Set Visit: Iron Man 2
With all the hubbub going on these past few days about how freakin’ cool Comic-Con was this year, I’m excited to fill you guys in a little bit more on a certain flick called IRON MAN 2. First off, I did not get into Hall H to see the footage that the stupendously cool Ammon Gilbert called “AWESOME!”. Frankly, judging from the word of mouth, I think there will be a lot to love when we finally see what Marvel and Jon Favreau have come up with for a second helping of kick ass. The first film featured a top-notch cast and this trend continues with returning favorites, Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow, plus a few interesting additions including Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell with Don Cheadle taking over Terrence Howard’s Rhodes.
So no, I didn’t see the panel, and I didn’t see that giant donut, but last June I did get the chance to hang out on the set of the film and speak with Jon Favreau, Kevin Feige and Robert Downey Jr. As this was a very top secret set visit, you won’t be able to read the entire interviews just yet due to what they call an embargo. But what I did see I can briefly share with you here. I can tell you that Jon Favreau told us back then that he wouldn’t go to Comic-Con if he couldn’t show you something really amazing. Mr. Gilbert seems to think he did, and judging from the standing ovation that took place, I suspect many others agreed as well. I can also tell you a little about the visit and give you just a glimpse of the scene we saw that cloudy day in June.
First off, when we arrived at Marvel Studios, we were brought in to meet with Mr. Feige who opened up about what all we can expect from Marvel in the next few years. With the success of Iron Man and the excitement brewing for THE AVENGERS, it is safe to say that Marvel doesn’t plan on slowing down just yet. We asked about IRON MAN and all the others in a fairly detailed interview. Kevin was very excited about this latest feature and with its almost assured success, I would be surprised if we don’t hear about a ton of other projects in the works. In other words, you have to wait for the you know what…
After speaking with Kevin, this motley gang of on-line peeps went into the soundstage where we could hear those lovely behind the scenes happenings happen. While we didn’t get a really good glimpse at first, we were treated to the beginning of a very informative chat with Jon. The thing about this particular visit was the sheer excitement and genuine coolness of Mr. Favreau. He was absolutely thrilled to have us there. He stopped to talk to us several times throughout the day and explain the nature of the scene and other stories of interest. He opened the conversation up about some of the visual effects in the movie, one which was used briefly in the original, will become a much larger part of the picture this time around. The use of holographs for Tony Stark to see what is happening and where it is taking place. And while Favreau is diving a little deeper into CGI territory this time around, he still places quite a bit on practical effects.
Jon also spoke on how much Howard Stark would play a part of this new chapter of Iron Man. Some of the mysteries involved in the script seem to revolve around the fictional 1974 Stark Expo. But believe you me, I have no idea what the mysteries are, and what “Key” Tony is searching for. In regards to the casting of the elder Stark, “We have John Slatery playing him this time around. So he is somebody who has passed away by the time the movie begins, but he’s definitely a presence as Robert delves into his past and explores the relationship with his dad who we started to make certain overtures towards in the press conference.” He wouldn’t give too much away about how often this character comes up. I have a feeling he may be spread throughout, but I guess we shall have to wait and see on that one.
The real fun came soon as we were brought over to a where the monitors were, and given the chance to check out what was keeping Mr. Downey Jr. so busy. We could see a giant replica of the ‘74 Stark Expo, and Robert staring into it looking for “the key”. The scene itself only included Tony Stark and had him searching for something with the help of his computer Jarvis (a guy speaking into a microphone). What we will eventually see is the holographs in clear sight as Stark searches for an answer to what ever riddle which needs answering. What was fascinating about this, is that it really isn’t a terribly exciting thing to watch with all the bells and whistles normally. All it is, is one man talking to himself (the computer) and asking himself “where?”. But this is Robert Downey Jr. and he is most certainly fascinating to watch work.
Once they were taking a break from filming, we were allowed to go into Stark’s “work area”. While I will save more of this for later, I must mention that there is quite the difference between this and the first film. The hall of suits includes all the Iron Man attire that Downey has created. It actually reminded me of Batman for some reason. Perhaps because they are displayed so beautifully, but it was a really terrific experience to see these glorious costumes up-close and personal. Apparently Tony Stark wants to keep every single Iron Man outfit available and on display.
The floor of this particular set was very sensitive. To walk on it, we were asked to put on booties so we wouldn’t scratch up the floor. I’m amazed at how tidy and clean Tony Stark seems to be. Everything was organized and just looked clean. There are a whole set of new toys that fill his work area and while I will go into more detail down the road, I was very impressed at the level of care that went into the upkeep of this set. All of which surrounded this amazing model which is a actually based on the 1964 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadow Park. This little workspace is very impressive, even for Stark. And while I would’ve liked to see possibly Mickey Rourke or even Scarlett… wait a second… I guess now would be a good time to talk about the little surprise we all had in store.
Word was that while we were visiting, Mrs. Johansson was around with second unit. But we wouldn’t be seeing her, and that was that. But Jon is the kind of director that wants you to feel welcome, and that is exactly what he did when he offered us the chance to see the Black Widow in person. Keep in mind, this was a huge secret at the time and we were asked to leave all recording devices behind and not tell a soul what we were about to witness. We did just that and next thing you know, we were on our way to another part of Marvel. Now before I go further, I have to explain to you that when you do a set visit, you are privy to a whole lot of information that they are not ready to share. In this case, Scarlett had not been seen in costume by outsiders and there was a lot of speculation to her look. So the fact that we were given this opportunity was a big deal. In fact, it was a huge deal.
The cool thing about Scarlett is that we were told that we wouldn’t get the chance to speak with her, yet she didn‘t seem to mind us being there. Once we arrived, she walked over in that costume, which I personally dig, and said hello. While there was no interview or anything like that, we did manage to chat with her a little bit about the costume. Apparently it is pretty comfortable. And man oh man, she looked damn stunning up close and personal. At this point, we were happy as clams and things only seemed to get better once we arrived back at Stark’s workstation and finally got to talk with Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. together.
At this point, we have until May 7th, 2010 to see what the key is and how badass IRON MAN 2 will be. And yes, in between now and then, we will be following closely on the wide world of Tony Stark. Part of that will be a full report on the set visit and all the goodness that we gained from it. As I mentioned, you will be able to read the full interviews with Feige, Downey Jr. and of course, the welcoming Jon Favreau. But I will leave you with this, when the first movie surprised everyone and ended up being the powerhouse it was, it was only reasonable that a sequel was not too far along. Now that number two is finished shooting and ready for post-production, it looks as if the powers that be are very confidant that this will quite possibly be everything and more of what made part one work as well as it did.
Before we run, we also have a brand new pic from IRON MAN 2 that we've been allowed to bring you today. Check it out below and you can click on it to see a larger version.
To be continued… once the embargo has lifted.