You may or may not have heard, but this weekend in Los Angeles, the L.A. Times geek blog, Hero Complex held its own little festival. Jon Favreau and HC webmaster Geoff Boucher were scheduled to talk about Favreau’s career-making turn as the director behind 2008’s wildly successful, “Iron Man” on Sunday night at the Chinese 6 Theatre in Hollywood and a little unannounced guest appeared: none other than Tony Stark himself, Robert Downey Jr.
While many subjects were discussed, from the fact that Downey Jr. had to fight tooth and nail for the part (more on that in a sec), to the fact that it was “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” helmer Edgar Wright who suggested the Nick Fury scene being placed at the very end of the credits, perhaps one of the bigger revelations for Marvel and “Iron Man” fans was that while Favreau won’t be directing “Iron Man 3” — that gig will instead go to “Lethal Weapon” writer and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” director Shane Black — he still may be involved to a degree.
What happened behind the scenes with Favreau and Marvel remains somewhat of a mystery (though there have been plenty of rumors), but Favreau did butt heads with the company back in 2008 before his “Iron Man 2” directing deal was completed (they dragged their heels, while he was was unsure if he would actually direct the picture). The company has been notoriously known for its lowballing (see Terrence Howard who left/was replaced in the franchise by Don Cheadle, plus Samuel L. Jackson and Mickey Rourke who both publicly complained about the pitiful salaries Marvel was offering them).
The writing was probably on the wall when Favreau signed on to direct “Cowboys & Aliens” in the summer of 2009. Regardless, Robert Downey Jr. did hint at some of the issues between Marvel and Favreau. “The toughest man of ‘Iron Man 3’ will be [negotiating] Jon Favreau’s day rate. It’s gonna be huge and I’ll see that they pay it.,” RDJ quipped in a half-serious, half-joking tone that has a lot of truth to it captured by /Film
But regardless of whether there’s bad blood or not, the Shane Black/Robert Downey Jr./Jon Favreau relationship goes way back to to the first “Iron Man.” According to AICN, who were in attendance taking notes, when the duo were making the original “Iron Man” they were stuck on a few narrative points and Downey suggested asking Black for some advice.The trio sat down and their conversations helped shape some of the scenes. According to AICN, “Favreau will consult with Black on the shaping of this new movie as much as Black needs him to.”
/Film also attended and quote RDJ: “So what I can say about this kind of circle of life thing is Shane, as he’s getting into the process [to direct ‘Iron Man 3’] and getting his sea legs and stuff, he goes, ‘When can we talk to Jon?’ So there’s going to be this kind of conglomerate of efforts.”
Surely, this is Favreau returning the favor to Black, not Marvel, but we guess his involvement right now will be a TBD one. Another part of the conversation that was fascinating is being reminded that Robert Downey Jr. was not the studio’s first, second or even third choice to play the lead, but t’s important to note the context of his career at that time.
You’ll have to remember that in 2008, Robert Downey Jr. was not yet a star and was still coming off the stigma of his numerous drug-related arrests and charges. While his last arrest came in April 2001, and there were many decent good roles in between, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” “Zodiac,” parts in “Good Night and Good Luck,” “A Scanner Darkly,” the idea of him leading a tentpole wasn’t exactly an idea the studio’s loved (let’s not forget his 2003 comeback role “The Singing Detective” only happened because buddy Mel Gibson paid Downey’s insurance bond).
“From the moment we finally got to cast him — and he had to screen-test for it, and he did; he fought his way to get the part,” Favreau recalled. “He blew everybody away, they couldn’t make an argument against him. God bless him, he worked hard, and I told him, no, it’s not going to happen, and he said, ‘I’d like to keep fighting for it,’ and I said, ‘I’ll go as long as you do.’ While his salary negotiations are hopefully different now, RDJ said he made the first film for the price of “a song.”
“Iron Man 3” will hit theaters on May 3, 2013 but RDJ will suit up in “The Avengers” next year which hits on May 4, 2012.
[Image and some quotes courtesy of Ain’t It Cool News]