Downey is one of the most talented actors on the planet, and Favreau has a proven track record. Why is this blockbuster team so nervous?
“I’ve never done a sequel before, unless you count me being an ‘Under 5’ on Batman Forever as an actor,” Favreau said, referring to his brief role of “less than five lines” in Joel Schumacher’s film. “But for me there wasn’t the same pressure that you’re used to feeling, especially coming up with smaller movies, where you’re throwing a party and you don’t know if people are going to show up. Here, we knew people were going to show up. We just wanted to make sure everyone who showed up had a good time, and this was going to be as fun or more fun than the last party. So, a different kind of pressure.”
Sequels are always difficult. You have to get more involved and introduce new characters – in this case Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash, Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow – but you don’t want to drown out what made the first film successful, a lot of which is Downey’s talent and chemistry with Gwyneth Paltrow. Favreau is definitely aware of this, and he knows it’s tough. “The trick with the characters is to feather them in so they don’t overwhelm the story and you don’t suffer from villain-itis,” he said. “So by having Justin Hammer and Mickey Rourke’s character come together fairly early, you really have two story lines that are weaving. You don’t have five separate storylines, and the same thing with Scarlett as Black Widow, working her way into Gwyneth and Robert’s story. So we really try to keep narrative flows going so that it didn’t get too convoluted because I lose track of that stuff. Especially in sequels as the franchises get more complex, I don’t always remember what happened in the last movie. Not for nothing, I like to watch the stuff blow up, but I’m not going to do homework before I go see a sequel to be up on everything. So we tried to keep that simple.”
Downey had similar worries about making the sequel work. “We just labored really hard to say, ‘Okay, we’re audience members who made the first Iron Man a success, and we’re smart, which is kind of why we were drawn to it, so what do we expect?’ So we kept putting ourselves in the audience’s seats, and so the mental and emotional aspects and development of Tony were, to me, a lot more – it’s strange to say ‘personal’ because, not necessarily relating to my life, so to speak, but just the mythology of saying you’re something and being that thing is something entirely different.”
Despite the wise attitudes, they’re still losing sleep about making this movie. Did they pull it off as they’d hoped? Initial critical response was mixed, but public preview screenings have been pretty enthusiastic. You’ll just have to see for yourself – and if you’re really eager to check it out, midnight screenings abound nationwide.