I love Iron Man.
The movie made $582 million worldwide in its theatrical release alone. Add an estimated $161 million in DVD sales (according to these guys) in the United States alone, NOT including Blu-ray sales. And speaking of Blu-ray sales, the movie’s Blu-ray is currently (and still) the number one top-selling title on Amazon — ahead of The Bourne Trilogy and The Dark Knight.
($16.99 is certainly the nice price.)
And I’m sure the production people got plenty of cash from Burger King from all those Whoppers Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark was chomping on before and during that press conference.
In other words, Iron Man made a lot of money.
Not too bad for a relatively second-tier comic book character whom a huge percentage of viewers probably hadn’t even heard of before seeing the film.
Iron Man launched director Jon Favreau to the top of the A-list, and it reminded us all of how formidable Robert Downey Jr. can be when he cranks up the charm.
And yet …
Whenever something makes a lot of money, the people making the money want to make more money. But is Marvel Studios — the film arm of Marvel Comics, who released Iron Man as their first self-financed film — trying to go cheap for the sequel?
At first, even Favreau seemed expendable. Let me direct you to a pair of excellent articles by Devin Faraci over at CHUD:
Of particular interest was Favreau’s concern that Marvel’s April 2010 release date was unrealistic for a film that would certainly require a lot of pre-production work. You can read Favreau’s comments here, from which this June 9, 2008 quote is taken:
It’s been five weeks since the one and only phone call my reps have gotten from Marvel. I know their hands are full with the Hulk and I’m sure they will get into it shortly, as they tell me they intend to. I ran into the Marvel guys at the Hulk premiere and everyone sounded eager to get to work on IM2.
I am concerned, however, about the announced release date of April 2010. Neither Robert nor I were consulted about this and we are both concerned about how realistic the date is in light of the fact that we have no script, story or even writers hired yet. This genre of movie is best when it is done thoughtfully and with plenty of preparation. It might be better to follow the BB/DK, X/X2 three year release pattern than to scramble for a date. It is difficult because there are no Marvel 09 releases and they need product, but I also think we owe it to the fans to have a great version of IM2 and, at this point, we would have less time to make it than the first one.
Things had calmed down within the month, however, as detailed in this article from June 29:
Was Marvel ever considering making the sequel without Favreau to avoid giving him a deservedly higher paycheck?
The next controversy involved Terrence Howard, who happily told MTV Splash Page in August that he couldn’t wait to get in the gym with Downey to bulk up for the sequel:
I remember reading this article and being really excited, because Howard’s performance was one of my favorite parts of Iron Man. I liked his chemistry with Downey and particularly loved the moment where he looks at Tony’s silver prototype armor suit and says, “Next time, baby.” Howard shared a similar sentiment with MTV right here, all the way back in May.
Word broke in October that Howard was suddenly out of the sequel, to be replaced by Don Cheadle.
What what what? What what?
And according to Terrence Howard, no one was more surprised than Terrence Howard:
(Thanks to our good friend Kerstin for the link.)
Don Cheadle’s an incredible actor. He’ll be great in the part. But I really feel like Howard put a stamp on Rhodes in the first one, and I’d like to see him continue.
For Cheadle’s reaction to his casting, go here.
And please know that we wish you the best, Don.
But what happened to Howard? Money was allegedly (and not surprisingly) involved, but not necessarily in a way that you might think.
Read this article and come back when you’re done.
Interesting, isn’t it? Since Howard was the first actor signed on for the first movie, he allegedly got paid more than any of the other actors — and Marvel wanted to cut his paycheck for the sequel. When his people balked, Cheadle got the call. Allegedly. Who knows? Maybe we’ll never know the whole story.
Anyway, Robert Downey Jr. was cautious and classy when asked about the switch:
Samuel L. Jackson, meanwhile, who played SHIELD honcho Nick Fury in a quick cameo, discussed reprising the role throughout all of Marvel’s upcoming superhero films (leading up to and including The Avengers) right here.
And then he mentioned the Howard/Cheadle switch right here, saying, “Don and I are good friends, and I think it’s going to be an exciting difference. We’ll see what happens. It’s kind of amazing how [the switch from Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle] happened.”
Don’t speak so fast, Samuel L.!
Because you’re apparently expendable, too:
That question still hasn’t been answered, even though Iron Man 2 news and rumors continue to fly in.
Will Emily Blunt play the sexy, villainous Black Widow? More on that here.
Rourke says he’ll “bring it all” to the sequel here, but will Marvel bring the cash?
Not necessarily, if you can true-believe what you read right here.
Oh, and Terrence isn’t the only “Howard” in flux — Tim Robbins is replacing Gerard Sanders as Tony Stark’s father. (Go here.)
I have high hopes for the sequel. I really do. But given Marvel’s apparent efforts to cut corners (while simultaneously forcing a release date that the director himself thinks is unrealistic), I hope it turns out as good as the first one.
More on the wild and crazy development of Iron Man 2 as it happens!