Crediting the attendees of the 2007 Iron Man Comic-Con panel as the reason the movie went on to become a critical and commercial smash, Jon Favreau appeared in a completely packed Hall H on Saturday at this year's Comic-Con to premiere footage from the forthcoming sequel, Iron Man 2, with two clips that brought the crowd to its feet.
Favreau sat next to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and cast members Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle and Sam Rockwell, showed the clips and answered questions from fans both as a thank-you and an opportunity for them to get a first look at one of next year's most highly anticipated films.
Favreau originally screened a very short promo piece that really showed no important or memorable material. But when star Downey walked onstage asking "What was that garbage?" he relented and showed a real clip. In the footage, Stark spends a lazy afternoon at iconic Los Angeles location Randy's Donuts—sitting inside the giant doughnut that sits atop the eatery—before Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up and asks him to "step away from the doughnut." Stark initially declines, saying, "I don't want to join your super-secret boy band."
Soon, however, he discovers that one of the repercussions is increased pressure from the government (and in particular Sen. Stern, played by Garry Shandling) to turn over the Iron Man armor. Stark declines his request as well, describing the armor as a "high-tech prosthesis" that would compromise his very identity. "The suit and I are one," he says. As he continues to exude entitlement, arrogance and disrespect, Stern invites Rhodes (Cheadle) to enter the hearing, where he announces quietly to Stark, "I'm here. Deal with it and move on," which Cheadle later indicated was an acknowledgment of his inheritance of the role Terrence Howard played in the first film.
Voice-over by Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) plays over the next segment, an A-Team assembly montage in which the Russian convict and all-around creepy guy designs a weapon of his own. After Vanko accuses Stark of trying to "rewrite history," whitewashing a family lineage of thieves and liars, he debuts his weaponry, which resembles a stripped-down and much more primitive version of the Iron Man armor, except with two electrical whips that crack thunderously on the pavement as he whips them toward Tony Stark.
A compilation of images from the film followed, including shots of Justin Hammer (Rockwell) and Black Widow (Johansson) in action. While there wasn't much to see, Johansson convincingly kicks ass in her shots. The clip reel culminates in a conversation between Rhodes and Hammer, who offers a cornucopia of hardware from which Rhodes is supposed to choose. "I'll take it," Rhodes says to the animated salesman. "Which one?" Hammer asks. "All of it," Rhodes replies, as the scene cuts to a shot of him in full War Machine regalia, shooting in seemingly every direction at once. Finally, there is one extended shot of Iron Man himself as he flies in a sky that seems to be exploding all around him.
Panel moderator Scott Mantz started the Q&A session by asking Favreau what were the challenges of making the second film bigger and better than the first. "We wanted to make sure we got something together as a thank-you to all of you, and you're the people we wanted to show this stuff to first," Favreau said. "We wanted to add characters, but not too many. To maintain the same tone and dynamic between the characters that you love while adding people that would further move us towards the eventual Avengers film that's coming."
When asked whether he was going to direct that Avengers movie, Favreau demurred but said, "I've still got a year to go on this one. But they're getting ready to make Thor with Kenneth Branagh, and I'm watching the stuff come together, because Marvel has its own studio location now. So I've been looking at some of the prep work and the artwork, and it's looking really fantastic. So hopefully when that stuff comes together, I'll be involved in some capacity. But Kevin and I haven't discussed anything like that. What's fortunate, though, is that it doesn't shoot until we're done with Iron Man 2, so hopefully the movies will continue to cross-pollinate with one another and inform one another, and I'm looking forward to being involved in that project in some way."
Downey was humble about returning to the role. "I've never had it so good," he said. "It's such a great role, and it was really born out of this opportunity Feige and Favreau gave me. I'm just so thankful to be next to the likes of the talent to my left, and I think that, if anything, the fact that we nailed the first time, they've really proved to us that other people are interested in coming on board. So that's the real win for me, these folks you see."
Johansson didn't have a lot to say during the panel, but Favreau said that he was impressed by her commitment to the character. "She dyed the hair before she had the part," he recalled. Downey summarized Rourke's contributions to the film: "I thought it was eccentric," he joked. Downey and Favreau went on to praise Rourke for nailing his character's Russian accent by immersing himself in research—in an actual Russian prison.
Cheadle asked that Comic-Con show the footage again, which was met with rapturous applause. One fan asked how tough it was for Cheadle to create a unique character and yet one that was at least vaguely similar to the one Howard invented in the first film. "I tried to do my performance based on what the script dictated," he explained. "That was something we obviously had to deal with, and I think we do it in kind of an elegant way in the movie. But I just tried to make it my own, but of course being the vampire that I am, I tried to siphon everything that I could off of his performance."
Reminding fans of the film's May 7, 2010, release date, the cast and crew left the stage as the crowd rose to its feet one last time.