THAT'S (MARVEL) ENTERTAINMENT READ MORE ABOUT IRON MAN 2
With a library of over 5,000 characters, Marvel Entertainment, Inc. is one of the world's most prominent character-based entertainment companies. Marvel's operations are focused on utilizing its character franchises in licensing, entertainment, publishing and toys. Marvel Entertainment's areas of emphasis include feature films, DVD/home video, consumer products, video games, action figures and role-playing toys, television and promotions. Rooted in the creative success of over sixty years of comic book publishing, Marvel has successfully transformed its cornerstone comic book characters into blockbuster film franchises.
Marvel Studios' Hollywood renaissance has been nothing short of spectacular, with record-breaking franchises such as "Spider-Man," "X-Men" and "The Fantastic Four," resulting in a string of eight consecutive #1 box office openings. Since 1998, Marvel films have grossed over $4.9 billion worldwide at the box office, firmly establishing itself as one of the top entertainment brands in Hollywood.
David Maisel, Chairman of Marvel Studios, explains why Marvel has been so successful in adapting its comic book characters to the silver screen. "Our films are as much about the man as the superhero. We cast great actors who will appeal to both kids and adults. We set our films up to appeal to everyone."
"Over the past seven or eight years we have had great luck in combining unique and original talent with our spectacular world-renowned characters," adds "Iron Man" producer and Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige. "We've been very fortunate that with the Marvel brand, we have been able to attract talented filmmakers as well as the best technicians, visual effect supervisors, cinematographers and visual effects companies in the world, which has resulted, we believe, in the best kind of genre mega-event summer pictures out there."
In 2007, Maisel spearheaded Marvel's announcement to self-finance a slate of ten films which would begin with the 2008 releases of "Iron Man" and "The Hulk," as well as the development of such titles as "Captain America," "Thor" and "Ant Man."
One of the original Marvel Comics, Iron Man has enjoyed a long and prosperous run dating back to the characters' first appearance in the Marvel comic Tales of Suspense in April 1963. Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby, Iron Man's alter ego Tony Stark was inspired partly by the personality of the late American icon Howard Hughes.
"Howard Hughes was one of the most colorful men of our time," says executive producer Stan Lee. "He was an inventor, an adventurer, a multi-millionaire, a ladies' man and, finally, a nutcase."
Lee continues, "What triggered me to create a character like Iron Man was that I wanted to do something different than the usual super hero. In 1963, Iron Man was all the things that young readers in those days didn't really care for: he was an industrialist and created war machines. I thought to myself, I'm going to make these kids like him by making Tony Stark a rich, glamorous, handsome, interesting guy. I also gave him a weak heart so that he would have one thing about him that made him less-than-perfect and would also give the readers something to worry about. The response to the character was amazing and, of all the Marvel characters, Iron Man received more fan mail from female readers than any other property. People of all ages connected to the human side of the character."
A unique and vastly popular character in the Marvel universe, Iron Man is the only self-made superhero whose superhuman strength and abilities come from the powered suits of armor created from the genius mind of Tony Stark.
"In the comic book world, Iron Man stands proudly alongside Spider-Man, The X-Men and The Fantastic Four," says producer Kevin Feige. "It's been that way for decades and Iron Man really connected to readers because he's not a mutant, he wasn't transformed at a biological level and wasn't bitten by any sort of genetic insect. He simply is a man who has used his genius to build an armored suit, which is essentially the greatest piece of human ingenuity ever invented."
It was the superhero's decidedly flawed character and flashy playboy lifestyle that made the Iron Man comic ripe to be the next Marvel franchise and first film under the company's new Marvel Studios banner.
"Iron Man is an interesting character for us," adds producer Avi Arad. "We've done superpowers very well with 'Spider-Man' and the 'X-Men,' but what makes the property so adaptable for a movie franchise is that it's a story that deals with social issues and the world we live in today. It's about redemption and a man who has a hero in him, but it takes a set of dire circumstances to bring that out."
"Marvel has a terrific history of successfully bringing comic book characters to life, and Iron Man is the next logical step," injects executive producer Peter Billingsley. "It's Marvel's first venture into fully financing a film and they have invested a lot of time and care developing this potential franchise. The title has been around for a long time. It has a rich history with 40 years worth of story lines to explore."
FAVREAU AT THE HELM
Marvel was faced with the challenge of finding a director who could not only handle the technical aspects of executing a large-scale action film, but more importantly could infuse the story with the human element that so dominated the comic book characters. For the creative team at Marvel, the potential list of directors began and ended with Jon Favreau, who had previously directed the films "Made," the blockbuster comedy "Elf" and the critically acclaimed sci-fi adventure "Zathura."
"We got to know Jon when he played Foggy in 'Daredevil,'" recalls Avi Arad. "I liked all the movies he directed, but I was most impressed with 'Zathura.' So many of my friend's kids saw that film five or six times and I kept hearing how much they loved it. Jon is a great storyteller and smart filmmaker with a deep love and appreciation for the Marvel brand and Iron Man character.
"Also," Arad continues, "to pull this film off we really needed a director who was tuned in to what was going on in the world today, both politically and socially. Jon possessed all of these characteristics."
For producer Kevin Feige, Favreau fit perfectly into the stable of great storytellers who made the leap to action blockbusters courtesy of Marvel Films. "Jon fits the mold exactly of the kind of director we like to hire for our films. He's done great movies in the past, but this one has the biggest canvas by far. When you have a filmmaker who has the vision and the passion like Jon does, and can bring his unique sense of character to this grand spectacle, you know you'll end up with a Marvel movie that is a cut above the rest."
For Favreau, the chance to create a new superhero for the screen was one that he couldn't pass up. "I grew up reading Marvel Comics," he says. "It's an exciting challenge to direct 'Iron Man' because he's the biggest character in the original pantheon of the Marvel universe who has never had a movie made about him. I come from the independent film world, and what I like to think I bring to the table is the ability to tell a story in a simple, relatable way that brings out the humor in situations, as well as the humanity of the characters. One of the great assets of Marvel Comics is that the heroes are very human and flawed. Marvel began when the iconography of the superhero was larger-than-life. They were usually flawless paradigms of integrity. But Marvel changed the landscape by creating superheroes with their own shortcomings and a recognizable humanity that is enjoyable and interesting to explore."
For executive producer Billingsley, a longtime friend and colleague of Favreau's who has served as a co-producer on "Made" and "Zathura," adapting "Iron Man" played into all the director's filmmaking strengths. "Jon came aboard on 'Iron Man' while the script was being developed. Since the Iron Man comic books offer such a vast amount of plots and storylines, it's easy to get lost among the myriad of options available," observes Billingsley. "But in all the previous films Jon has written and directed there is one common denominator - strong, compelling storytelling."
With Favreau signed onto the project a year before principal photography was to begin, the director began the long and arduous task of guiding the development of a screenplay based on a Marvel character who had been in existence for over 40 years, with a wealth of available stories from the more than 600 issues published over the years.
"What separates 'Iron Man' from a lot of the other superhero films is that there is just as much emphasis on story as there is on action," notes Billingsley. "Jon was given the responsibility of coming up with the best notion of what the story would entail and he really carried the burden of birthing this comic book franchise into a film franchise."
Screenwriters Art Marcum & Matt Holloway worked with Favreau in hammering out the first few drafts of the script, with Academy Award®-nominated screenwriters Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby brought on later for subsequent drafts. From the start, the filmmakers agreed that the film would concentrate on the origin of Iron Man.
"The birth of a hero is something that is highly enjoyable for audiences to watch," says producer Feige. "You don't want to delay that too long into the story. The development of a superhero has provided some of the most memorable moments in any of our previous films. 'Iron Man' is no exception."
"When you're creating the origin story of a superhero, you have certain critical responsibilities, one of which is showing how the hero came to be," adds director Favreau. "This can be a burden, but it also gives a filmmaker the opportunity to allow the audience to become the hero alongside the main character. I personally have the most fun as a viewer when I witness the learning curve of the superhero."
Favreau continues: "When we were developing the script and coming up with ideas for the structure of the story, there was a natural tendency to want to get the character right into action with the suit and to fight but, for me, the more engaged you are in the story, the more interested you will eventually be in those set pieces and the more gratifying those sequences will be to the audience. In writing the script, we made sure to spend time with the character as he is discovering the technology, refining the suit and learning how to use it."
Another task for the filmmakers was updating the origin story to the present day. In the origin story of the Marvel comic, Tony Stark was an anti-communist hero who was shot down and captured while visiting Vietnam to observe his new mini-transistors that were being used to assist the U.S. war effort.
"The origin story had to be redeveloped to reflect new technology and the changes in the political, social and economic landscapes in the world today," says Favreau. "What Stan Lee wrote as science-fiction back in the 1960s is currently modern science. We have become so advanced in our technology that things you can buy in a drugstore now would have been the subject matter for a sci-fi film back in the days when Iron Man first entered the Marvel universe. The character of Tony Stark was a larger-than-life character with a conflicted nature who finds his true purpose when he becomes Iron Man. We wanted to keep the basic origin story structure, but tweak it so that it reflected the present day."
For the writing team of Fergus & Ostby - Academy Award® nominees for best adapted screenplay for "Children of Men" - one of the challenges in developing the screenplay was that, although the character of Iron Man had legions of fans in the comic book world, the property had not crossed over into mainstream pop culture, and required a story that would satisfy hardcore genre fans as well as audiences who had never been exposed to the character.
Fergus found his moment of clarity in the writing process courtesy of Favreau and Billingsley. "Early on in one of the writing meetings with Jon and Peter, we sat down and just asked, 'If we had to boil this movie down to one sentence what would that be?'" recalls Fergus. "After a few deliberations we came up with 'Iron Man' is a story about a man who finds his heart.' The idea behind a movie should always be something you can really boil down to a singular theme that is easy to understand. When you break down the character of Tony Stark, he really is a man who learns to feel and connect and to accept responsibility for his role in the world."
"Tony Stark is a good-looking, charming guy who enjoys fast cars, big parties and beautiful women," says producer Arad. "He is also an extremely brilliant scientist, inventor and weapons manufacturer. He is having way too much fun living his James Bond-like lifestyle to consider that what he does actually has profound global implications."
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
((Director/Executive Producer) JON FAVREAU is a true multi-hyphenate. After getting his break as an actor in "Rudy," Favreau went on to establish himself as a writer of considerable talent with the acclaimed hipster comedy "Swingers." Since then, he has continued to challenge himself with a variety of eclectic projects.
Prior to "Iron Man," Favreau directed "Zathura," a children's adventure film starring Tim Robbins, for Radar Pictures and Sony Entertainment. In 2003, Favreau directed the acclaimed holiday smash hit "Elf" starring Will Ferrell, for New Line Cinema. Favreau made his feature film directorial debut with "Made," a script he wrote and starred in opposite Vince Vaughn and Sean "Puffy" Combs for Artisan Entertainment.
In front of the camera, Favreau was most recently seen opposite Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston in Universal Pictures' "The Break-Up." He next appears in "Four Christmases" opposite Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, which will be released on November 14, 2008. Favreau was also seen alongside Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany in Universal Pictures' "Wimbledon," in Sony Pictures Entertainment's "Something's Gotta Give," and in the Mark Steven Johnson film "Daredevil" with Ben Affleck, an adaptation of the Marvel Comics franchise for 20th Century Fox-Regency Enterprises. He also portrayed legendary heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano in the MGM biopic "Rocky Marciano."
Favreau's other feature film credits include "Love and Sex" opposite Famke Janssen, "The Replacements" with Keanu Reeves, "Very Bad Things" opposite Christian Slater and Cameron Diaz, and "Deep Impact" with Robert Duvall, Morgan Freeman and Vanessa Redgrave.
Favreau's television credits include a recurring role on "Friends" and a special appearance on HBO's critically acclaimed "The Sopranos," playing himself. Favreau also added the title of show runner to his multi-hyphenate list of credits as the creator, producer and host of the critically acclaimed and Emmy-nominated IFC series "Dinner for Five."
MARK FERGUS & HAWK OSTBY (Screenplay by) have collaborated on more than a dozen scripts over the past decade, including their Oscar®-nominated adaptation of P.D. James' novel "Children of Men" (along with Alfonso Cuarón, David Arata and Timothy J. Sexton) and the thriller "Consequence," for HBO Pictures. Fergus made his directing debut with his and Ostby's original screenplay "First Snow," a psychological thriller starring Guy Pearce, Piper Perabo, William Fichtner and J.K. Simmons.
ART MARCUM & MATT HOLLOWAY (Screenplay by) began to work as a writing team in Los Angeles. They made their first sale - a pitch to Disney's Touchstone Pictures - in late 2001. Subsequently, they have worked for Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. and DreamWorks, as well as CBS and Fox television. "Iron Man" is Marcum and Holloway's first major motion picture to be produced, and will be followed by the upcoming "Punisher: War Zone," directed by Lexi Alexander.
The son of a political science professor, Marcum was raised in Santa Cruz, California, but influenced by the wider world. Regular dinner guests at home included African revolutionaries, novelists, poets and filmmakers. He spent many years living overseas in both France and South America and is a graduate of Stanford University. After college, Marcum worked briefly in television news in Washington, D.C. before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film.
Holloway grew up in the Philadelphia area. After completing Stanford University's undergraduate creative writing program, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a film writing career. Holloway worked many production jobs after college on movie sets as varied as James Cameron's "Titanic" and Doug Liman's "Go."
STAN LEE (Executive Producer) is currently the chairman and chief creative officer POW! Entertainment. The company was founded in 2001 and has over 40 movies, TV, DVD, video game and other projects in various stages of development.
Also the chairman emeritus of Marvel Comics, Lee is known to millions as the man whose superheroes propelled Marvel to its preeminent position in the comic book industry. Hundreds of legendary characters, including Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Daredevil, The Avengers, The Silver Surfer, Thor and Dr. Strange, all grew out of his fertile imagination.
Lee served as executive producer for Columbia's worldwide blockbusters "Spider-Man," "Spider-Man 2" and "Spider-Man 3," all directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Lee executive-produced the global hit "Ghost Rider," which took in over $200 million worldwide. Lee also executive-produced "X-Men: The Last Stand" after executive-producing the first two smash "X-Men" films. He also served as executive producer of "The Fantastic Four," "Hulk," "Elektra," "Daredevil" and the "Blade" trilogy.
In the early 1960s, Lee ushered in what has come to be known as "The Marvel Age of Comics," creating major new superheroes while breathing life and style into such old favorites as Captain America, The Human Torch and The Sub Mariner.
During his first 25 years at Marvel as editor, art director and head writer, Lee scripted no fewer than two and as many as five complete comic books per week. His prodigious output may comprise the largest body of published work by any single writer. Additionally, he wrote newspaper features, radio and television scripts and screenplays.
By the time he was named publisher of Marvel Comics in 1972, Lee's comics were the nation's biggest sellers. In 1977, he brought the Spider-Man character to newspapers in the form of a syndicated strip. This seven-days-a-week feature, which he has written and edited since its inception, is the most successful of all syndicated adventure strips, appearing in more than 500 newspapers worldwide.
In 1981, Marvel launched an animation studio on the West Coast and Lee moved to Los Angeles to become creative head of Marvel's cinematic adventures. He began to transform his Spider-Man and Hulk creations into Saturday morning television and paved the way for Marvel's entry into live-action feature films.
Under the umbrella of his new company POW! (Purveyors of Wonder!) Entertainment, Inc., Lee is creating and executive producing an animated "Stan Lee Presents" DVD series, with the first two released in 2007: "Mosaic" and "The Condor." Lee's television credits with POW! include serving as executive producer and star on NBC's sci-fi hit reality series "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" seasons one and two, and as co-producer and creator of "Stripperella" on the Spike cable channel, in addition to previously executive-producing "Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.," "The Incredible Hulk," "Spider-Man" and "X-Men."
Lee has written more than a dozen best-selling books, including Stan Lee's Superhero Christmas, The Origins of Marvel Comics, The Best of the Worst, The Silver Surfer, How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, The Alien Factor, Bring on the Bad Guys, Riftworld, The Superhero Women and his recent autobiography Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee.
READ MORE ABOUT THE CASTING PROCESS & FILMING IRON MAN
READ MORE: BUILDING IRON MAN & SHOOTING ON LOCATION
READ MORE: BUILDING AND DESIGNING THE SPECTACULAR SETS
READ MORE: CREATING THE VISUAL EFFECTS
THE ART OF ADAPTATION READ MORE ABOUT IRON MAN 2