Hollywood.com: How is the writing coming along?
Jon Favreau: The writing is really coming along quite well. We have Justin Theroux working on it who [Robert] Downey knows. He echoes Downey's tastes a lot. They worked together on Tropic Thunder…So we're breaking story and pages are coming out, but it's really more of a conversation than actual writing right now…We're making our own story. Although, I'll tell you which ones we're looking at very closely, not so much for story, but for tone and the way it's been executed – it's the Matt Fraction stuff.
HW: The two major aspects of the Iron Man mythology are the 'Demon in the Bottle' story and being replaced at some point by Rhodey. Do you have to look at that?
JF: There's always the sense of like, 'Let’s save something for another movie.' But I think there's a way to wade into it and if it's done right you're not going to have to turn on a dime. [PAGEBREAK]
HW: How much is Downey involved in the development of the sequel?
JF: I was at his house yesterday. I was there yesterday and he's getting ready to go do Sherlock Holmes…clearly we met Justin through him. He really thought the world of him from that process and there was a lot of writing going on during that film too. There are things like, 'What do you want to play, Robert? What should we do?' Robert was very collaborative on the set and writing it and making all the choices. Part of my gig is to not just ask him to stand on his mark, but learn to bring enough of his reality into it so that it seems interesting and has more dimension.
HW: Did Dark Knight get you excited about Imax?
JF: I would love to do some Imax stuff. I think that's going to be a game changer. I would love to do some of it on Imax for Imax. It's all a matter of dollars and cents for them. I would also love to do three-d…for this one. I would love to do three-d because just think of the HUD. Just think of that virtual space and what that would be like, the layers and what you could get away with and how much fun it could be. [PAGEBREAK]
HW: You don't have The Mandarin in Iron Man, but you referenced him and so it's like you can get that fantastical stuff in there with that character if you wanted it, right?
JF: It is. The Mandarin is such a tricky character for us because everywhere you turn it's a minefield. So we get into the mystical Asian dark arts and inter-dimensional travel and all the rings that do the different things and psychic abilities and stuff and it's like, 'That could be cool. Maybe it's cool. Maybe if we make it really authentic.' Then you see the trailer for The Mummy movie and it's like they've got The Manderin and Fing Fang Foom in there. And they shot in China and it's like as authentic as you're ever going to get. It's like, 'Ooh, I don't know if that fits our film.' It was great for The Mummy though. So where do you go with it?
HW: You’ve hinted at using The Mandarin in the third film.
JF: Yeah, The Mandarin is still the guy. He's the main guy, but we always remind ourselves that nobody like The Emperor compared to Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies. He's got the same lightening bolts, but when The Emperor was this figure that you just saw obliquely it was like, 'Shit, Darth Vader is bowing to someone? That guy must be really cool.' But then as he talked more it was like, 'Alright, enough.' In The Clone Wars II he was like a sidekick. So it's really all how you treat the person and that's what informs what it's going to be. So The Mandarin, to have that kind of weight to him is really a matter of using all the narrative tricks to do it, but a dude running and jumping around in robes shooting these beams and rays that have powers that really, if you take them literally, would throw off the balance of the whole universe. So how do you do that and keep the whole thing together, but yet fulfill the expectations from the book? We do have him and I think it's something where I feel a little bit goes a long way. [PAGEBREAK]
HW: How has Marvel's plan to integrate their universe in films changed your plan, going from a franchise to a mega-franchise?
JF: It's tough because it first starts off like, 'Hey, wouldn't it be fun if we stuck a Captain America shield in the background? Wouldn't it be fun if we have Sam Jackson play Nick Fury like in The Ultimate Avengers?' Its like, 'Let’s prove ourselves to our fans.' So you do that. Now, between the Captain America shield and Nick Fury and then the after the credit scene that in the eleventh hour became the final scene of The Hulk, that one was a big one for me. I was like, 'Wow, we're forming a team. We're going to that guy and you're forming a team.' That's clearly not the day after Iron Man ended. Where does it fit in the time continuum? I don't want to just ignore it or do what the comic books have done. I guess you could do what Marvel has said, 'It's an alternate universe.' They've gotten away with that one for a couple of decades, but how do you make all that work within that world because I think it is fun and I think that Hulk was successful in keeping a tone that did not seem inconsistent with our film and certainly with Robert being in there. But we definitely now have a lot of things [to consider]…Then there are conversations that I've been having with them about The Avengers too. Remember, with Avengers you're not just dealing with tech. You're dealing with inter-dimensional portals and all the shit that makes you jump the shark if you don't handle it right. So we were very restrained in how we used our superhero-ism in our movie and we did that by keeping it all tech based.
HW: Are you logistically concerned with having huge stars and huge characters that if this combination of universes happens that they'll have to share screen time and that all that business might get in the way of the storytelling?
JF: That's sort of the danger isn't it. Forget about creatively, but just from a perspective of finances, but somehow they make Ocean's Eleven. So there are clearly business models and I think that it has more to do if people are enthusiastic and feel like they're going to be in a movie that they'll be proud of. The truth is that most stars of that level would love to be in a movie where they're not everyday on the call sheet and they're not the only one carrying the burden for the press junket. [PAGEBREAK]
HW: There have been rumors of 'War Machine' as a sequel. Can you talk about that?
JF: I want to do it. We're drawing War Machine. We're figuring it out. We're talking to Terrence [Howard]. We're seeing if he can take some time out of his new life as a musician to be War Machine, to do it…War Machine is fun and again you look for ways to up the ante. It's tough to up the ante on the villain side without going into strange territories, but what we can do is really have a lot of fun with our family, our main characters and that includes myself. I expect to have more to do in this one or I will walk [Laughs]. We certainly have Rhodey and Gwyneth [Paltrow]…I thought that she had great chemistry with Robert. Of course we'll see more of Robert and then we'll see how that basic group of four people moves forward towards the inevitable 'Avengers' that's coming and how The Mandarin, how largely he looms in this next one. These are the types of things that we're doing, but mostly from a perspective of tone, mostly from a perspective of…it's like sitting around and making a mix tape. Remember those? I guess it's a play list now, but you would make a mix tape for your friend and you'd sit there and go, 'Oh, this song. This will get the party going.' I liked to DJ. I've started DJ'ing. I actually just DJ'd Robert's son party. That was a favorite and of course I like all old rap music and stuff, all the things that I wished I could DJ when I was younger and now I get to do all of it. You know how people get Porsche's? I got turntables. That's my midlife crisis and I'm really nervous to play his son's party and whether the 15 year old is going to think I'm cool, but it is like that. You want to get the party going. There's a feeling that if you have a mix tape that your friends go, 'Oh, give us the mix tape because the party is going good –' and you pop it in and play it again, there's a buzz that I get off of that.
HW: Why do you think people are so into superhero movies right now?
JF: I think 9/11. I think that, interestingly enough today we're meeting, but I think that was a game changer. I think people were looking for emotional simplicity, escapism and if you look at it, there were superhero movies before. Spider-Man, but that first Spider Man was hitting right, I think, in May of 2002 when it was the first way that we could get to those emotions because you couldn't say anything about politics. You couldn't say anything about war. People just didn't want to deal with it, but you put people in a costume and say, 'This is the good guy. This is the bad guy –' and you either set in a fantasy world like Lord of the Rings or in the Marvel Universe, you all of a sudden allow people like kids and adults to experience those emotions in a way where they dealing with very real emotions in a very escapist way. [PAGEBREAK]
HW: You really reached out to the fans on this film, but at the same time there was a lot of stuff that leaked that you didn't want out there. How are you going to deal with that this time around?
JF: We're not. I think that it worked out. You don't care if someone leaks something or if someone knows something. You care about whether it hurts the movie. So, Marvel knows that if you're getting to the point where something is probably going to get leaked soon you release a photo and steal the thunder.