add new characters but not too many, and gear it towards the eventual Avengers movie. RDJ says playing Stark – he’s never had it so good. Cheadle says he’s never worked on a movie with this kind of scope, so he heavily relied on Jon and Robert to make sure he kept the right tone. The crowd seems pretty supportive of his presence despite his stepping into a role and replacing Terrence Howard.

Johansson met with Jon and Kevin Feige about a year before and tried to convince them he could do it. Favreau says she showed up to a meeting with dyed red hair to really show how badly she wanted the part – and claimed her audition was her body of work. She “worked her tail off” with the stunt guys. She ate a lot of egg white omlettes and did deep knee bends to get in shape.

Favreau has been watching the prep work on Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, but they haven’t discussed whether he’ll direct the Avengers movie, but it won’t start shooting until he’s done with Iron Man 2. He’ll definitely be involved in some way.

A former intern on Iron Man says he had to go through lots and lots of Iron Man comics to note miniscule costume changes, and asks if Favreau made him do that. The room explodes in laughter as does the panel.

RDJ on Mickey Rourke: “I don’t know what to say. I thought *I* was eccentric.” Rourke has most of his screentime with Rockwell as Justin Hammer. Rockwell says he had a great time, and RDJ accuses him of giving short Oliver North answers. His character, Whiplash, is combined with the character of Ivan Vanko to keep fans guessing a bit. Rourke apparently went to a Russian prison to study the role, and he is a sex god in Russia because the first movie they had after perestroika was 9 1/2 Weeks. RDJ quips “where do you want to go if you’re a sex god in Russia besides the prison?” Everyone laughs.

Cheadle says a main theme is “no man is an island.” Favreau didn’t want to go as dark as the current Iron Man books are because that would conflict with the tone they established with the first one, but they did want to get into what the character would really be dealing with.

ScarJo says she did mixed martial arts training and an incredible stunt team she spent as much time as possible with. She wants to see actors doing their own stunts in other movies, so she put all her vim and vigor into every day of training.

Cheadle asks to see the footage again and they do. Rockwell’s Justin Hammer is a cocky young guy selling arms to James Rhodes, and then cut to War Machine with all sorts of crazy guns firing in all directions. The crowd goes nuts again. RDJ expressed jealousy that Cheadle’s rig is cooler than his.

A fan says Rockwell deserves an Oscar for Moon (the crowd and I agree with this sentiment) and asks about Cheadle vs. Howard. Cheadle says he tried to make the role his own, but also is a vampire and tried to siphon as much as he could from Howard’s performance and modernize it.

Famed Iron Man writer of yore Bob Layton is credited with creating the version of Tony Stark that the films are using, and he comes on stage to sing the praises of Favreau and the whole team of filmmakers, saying he was treated like royalty when visited the set.

RDJ loves the last question asking him if his experience playing a black man in Tropic Thunder means he could’ve played Cheadle’s part. He appreciates the smartassery of it.

Another smartass asks how he likes playing a good guy in Iron Man 2 vs. the bad guy in Meteor Man – Cheadle denies knowledge of Meteor Man, tongue in cheek.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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