Iron Man 2 Movie Exposé

The latest issue of Wizard Magazine offers a roundup of cast interviews, rumors and behind the scenes information regarding the highly anticipated Marvel Studios film Iron Man 2. Follow the jump for all the details. . .

In 2008 the world was introduced to Tony Stark, a dedicated war-monger whose genius intellect allowed him to corner the arms market with his futuristic technology. The film followed the unapologetic, billionaire playboy as he faced a great misfortune (no. . not impotence): his own weapons were used to make him a prisoner of war. As if capture by terrorists wasn't bad enough, he now had to rely on an outside power source to keep shrapnel from piercing his heart. We all know what happens next, Tony overcomes the odds and escapes confinement; becoming Iron Man in the process.

The film's sequel, due out May 2nd of this year, has audiences waiting and wondering: Will it meet or exceed our expectations of a comic movie sequel (ala The Dark Knight)? Or will it be just another over hyped, overcrowded sequel?

Wizard Magazine has recently released an in depth, behind the scenes look at the movie. Most notably, it ties in most of the information that's been slowly trickling out for months. First, the film's director Jon Favreau explains how the sotry is set up: "A lot of people wondered if we were going to follow the 'Demon in a Bottle' storyline [but] the tone in the first film isn't as dark as what's explored in the books. What we did want to go into was how he struggles with his own identity in the face of being a larger than life character who is. in fact, saving the world."

Since alcoholism won't be Tony's antagonist in the film, the crew had to find a villain that could challenge our hero both physically and mentally. Enter Ivan Vanko, or Mickey Rourke to be exact. Favreau was very excited when Rourke agreed to board the project, but his excitement amplified when he learned how seriously The Wrester star was taking the role.

"We informed Mickey that the character had done some time in a Russian prison. The next thing I heard, he was in a Russian prison! He chose to go there." Favreau jokingly suggested that Rourke may have had an ulterior motive for going to that extreme: "Apparently, the first American film that they got in Russia as a result of Perestroika was '9 1/2 Weeks'. So [Mickey] is a sex god in Russia."

Fans of the comics know that a villain by the name of Ivan Vanko was not a part of Iron Man's rogues gallery. So where did this new character come from? Favreau goes into detail about the deviation from the source material:

"For those of you who know the books, we're combining some characters in a way that stays true to the books but keeps you guys guessing a little bit. We combined Whiplash and [Anton] Vanko [the Crimson Dynamo]."

Here's a breakdown of the two separate characters - Anton Vanko was a Russian scientist who donned the Crimson Dynamo armor to battle Iron Man. Whiplash, or Mark Scarlotti, was a Stark Industries weapons designer. After becoming involved with organized crime he designed a pair of high-voltage whips that strike with the force of lightning bolts. From the information we've been given regarding Ivan Vanko (Rourke's character) he can discern that he is Anton Vanko's son utilizing the Whiplash technology instead of the Crimson Dynamo suit. If anyone is worried about watching a hybrid character like Vanko/Whiplash, you can rest easy. Favreau doesn't make modifications to the Marvel Universe without careful planning, "Any changes won't be made out of ignorance."

One of film's stars, Sam Rockwell, has indicated that Ivan Vanko is a fan of Tony Stark until Justin Hammer (his character) forces the Russian into becoming a villain through pressure and manipulation.

Two mechanically enhanced main characters isn't enough this time around, Jim Rhodes will don the fan favorite War Machine armor. 'Rhodey', played by Don Cheadle, will be an integral part of Tony's struggle with the government; so we should expect to see plenty of War Machine in action. "I looked on the [shooting] schedule," Cheadle said, "and I think the CGI version of Rhodey worked as many days as I did." A big question of fan's minds is whether the government has gone to the expense of creating their own armored warrior, with gadgets including shoulder-mounted self targeting machine gun that can engage adversaries in 360 degrees, in an attempt to bring in the Golden Avenger. Robert Downey Jr. gives his insight into that possibility: "Well I get that sense from the footage we've shown. But it could be a misdirect."

Downey believes that the conflict between his character and Rhodey is integral to the film's story; not so much as rivals but as competitive equals. "I got from the comic books [was] that when Tony and Rhodey hung out, it would always be a toss up between which one of them would get laid first. With Don [Cheadle], he's someone who is not intimidated by me in any way. So, I wanted to bring that to the screen as much as possible.

The War Machine armor has yet to make it's big screen debut, but Cheadle has already faced rumors regarding a possible spin-off film. "People have asked, but no one [in authority] has mentioned it as something that's happening. Hopefully, if this one goes well, there'll be another [Iron Man film] with the same people. But there won't be a War Machine spin-off."

Rhodes isn't the only government representative that Stark has choice words with. Samuel L. Jackson returns as Nick Fury, Director of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (or you can call it S.H.I.E.L.D.) "We're going to be looking at Tony needing help, working with other people. One of our themes is that no man is an island," said Jon Favreau. Downey gives a bit more detail about how that theme will appear on film, "At a certain point, Tony is approached by Nick Fury, who is wondering what it's like for him not to have any backup."

The film will further explore not just the world of Iron Man, but the Marvel movie-verse as well. "[Tony faces issues] that are more pertinent than his immediate survival," says Downey, "confronting issues that are beyond the realm of easy understanding even for someone as bright as he is." Should audiences ready themselves for a more fantasy elements in the Iron Man films? Many fans are hoping to see mention of Iron Man's nemesis the Mandarin, but with Marvel's next feature film currently in production, this statement could be pointing towards the introduction of Thor.

Fans will have to wait a bit longer to see exactly what surprises Favreau and crew have in store for the film's final cut. Their highest priority is secrecy. "With the level of curiosity, it's very hard to not open every Christmas present before the release date." said the director. "On the first film, Nick Fury was out there on [the internet] less than a week after we did it. We shot with a skeleton crew on a dark day, we thought we were so clever. It's a cat and mouse game that we play."

The interest to see as much of the film as possible before it's release is understandable considering how disappointed fans have been in the past with horrid adaptations of their favorite characters. Favreau promises that he too understands. He has seen fans "punished by studios that don't care about them. We'd [just] like there to be some surprises then next May comes around."

Here are a few interesting finds from next month's issue of Wizard Magazine:

- Iron Man 2 opens showing Tony Stark facing a major struggle where both his mood and armor are grimy and ragged.

- Favreau has confirmed that the exoskeleton armor Whiplash wears in the film's trailer is his "first attempt at technology".

- Black Widow wasn't the only option for Scarlett Johansson to play, Favreau was considering her for the role of Wanda Maximoff, better known as the Scarlett Witch.

- Mickey Rourke felt that his character (Whiplash) should have a pet, just as a way to humanize him. After much discussion, a Cockatoo joined the crew.

Pick up the February issue of Wizard Magazine today for more information on Iron Man 2 including an interview with Scarlett Johansson and more details from Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle.

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