The Road To AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Part III: Jon Favreau’s IRON MAN 2

After Iron Man's success, Marvel Studios struck while the iron was hot and begun developing the follow-up film immediately - the first sequel ever made for the young studio and the last for Jon Favreau...

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Jon Favreau’s Iron Man achieved almost everything a blockbuster possibly can. It became the second biggest hit of 2008 domestically, restarted Robert Downey Jr.'s career and set up the appropriate tone for the ambitious, but still very young, universe. Yet before Iron Man 2 hit the theatres, Marvel Entertainment had to face a buyout, hard negotiations with actors and the rage of comic fans.

Let's start the third chapter of our road to Avengers: Infinity War with a quick recap of the turbulent love-hate relationship between Marvel Studios, Jon Favreau and an unstoppable, angry war machine...



The unexpected news broke on October 14, 2008, five months after the theatrical release of Iron Man. The Hollywood Reporter announced that Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow, Empire) who played Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes in the first movie would not return for the sequel and furthermore was replaced by Don Cheadle (Crash, Hotel Rwanda). For Howard, it was the end of a dream about putting on the War Machine suit. Marvel Studios decided that for him, “next time, baby” would never happen.

The company had no comment, but sources close to the deal said that the negotiations with Howard fell through over financial differences, among other reasons. Marvel Studios apparently wanted to work again with Howard, but then decided to take the role in another direction and approached Cheadle, who was shooting Antoine Fuqua's Brooklyn's Finest at the time.

It wasn’t the last time Marvel Studios replaced an established actor. In 2010, the same trick was announced at San Diego Comic Con when Mark Ruffalo officially replaced Edward Norton as the incredible Hulk in the upcoming Avengers movie and feasible future projects.

Five days after the recasting was announced, Terrence told NPR radio that he was shocked when he heard the news: "It was the surprise of a lifetime. There was no explanation. I read something in the trades that implicated it was about money or something but apparently the contracts that we write and sign aren't worth the paper that they're printed on. And promises aren't kept. Good faith negotiations aren't always held up. You know, even friendships, people that you support...


Shortly after The Hollywood Reporter’s news, Marvel sent out a press release officially announcing a finalized agreement with award-winning actor Don Cheadle to take on the role of Rhodes in Iron Man 2, The Avengers and subsequent installments of the Iron Man franchise. "We are very excited about working with the extraordinarily talented Don Cheadle as we expand the role of Rhodey in 'Iron Man 2.' It has already become apparent as we prep the movie for production, that the dynamic between Robert and Don will take 'Iron Man 2' to new heights," said Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios.

Entertainment Weekly ended October with a detailed report about Howard’s departure. The article says that "Favreau and his producers were ultimately unhappy with Howard's performance [in the first Iron Man], and spent a lot of time cutting and reshooting his scenes." According to EW’s source, Howard was privileged while shooting the first movie, because he was the first to sign on a lucrative deal, earning more that Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr. Due to the rushed way the movie has been created, there was no time to renegotiate the contracts and Howard ended up as the best paid actor, despite having a much smaller role than Bridges, not to mention, Downey Jr.

When it came to Iron Man 2, Marvel Studios offered Howard a drastically reduced payday, possibly as much as 80% less that what he would made for the first movie. Terrence rejected the offer, as Marvel knew he would and went straight to Cheadle who was already interested in portraying the character.

The source also stated that in order to make the negotiations easier, director Favreau and screenwriter Theroux minimized Rhodes’ role in the sequel, but after securing Cheadle, they beefed up his role.

Robert Downey Jr. naturally had a few words to say about the situation. Asked by MTV if he had anything to do with the unfortunate situation, Downey Jr. responded, “I had nothing to do with that decision. I love Terrence very, very much. That’s all I’ll say because I haven’t talked to him yet.”


The actor made clear that he will not play favorites between the two actors, “I’ve always admired Don [Cheadle],” said Downey. “It’s one of those situations where I still don’t quite know what happened or why. Here’s what happens too: things happen and you wind up commenting on them before you’ve actually talked to the people and it’s in poor taste.

Half a year later, the ex-War Machine stopped sugar coating his feelings on being replaced by Cheadle and called Marvel’s decision “a very bad choice” while speaking with MSNBC. “They didn't keep their word. They didn't honor our contract,” Howard said. “They sent everyone out into a field and told them to work and produce a great bounty. You produce a great bounty, and then when it's all in the storehouse, you are not allowed into the storehouse."

Cheadle revealed The Hollywood Reporter how it was like to replace Howard and apparently both actors didn’t hold any grudges against each other: “I got a call out of the blu saying, "Do you want this part? Terrence isn't doing it." I said, "You're not firing him for me?" and they said, "We're not-he's out of it". After I accepted, I saw Terrence and he said, "I know you don't know what went on because I didn't know what was going on!" Terrence is my boy, I've known him for a long time-it's all good. I imagine there'll be a fair amount of people who want to see Terrence again”.

Howard responded to Cheadle's words in a kindly manner and ensured the fans that he and Cheadle are still pals and Marvel’s decision didn’t change a thing in their relationship, "I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the movie. I want to see Don Cheadle become me. No, I want him to do better than me," Howard said. "That's what I really want to see. Don Cheadle was the reason I got 'Crash,' so I have a lot of love for him."


Still annoyed Howard decided to talk about the replacement once again and told E!Online that he’s seen the script for Iron Man 2, but he won’t reveal anything. “I believe in karma," he said. "When someone does something wrong, you don't have to get them back. Everything right will return the favor for you." That’s quite an accurate prophecy.

Right before the theatrical release of Iron Man 2, Howard gave E!Online another interview and said that he recommended Robert Downey Jr. to Marvel for the role of Tony Stark. "For me to have recommended him, it means all the more so that I helped someone get to where they are supposed to go," the Crash star continued. "Marvel and I are now talking about doing some other things. And Don Cheadle wanted to play that part before I wanted to play it, so everything is very well." The actor quite shockingly changed his tune also said that their split was “wonderful”. We never learned what the secret project Howard was apparently working with Marvel on was.

In 2011, Howard reflected once again on being fired from the Iron Man series in a discussion with Toronto Sun. “Iron Man and everything that happened with them taught me to not take anything personally." Howard still (understandably) felt that Marvel cheated him, "You put your heart in everything and you do good by people and you don't have that returned to you. You do a three-picture deal with someone and they come to you after making 700, 800 million dollars and say, 'We think the second one will be successful with or without you, so instead of the eight million we owe you, we're going to give you one million and give you a half-hour to make a decision. I just wanted what was in my contract."


Two years later, Desde Hollywood asked Howard about his thoughts on being fired by Marvel Studios. Here’s his extensive and pretty well-thought answer:

"It's similar to what happens with my character in this movie: He had lost a lot. Thought he was maintaining and holding his ground. All the things he was building his future on was not going to sustain him. Unfortunately he went after and tried to seek his own revenge. I had a decision to make. I could have sought revenge against Marvel and all. But I learned something in life. You know? That everything is controlled by this wave particle theory. Often times when we are moving up in this wave field we are looking up. But the moment that we are reaching the descent we are still looking up. Guess what: we are falling. But if you turn and orient yourself in the direction that you are going in, you will gain momentum and a great deal of inertia so you reflect off the valley and you miss the next two or three downward falls. I love the fact that Iron Man put me on a world stage and tested my strength of character. Because I chose not to fight back, not to deal with the allegations, but to continue forward and do what I had to do. I had to start all over: went from making $6 million a movie, back to $60 thousand a movie. But as long as you don't give up you are able... I'll make $20 million soon. Because I have learned the lessons of yesterday."

Howard finally decided to give away specific details about his argument with Marvel a month before the release of Iron Man 3 in 2013. “It was about $4.5 million [for the first film]. The second time, [Marvel] said ‘We think the movie will be successful with or without you. So, instead of the $8 million that we said we were gonna pay you, we’re going to let you come back for a million dollars.’ We did a three-picture deal already, so it wasn’t even negotiated. But I was like ‘nah, we’re good’! I didn’t know it wasn’t a mutually binding contract; it was only beneficial for them and they could bring me back or not. [Overall] they made a great deal. Don [Cheadle] and Robert [Downey Jr.] get along well. Initially, they wanted Don for that role, but my agent pushed me in. I never had beef with Don or [Marvel] about it.”


Five years after his split with Marvel, Howard has started to officially blame Downey Jr. for losing the role. "Well, it turns out...and this is gonna get me in a lot of trouble," Howard stated in an interview with Watch What Happens. "It turns out that the person that I helped become Iron Man, when it was time to re-up for the second one took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out". Asked how things are between him and Downey Jr., Terrence deadpanned, "Oh, I love him. God's gonna bless him."

Finally, three years ago, Howard attacked Downey Jr. directly during an interview with Rolling Stone. Howard said that RDJ wound up getting all the money he could have had. “And guess who got the millions I was supposed to get? He got the whole franchise, so I've actually given him $100 million, which ends up being a $100 million loss for me from me trying to look after somebody, but, you know, to this day I would do the same thing. It's just my nature."

According to The Financial Times, when Don Cheadle was hired at a much cheaper rate to replace Terrence Howard in Iron Man 2. Former CEO of Marvel Entertainment Ike Perlmutter allegedly told former chairman of Disney consumer products Andy Mooney that no one would notice because black people “look the same”. Looking from a perspective, it’s hard to not laugh at that statement, considering that Marvel Studios will release arguably the biggest “black” blockbuster in years, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, next month.

The last time we’ve heard from Howard regarding being replaced ends the dispute on a positive note. Speaking again on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen last year, he said: "We [him and Robert Downey Jr.] just realized that life is too short. We both realized. Life’s too short. Everybody is making money now."

Asked about the storm his comments caused, Terrence responded “There was a lot of drama from it. They wanted to sue me. They’re not going to sue me this time”. He ended the interview apologizing for causing trouble and creating so much drama "I shouldn’t have got drunk. It’s my fault. I’m the one that did it. I ran my mouth."

Both sides of this conflict seem to move on with their lives, plans and careers. The actors even let paparazzi take a picture while attending Brian Grazer's wedding. Hopefully, it will stay that way. 


Favreau and Marvel Studios have been making dire plans about a sequel even before the first Iron Man came out. The director was sure that the movie would appeal to a wide audience, even though the armored superhero was a big unknown. In an interview with New York Post, Favreau said that he and Marvel “spoke creatively about what the first three movies would be. I think we're all into it and would love to do it together."

On the first movie’s red carpet in Los Angeles, Brad Rose, Robert Downey Jr.’s personal trainer revealed that he would start training with the actor after Downey’s break for shooting Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder. They set the deadline in 5 months, suggesting a production date in early 2009. "It's one thing to say you're Iron Man, it's another thing to be fully ready to do that. I'm on Beefcake Charlie status. I've got to not be the skinny Brit anymore. I have to be the Tony that you know and may have loved," Downey Jr. said Entertainment Tonight.

A day after Iron Man’s premiere in the US, Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Gray told ET that, if the movie does well, Paramount would greenlight the sequel for May 7, 2010. On September 29 Paramount and Marvel Studios officially announced Iron Man 2.
The official confirmation of the sequel has started all sorts of rumors. For example, CinemaBlend reported that Samuel L. Jackson’s return to the role of Nick Fury. His storyline in IM2 would be much bigger than a cameo in an after credits scene and the director of SHIELD would call on Tony’s help to deal with a terrorist known as the Mandarin and his organization, Ten Rings.

Instead of shutting down the rumors, Favreau revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he hasn’t been signed as the director of the announced movie. “We've been speaking informally about it, and in concept we would all love to work together again… There's no formal arrangement yet, but in theory we would all love to see it happen." The director also recommended Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man run as a preparation for the sequel: "We want to talk to [Fraction] and get him out here," Favreau said. "The Fraction series seems to be informed as much by our movie as by what happened with Iron Man before."
The director and actor also suggested that Iron Man 3 would in fact be the Avengers movie and said that, in his opinion, Iron Man 2 would be the series’ high point: "It's very difficult to keep these franchises from running out of gas after two [movies]The high point seems to be the second one, judging by history: If you just look at the consensus in the reviews, you see that X-Men 2 and Spider-Man 2 are sort of seen by the fans as the sort of high point of both franchises, though I don't necessarily agree with that. But to be able to fold it into an Avengers is something you just couldn't do in another studio, and I think what Marvel is about is stuff you can't do at a bigger studio." 
It became more and more evident that Marvel didn’t learn a thing from Iron Man’s long and troubled way on the silver screen.  A month after the first movie’s release, IESB broke the news that Marvel Studios Chairman David Maisel, the author of Marvel Studios’ risky, worth $525 million, financing deal with Merrill Lynch, was planning to fire Jon Favreau and get another director for the sequel.


According to The Motley Fool, Marvel offered Favreau less than $5 million for Iron Man 2. That wasn’t much, considering that he earned $4 million for the first one. Various sites described the deal as “insulting”. During Howard Stern’s radio show, the director revealed that he would hope to make 1% of the Iron Man 2 gross, but Marvel decided to turn down Favreau’s offer. The director told Stern that Hollywood producers have a long history of being stingy with profits. The studio that earned $10,4 million from Spider-Man’s $821 million and decided to take things into their own hands, wanted to do the same thing to Favreau. 
After the fans’ outrage, Deadline reported that Marvel’s higher-ups changed their minds and an offer was on the table. Apparently, making Favreau’s salary public was just a standard while negotiating contracts. Deadline’s Nikki Finke reported that Maisel “very recently” put a new offer for Favreau to direct the sequel. The offer was “definitely” richer than what the helmer received for Iron Man. Finke’s source said that there’s nothing to worry about: "They're not paying him the same wage. They're definitely paying him a higher fee to direct this one. What, do people think Marvel is stupid? Of course, the movie was successful, so they're offering him more."
On the contrary, Harry Knowles, who was producing Favreau’s attempt on bringing John Carter on the big screen said that “There is a very, very strong chance that unless David Maisel pulls his head out of his ass and work on this deal - you'll see Jon Favreau directing anything but an 'Iron Man 2' or an 'Avengers' movieJon Favreau wants to do more 'Iron Man' movies. He would love to play in the Marvel Universe. Sadly... David Maisel is penny pinching his own company into a malignant purplenurple,” Knowles concluded. 
Knowles also talked with Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige at the Austin screening of The Incredible Hulk and the producer expressed his interest in collaborating with Favreau in the future. 


To assure the worried fans, Favreau said IESB that "[The deal with Marvel] is gonna work out. I have a feeling...we're working it all out. They're actively engaged..." The director once again gave his opinion on Marvel’s scheduling strategy:  "You look at the ones who took three years. ['Dark Knight' director Christopher] Nolan did 'The Prestige' in between. You're able to ...mix things up a little bit. To get this thing done in two years it means that we've got to dig in really fast and be relentless. It's just a wind sprint all the way through." 
Favreau also confirmed that the franchise wouldn’t go “darker” anytime soon and the studio would keep Iron Man family friendly, but it didn’t mean that the series couldn’t go to more serious places. 
Four months after setting the release date for Iron Man 2, Marvel finally announced that Favreau secured the director's chair and would return to direct the highly-anticipated sequel. 


With Iron Man 2 set to begin filming in March 2009 and problems on the Maisel-Favreau line, Marvel Studios has finally found a screenwriter for the sequel, actor Justin Theroux (Rock of Ages, Zoolander 2). The two teams that wrote the first Iron Man, Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway weren’t returning, as Robert Downey Jr. managed to persuade the producers to hire Theroux, who worked with Downey on Tropic Thunder
Robert Downey Jr. revealed some secrets about the sequel at the Chicago Sun-Time and ensured that Marvel is not planning to revolutionize what worked the first time:  “You want some plot secrets? Okay, here we go,” Downey said in an interview. “If he said he's Iron Man in the first film, it's one thing to say it and another thing to evolve to a point where you can live in a heroic fashion.”  The team's main goal was "more of the same in 'Iron Man 2.' We want to do what worked for us last time. I'm talking about telling more of the story of a guy put in extraordinary circumstances who has a family now and he's dealing with these forces. In 'Iron Man 2,' you will be able to understand various points of view about him that are far-reaching while this guy is still grounded in reality.” 
War Machine’s full presence was also briefly teased in the first Stark’s adventure and the director knew that they had to deliver on that premise: "We're figuring out [War Machine]," Favreau promised. "We're talking to Terrence to see if he can take some time out of his new life as a musician to be War Machine. I think Terrence and the character of Rhodey were smaller in the first movie than we had anticipated. But it does set the table very well for this character.

Still, the biggest challenge the production had to face was the already set release date. With a year and a half left till the release, Theroux and Favreau were still only discussing ideas and the project was far away from being finished and ready to shoot. In fact, the script wasn’t even ready when the crew has been filming Iron Man 2, but that’s just the way Favreau works: “The writing is really coming along quite well. We've got Justin Theroux working on it. He echoes Downeys taste a lot and he worked with him on Tropic Thunder. He's an excellent actor. I come at writing the same way he does. He brings a real sense of fun. He's never worked in the genre before and he has that great newcomer's enthusiasm that I think we still share. Then it's about, ok, here are the books, here's what we've got. Here's the story, so we're breaking story. Pages are coming out, but it's really more of a conversation than actual writing. The pages come but the pages are never really what they are going to be in the movie, until the day we start shooting”.
Of all comic-book stories involving Tony Stark, Demon in a Bottle is arguably the most well-known, heaviest, and also, one of the best. Favreau knew that, but right from the start he resolved the doubts: “Stark has issues with booze. That's part of who he is. I don't think we'll ever do the Leaving Las Vegas version, but it will be dealt with”. The movie was also inspired by Armor Wars II.
The director felt the pressure, as the first movie was made under the mainstream radar, but the second one didn’t have that comfront and the comparisons to Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight were inevitable. Favreau said that he would love to be Pepsi to their Coke, the choice of a new generation. 
On October 28, 2008 Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle were both confirmed to star in the movie as Tony Stark and James Rhodes. Favreau would also get a producer credit. 


In an interview with UGO, Theroux confirmed that they were finishing the first draft "We’ve kind of got a first draft around. You know what I mean? I just got back from London where I was working with Robert and Kevin Feige. He was out there. We were talking with Robert, who’s out there doing Sherlock Holmes, he was giving his input and his notes. We’re sort of there. It’s just sort of chugging along. The crews, I think, are now starting to see what they need to make, and the places that we might be going and all the rest within the story. That’s sort of one of the more exciting times." 
It can be said that Robert Downey Jr.’s career mirrors the life of Tony Stark. The actor realized that and said in a Thanksgiving interview that “My life lessons were that the battles have to be hard fought and hard won. I certainly wouldn't wish it on an enemy, but as it stands right now, I'm MTV's "actor we're most thankful for." All this stuff does mean something. I grew up in and around MTV. I remember going to the MTV Video Music Awards with Anthony Michael Hall and David Lee Roth, driving down Fifth Avenue in a convertible Studebaker. David was wearing white gloves and tails. I was like, "Dude, is it ever going to get more modern than this?

The movie’s script still wasn’t ready, but the works were advanced enough to start assembling the cast. A casting call revealed that Crimson Dynamo ("30s, Eastern European, brilliant, gritty...") and Black Widow ("20s, beautiful, speaks several languages fluently and is equally proficient in martial arts...") would join the picture, meaning that despite being teased and confirmed for IM2, the Mandarin wouldn’t be the main villain, once again.


Latino Review run with an information that Tim Robbins would play Tony’s father, Howard Stark, meaning that Gerard Sanders wouldn’t reprise his role from the first Iron Man. According to the website, Black Widow and Hawkeye would “definitely” appear in the movie. Robbins later debunked the rumor in an interview with CinemaBlend. Gary Oldman (Air Force One, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) was rumored to play Stark Senior, but his manager debunked the rumor by saying that "Mr. Oldman did not visit the set of 'Iron Man' and there are currently no plans for him to appear in the film."
The Hollywood Reporter started 2009 with a reveal of the potential Iron Man 2 villains. Mickey Rourke (Sin City. The Wrestler) was rumored to play Ivan Vanko, a tattooed Russian enginer, also known as The Whiplash for his deadly whips. Other sources were saying that Rourke would in fact play The Crimson Dynamo. As we know it, Marvel Studios decided to merge both personalities in the movie. 
Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Moon) would play Justin Hammer, a multibillionaire businessman and a rival of Tony Stark. An unconfirmed rumor said that Al Pacino (The Godfather, Scarface) was considered for the role but turned it down. If the rumor is true, Marvel was looking for a more comic-accurate, older Hammer, but went with a younger version of the character after all, probably thanks to Theroux and Favreau. Rockwell starred in Favreau’s Made and enjoyed the experience so much that he agreed to play in Iron Man 2 without reading the (unfinished) script. “It felt like an independent movie because of Jon Favreau. And [screenwriter] Justin Theroux was the reason I was in it. It was an amazing experience,” Rockwell said Vanity Fair in an interview last year. 
On January 15, Variety revealed that Marvel Studios has found its Black Widow. The company hired Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, Into The Woods) to portray Russian super-spy Natasha Romanova in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers.


A week after the announcement the the bad guys for Iron Man 2 have been found, Rockwell denied the reports and said that he would love to play Hammer, but nothing has been set in stone at the time. There’s a chance he’s heard about Marvel’s offer to Mickey Rourke, $250K. Yes, $250 000. Meisel really loved his new position. And money.
During the promotion of Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, Rourke revealed that he might be involved in Iron Man 2 and "I want to do, they want me to do and we are talking". He didn’t comment on the reported money issue. 
Due to Emily Blunt’s scheduling conflict between  Rob Letterman's Gulliver’s Travels and Iron Man 2, Marvel Studios has started discussion with other actresses to fill the role of Black Widow. Entertainment Weekly’s sources have confirmed in February that Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation, Her) has been approached for the role and she was interested in the project. 
In an interview with New York Magazine, Rourke asked about his villainous role in the movie answered grimly that "Right now, we're not doing Iron Man 2”. 
Set designer J. Michael Riva ignited the fans’ imagination and decribed a scene in Iron Man 2 where "Tony, in the Iron Man armor, pukes in a toilet." Despite the director’s confirmations that the movie wouldn’t tackle the Demon in a Bottle storyline, many editors were happy to report that the description clearly indicated a darker direction for the highly-anticipated sequel.


The Orlando Sentinel's Roger Moore (no, not the one who played James Bond) had a chance to interview Blunt and she didn’t seem to mourn after losing the role of Black Widow. "I'm okay. Because I just have to do this Fox movie, and it's fine and I'm gonna have fun. The whole beginning of the year has been rather dramatic, so I'd just rather go in with fresh eyes and know that I've made the right decision. You just don't know until it's all finished and done with, do you?"
Moore tried to cheer her up a bit by telling her “Well, the sequel's almost never as good as the original.” It looks like the screenplay didn’t please the actress as she responded "I'm glad you said that, not me. It's a little disappointing is all I can say."  
The Hollywood Reported finally delivered some good news for the Marvel team and announced that Samuel L. Jackson has signed a nine-picture deal to portray Nick Fury. Till this day, L. Jackson played the character in Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron. He’s also going to reprise the role in next year’s Captain Marvel. It means that we will see L. Jackson in at least two or three Marvel movies, depening on his ABC’s Agents of Shield involvement.  
In March, Mickey Rourke has change his mind and asked by the paparazzi if he would be involved in Iron Man 2 responded "You bet your ass."


A month before the filming start, Deadline confirmed that Rourke and Johansson were officialy cast. “It was nice because both Favreau and Downey Jr both fought for me to get my deal worked out, those guys both went into bat for me and I appreciated that,” Rourke said a year later to Inquirer Entertainment. In early 2009, Sony was trying to get Rourke to play a villain in Raimi’s Spider-Man 4, so it was a big win for Marvel Studios. According to Deadline’s sources, Johansson was the first choice to play Widow, but she rejected the role in favor of Blunt. It turned out that she was the closest second place and after Blunt’s departure, she has been tapped to take the part. 
To prepare to his upcoming role as Whiplash, Rourke spent a few hours behind bars in Russia to mentally prepare for the role and interviewed both, prisoners and jailers. In an interview with the UK Guardian, Rourke talked about his preparation for playing the main villain in Iron Man 2. "I decided to do half my role in Russian," he beamed, "and that's hard because the Russian language doesn't roll off the English-speaking tongue very easily. I spent three hours a day with a teacher, and after two weeks I know four sentences! Let me see, it's sort of like... 'Yezzamee menya... Yezzamee manya obott... Er, nemaboootty menya...'" This goes on for quite some time. "It means," he finally said, "If someone kills me, don't wake me up, because I'd rather be dead than live in your world."
In the meantime, Brett Ratner used an interview with MTV as an opprortunity to insult and compliment Iron Man at the same time "I would do any superhero movie that I was asked to do... But I wouldn’t have been interested in 'Iron Man.' I have a lot of respect for [Jon Favreau], because to me, it was a B-character. But look what he did." He also expressed his sadness due to losing an opportunity to make a Superman movie and was worried that for him, the ship has sailed to adapt comic-book characters. "I was so upset when I left 'Superman,'" Ratner said. "Singer has his 'X-Men,' Nolan has 'Batman' — there’s nothing left. 'Hulk' has been exploited already. There’s nothing left for me... I mean, I’m not going to go and do the Silver Surfer or something." He was right. 


During the press tour for The Soloist, Downey Jr. asked the fans to curb their enthusiasm and ensured that the Demon in a Bottle storyline won’t be used in Iron Man 2, because “it’s such its own storyline. We're going for the interim space [between the origin and 'Demon']." The actor also described IM2 as an "incredibly risky and artistic for a big genre movie. The motivations Tony has and why he turns around and does things has completely to do with his own internal processes...we're kind of trying to tell a story about how a dysfunctional family saves life on Earth as we know it." Downey Jr. also complemented Rourke’s work "I’ve seen his stuff and it is literally remarkable. Literally remarkable. He’s so good. And he’s formidable and he’s very much reminding me of that kind of charming, confident guy that we know."
Faran Tahir (Star Trek, Elysium) commented on whether or not he will play The Mandarin in any future Marvel movies "I don't know. My answer to that is that we created the character, not by accident, but by design, with a vague future. You can spin it many different ways and it should make sense, was the idea. One is this guy who has a connection to Mandarin at some point... or is this guy someone who might become Mandarin at some point? There's a case to be made -- and a pretty good one -- that two guys, who in the belly of a cave, almost like a womb, emerge out of that womb and one becomes Iron Man and one becomes Mandarin. There's a case to be made for that".
Rockwell explained why Justin Hammer won’t look or act like his counterpart from the comics. “They wanted to go with a rival for Tony Stark who is closer to his age, and make him American,” Rockwell told MTV News about the new look for the Marvel villain. "That looks like Jeremy Irons,” Rockwell joked on the Hammer character in the comic. “I guess they couldn’t get Jeremy Irons for it.


Iron Man 2’s crew started the summer 2009 with an announcement that Olivia Munn has landed a role in the movie. Munn described the role as “a bigger role than ‘Big Stan”. She had about five seconds screen time in that Rob Shneider’s comedy. The actress also refuted speculation that she’s playing a TV reporter. A year later, Munn revealed that she’s reshot all of her scenes and is playing a different character. "They started to edit they realized it was becoming darker than what they'd expected and what my scenes had allowed for. My parts were lighthearted and comedic." she said IGN. 
Favreau explained that "She did a very funny comedic take on a girl that [Tony] was with at his birthday partyShe pops up again later in his bedroom. But the way the scene went down, that part of the movie didn't want to have comedy because it was starting to get a little bit serious and bump tonally. ... As a scene it was great, but when we put the whole movie together, that's one of the things that happens. It's happened to me many times as an actor, but we called her up and said, 'There's another thing that we're shooting now, we'd love to have you in the film.' " Yep, she ended up playing a TV reported at Stark Expo with about five seconds of screen time. 
Iron Man 2 wrapped filming in July 2009. Favreau discussed the picture with Movies Online and teased Iron Man 3, the end of Iron Man trilogy. "They make the option deals, they include Iron Man 3. So I know they're planning on 3. Whether that would be before or after Avengers, they've announced that Avengers is next but they pushed back The Avengers once, which I thought was encouraging."
On August 31, Walt Disney Co. announced the purchase of Marvel Entertainment for about $4 billion. "This is perfect from a strategic perspective," Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger told "This treasure trove of over 5,000 characters offers Disney the ability to do what we do best."


Jarvis’ voice, Paul Bettany completely forgot that he was in the first Iron Man and had no idea whether he would return in the second one. "It was an hour['s worth of work]. I got rung up. The director [Jon Favreau], who I know and have worked with as actors [in Wimbledon], said, 'Do you wanna do this thing?' 'Yeah, sure. F*** it. I'll do Iron Man.' I went in. He's a very funny human being, obviously, and I laughed my ass off for about an hour. Literally said a couple of lines, went downstairs, got in a cab and went home," Bettany said. "And I had, swear to God, wiped it out of my mind. People would say to me, 'You're in Iron Man!' 'No, I'm not. Oh, no, yeah, I suppose I am!' So, it's [just] as mysterious. I don't know what I'm doing, whether I come back or not." 
According to Favreau, Downey Jr. contributed more than we thought in the creation of the movie and has helped to rewrite scenes. Downey said that he had an intuition about how Tony should be portrayed in the first movie: "I have fortified my belief that if I have a creative instinct about something, usually it's not because I've had too much coffee or because I'm bored - it's because I sense there's something there. And it's always mind-blowing when you follow a hunch and realise it's exactly what the movie wanted."


Through a unique collaboration between Marvel Studios and Columbia Records, fifteen AC/DC’s songs would be featured in Iron Man 2.  The traditional score was composed by John Debney (The Passion of the Christ, The Jungle Book).
Downey, Jr. has spoken many times about how great it is to play a superhero at his age, but he admitted that the actual process of shooting the film in the heavy Iron Man armor does have its drawbacks:  "Well, the suit was a bit lighter, but not light enough for my liking. I had more self-confidence shooting the second film, but I wouldn't say we had fun. We wanted to take more time. We extended the cast and our horizon and made the story more complex and subtle, although it's still easy to follow. We really looked into the storyline thoroughly to make it as good as possible."
Favreau clarified when the movie’s action takes place in the MCU timeline. Iron Man 2 officially takes place before The Incredible Hulk. It’s pretty complicated since at the end of Iron Man 2, Stark rejects joining the Avengers initiative and at the start of The Avengers he’s not involved in SHIELD’s doings at all. So why would he chase Gen. Ross in the post-credits scene of TIH to ask him about the Hulk and why he’s smiling when Ross asks him who’s “we”? That’s a mystery that will probably stay unsolved. 


Before the fast approaching release of Iron Man 2, Theroux explained once again why the movie didn't adapt “Demon in the Bottle... That works really well in the comics. It's just a great, gritty storyline. It doesn't transfer to film", the actor told MTV. "We didn't want to be the Leaving Las Vegas version of Iron Man 2. Even just a little bit of that can completely dominate the story. We have him drinking in the movie; we have him out of control. We have the self-destructive ticking clock...That's how we landed on his illness, that it's the metaphor for a man who's running out of steam and needs his friends to step up. Whereas, if we ran right toward the Demon in the Bottle story, nobody wants to see Tony like that...We realized that in a comic book you can have one key-frame where it's a guy, drunk, but in a movie, that's gotta be a big scene and it's gotta be addressed”. Here’s the most important quote from the interview: ”A thirteen year old kid does not want to see drunken Tony”. 

During a film festival in Sarajevo, Mickey Rourke guaranteed that Iron Man 2 would be better than Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. said that the film would be "incredible in every detail." According to a JustJared report, Johansson joked to Extra TV, "Hopefully, I won’t be crucified for saying this, but I think the second one is even better." A week before the theatrical release of Iron Man 2 on May 7, 2010, the first reviews started to slowly surface. Marvel Studios had to face the terrible truth - Howard's prophecy may have been right. 



To show you the difference between the first Iron Man and Iron Man 2, let’s take a look at two quotes. The first one, “Tony, this is your Ninth Symphony” is said by Bridges’ Obadiah Stane when the villain steals Stark’s arc reactor. The second one comes from the sequel: “These are the Cubans, baby. This is the Cohibas, the Montecristos. This is a kinetic-kill, side-winder vehicle with a secondary cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine RDX burst. It's capable of busting a bunker under the bunker you just busted. If it were any smarter, it'd write a book, a book that would make Ulysses look like it was written in crayon. It would read it to you. This is my Eiffel Tower. This is my Rachmaninoff's Third. My Pieta. It's completely elegant, it's bafflingly beautiful, and it's capable of reducing the population of any standing structure to zero. I call it "The Ex-Wife." I hope you get the idea.
The first Iron Man is elegant and substantial. The second one compounds the first movie’s ideas to enormous proportions. Almost everything you liked about the first movie is here, but it’s bigger, dumber and unfortunately, much less interesting.
Nothing suggests that the movie will ultimately turn into the worst part of the Iron Man trilogy. The beginning sets up Ivan Vanko’s motivations perfectly. His father dies in a filthy room in Russia while the son of his former friend who stole his technology is glorified as a hero. Mickey Rourke’s efforts to make Vanko something more than just a stereotypical bad Russian guy are admirable, even the idea to buy a bird. Too bad almost everything Rourke tried to accomplish is ruined in the third act when it’s revealed that he’s just a smarter/dumber (depending on how you’re looking at it) Iron Monger.
Iron Man 2 could also be titled Capitalism: F*ck Yeah!. Stark announces that he successfully privatized world peace, his life is filled with luxury and he even meets Elon Musk. Yeah, the guy responsible for PayPal and the Falcon Heavy program cameos in the movie. It would be interesting to see the clash between Stark and Vanko on the intellectual level, instead of punching each other in the face.


I really couldn’t stress out how much I enjoy watching Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer and it was a great decision to not present him as an older, grumpy man that he is in the comics. Too bad he never returned and just like the Abomination, stays imprisoned somewhere absolutely forgotten.
Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow, despite looking fabulous, doesn’t have much to do. The fact that Iron Man 2 tries to make us believe that she’s a computer genius who knows how to hack Vanko’s software is rather laughable. But the movie successfully managed to introduce another prominent character that would play a big role in The Avengers and future MCU movies. 
The most important good things end here. Let’s talk about the director’s demons and an empty bottle.
Tony Stark drinks a lot, even before getting into a car. Stark has to fight the Whiplash who’s working with/for Justin Hammer. The action moves to Monaco. Ivan Vanko gets imprisoned. The government and SHIELD attempts to acquire the Iron Man armor. Stark uses an advanced version of his suit that’s hidden in a suitcase to stop Vanko. Tony Stark alienates people in despair.
Am I describing Iron Man 2 or the Demon in a Bottle storyline? The short answer is – both. But there’s one big difference between the movie and the comic – one doesn’t have balls to say that Tony Stark is an alcoholic and the other one does. Demon in a Bottle is a tragic, almost depressing, but still a pretty wonderful story. Once again, Stark has to reinvent himself and face his biggest, relentless demon. Himself. But the movie tries to tell a very different, same story.

Maybe because of the deal with The Walt Disney Company, Robert Downey Jr.’s troubled adulthood or thinking about children (mostly thirteen years old), the most important thing from the comic is nowhere to be found. Instead of the drinking problem, Tony Stark has to deal with palladium that’s killing him. To save himself, Tony uses his father’s designs hidden in a dummer, scans it and uses Jarvis’ software to create a new element. Are you serious movie? There’s no tension, but a lot of important things seemingly happen.
In the first movie, building the Mark I suit in a cave was “believable” and exciting. The sequel moves into the fantasy science-fiction territory at full speed. This newly discovered element, the biggest invention since the atomic bomb ultimately doesn’t matter. Did you hear about it in a Marvel movie that’s not Iron Man 2? No? The events of this movie have little meaning even for Iron Man 2, so the fact that they don’t matter in the greater scheme of things is really not that surprising.
The soundtrack composed by John Debney is as good as Djawadi’s work and I really enjoy the music during the scenes with Ivan, especially in Monaco. It’s still frustrating that Marvel decided to no repeat the themes from the first movie as it fits the ending when Stark saves Pepper perfectly. AC/DC involvement gives the movie a nice power kick and the band’s music does a great job in capturing the magic of Stark’s mechanized world.

It’s obvious that Iron Man 2 was a rushed job. Favreau’s comments about the lack of time to make it turned out to be true. Two years is just not enough to make a good sequel when you’re directing alone. Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 2 proved that filming crews need time to figure out how to make better, and not only bigger, sequels. Iron Man 2 even has obvious continuity errors. It’s probably for the best to not include a glass of red wine in a shot to only make it magically disappear in a mostly white environment with white table, white suits and white plane in the background.
The movie has begun the wave of criticisms about the Marvel Cinematic Universe that are still more or less relevant today. Wasting good actors, forgettable scores, a lack of consequences, making movies for children and bombastic finals. I don’t think that all of these criticisms are valid, but some of them surely are and these flaws are obvious while watching the last Marvel movie made by Favreau.
Iron Man 2 is a highly entertaining movie, but is could and should have been so much more. It came out after Christopher Nolan’s groundbreaking The Dark Knight and many fans were rightfully expecting the same, or at least similar quality of filmmaking. They got a beautifully looking movie that tried to adapt one of the heaviest stories in Marvel Comics’ history by castrating it. The bottle was empty.


With moderately positive reviews, Iron Man 2 finished its box office run with $623,933,331, which was more than the first one’s $585 million, but it was a bitter win as the sequel decreased domestically and its production budget was increased to approximately $200 million.

In the aftermath of Iron Man 2, Marvel Studios turned down Favreau’s offer to direct The Avengers. According to CinemaBlend, Favreau who was unhappy with Iron Man 2, wanted to direct The Avengers, but Marvel Studios' typical pet peeve got in the way. "Favreau really wanted to direct The Avengers but Marvel didn’t want to pay for him. Their negotiations with Favreau to secure him as the director of Iron Man 2 were difficult and Favreau worked out a deal that got him paid more money.”
The website also revealed that Marvel Studios didn’t let Favreau make the movie he wanted to make, but the movie that was basically a two-hours teaser for The Avengers. "Iron Man 2 wasn’t the movie Jon Favreau wanted to make. Marvel interfered heavily with his work on the movie and turned the project into a commercial for The Avengers. Favreau felt the movie was rushed into production (and if you followed the development process you know it was) and they pushed him into making it without a fully realized script. Iron Man 2 wasn’t the movie he wanted to make and because of that, if there’s an Iron Man 3, there’s every reason to think he won’t be back. Marvel doesn’t want to pay him and Favreau may not want to deal with more Marvel interference.


Late Garry Shandling played a U.S. senator who wanted the Iron Man armor to be handed over to the US government, revealed that working with Downey Jr. was “unbelievable. He is so fast, funny and facile at playing in the moment. That is very, very special, and that’s exactly where I like to be. I liked to improvise and he likes to improvise and Jon said that was fine as long as we gave him the story. So what was a five-page scene turned into a 15-page scene." 
Interestingly enough, Mickey Rourke never studied, or even watched his performance in Iron Man 2, because "I like doing 'em. I don't give a f*ck about watching my own stuff."
A year after the release of the movie, Downey Jr. reflected on the "life-changing" success of Marvel's  Iron Man and the minor disappointment with its sequel in an interview with the Los Angeles Times:
"The first one changed everything for me and with the second 'Iron Man' there were certain aspects that were dissatisfying and disappointing to me but at least they lit me right.... [The first one] was a meditation on responsibility and an exploration of how a small group of people can take a two-dimensional idea and, if the winds are right, create something that makes people say, 'That was my favorite movie of the year. To me, Tony Stark's story is a karma story and a technology story. I love a good action movie — a Steve McQueen or Tom Cruise or Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis or Mel Gibson in the right spot, and you smile and say, 'That's what this kind of movie is all about.' There were two times in my life I prepared for something manically, it was [Iron Man] and 'Chaplin.' I became the expert on this guy."

During the promotional tour for Immortals, Rourke discussed his villainous role in Iron Man 2. It’s important to remember that not all of his material made the final cut: "I try to find the moments where [the villain is] not that clichéd, evil bad guy and it's a big fight. I had it on 'Iron Man' and they won. It was going to work for Marvel and them breaking [Jon] Favreau's balls and wanting just a one-dimensional villain. The performance and all the things that I tried to bring to it end up on the f--ing floor. That can cause you not to care as much. To not to want to put that effort in to try and make it an intelligent bad guy or a bad guy who is justified in what his reasons are."


In a fairly lengthy interview with Crave Online, The Wrestler star accused Marvel of butchering Favreau’s vision: “It’s like when I did Ivan Vanko in Iron Man, I fought… You know, I explained to Justin Theroux, to the writer, and to [Jon] Favreau that I wanted to bring some other layers and colors, not just make this Russian a complete murderous revenging bad guy. And they allowed me to do that. Unfortunately, the [people] at Marvel just wanted a one-dimensional bad guy, so most of the performance ended up the floor.” 
The actor also called Marvel’s movies “midless” and said that he wouldn’t be a part of the MCU ever again. “I don’t want to have to care so much and work so hard, and then fight them for intelligent reasoning, and just because they’re calling the shots they… You know, I didn’t work for three months on the accent and all the adjustments and go to Russia just so I could end up on the floor. Because that can make somebody say at the end of the day, oh f**k ‘em, I’m just going to mail it in. But I’m not that kind of guy. I’m never going to mail it in.” 


Based on the interview, it seemed that Favreau and Theroux tried to do something more with the Whiplash but ultimately “you’ve got some nerd with a pocketful of money calling the shots. You know, Favreau didn’t call the shots. I wish he would have. And Theroux, we worked together to bring layers to that character, so, you know, I fight for that any time I’m playing like a bad guy”.
In an interview with MTV seven years ago, Rourke finally decided to call the things as they were and literally said that "If they let you play the bad guy with other dimensions other than one dimensional. You have to fight for that though, to bring layers to the character. Otherwise, if you're working for the wrong studio or let's say a director that doesn't have any balls, then they're just gonna want it to be the evil bad guy. So, if you're working with some good studio guys that got brains and you're working with a director with a set of nuts that'll let you incorporate that then it's fun.”

Iron Man 2 could’ve been so much more. But because of Marvel Studios playing it safe and rushed, unnecessarily complicated production process, “you end up with what happened on 'Iron Man [2]."

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