SAN DIEGO — How do you top a movie that took a lesser-known character from the Marvel Comics universe and turned him into the most badass big-screen superhero to date? That’s the dilemma faced by director Jon Favreau, whose 2008 movie turned Robert Downey Jr. into billionaire playboy Tony Stark, the man inside the Iron Man armor.
Favreau’s strategy: Bring in more top-shelf actors to play a handful of new characters, and bring kick-ass footage to show at Comic-Con International in an attempt to wow the world’s biggest fans for a second time.
“It all started here,” Favreau told the packed house during Saturday’s panel in the San Diego Convention Center’s mammoth Hall H. “Nobody cared before you guys did.” Two years prior, the original panel kicked Comic-Con’s ass with a rocking presentation that set the stage for the movie’s $318 million U.S. box office blitz and proved the annual pop-culture convention’s power to Hollywood.
It looks like Favreau and crew have pulled it off by staying true to the first movie’s intoxicating tone, achieved by mixing killer visuals and a smart-ass vibe with solid acting, punchy dialogue and just the right amount of heavy metal music. In keeping with the original ’s wicked sense of humor, Favreau kicked off the presentation by playing a supercheesy trailer that could have left the unsuspecting a little shell-shocked.
“What was that?” Downey asked in mock incredulity as he walked onstage, taking Favreau to task and calling the footage “unadulterated garbage.”
“This is bullshit, dude,” Downey said, as the crowd roared.
Then, after Downey led the 6,000-plus fans in the audience in singing “Happy Birthday” to Favreau’s 8-year-old son, Max, the real footage screened and fans got what they waited so long for: five minutes of souped-up action and attitude that seemed like the perfect extension of the original movie.
Here’s what they saw:
- The first scene was a shot of Tony Stark in his Iron Man suit but with his helmet off, looking a little the worse for wear and taking a break in the middle of a giant doughnut sign atop a diner. Samuel Jackson, who plays SHIELD’s Nick Fury, looks up at Stark and calls him down for a powwow inside the coffee shop.
- A scene where Tony Stark appears before a Senate committee showed the supremely confident superhero giving an exasperated lawmaker lots of lip. The senator, played by Garry Shandling, wants Tony to hand over his “Iron Man weapon,” but the wise-ass former weapons dealer cracks wise and plays to the crowd. “I’m your nuclear deterrent,” he says, standing to flash peace signs at the audience in the hearing room. “I have successfully privatized national defense.”
- Shots of Russian bad guy Ivan Vanko (played by Mickey Rourke) hammering away on metal to make his Whiplash suit while a Tool song plays in the background, a brilliant soundtracking choice that with any luck will s