Picture this scenario: it’s 2006 and Jon Favreau is meeting with Marvel Studios execs about his plans for Iron Man.
“Where’s your script?” they ask.
“I don’t need one,” Favreau replies. “Godard doesn’t use one.”
“Great,” says Michael Helfant. “Who’s Godard?”
But instead of then quitting the movies and starting up a rock band with Vince Vaughn, Favreau did in fact make Iron Man without a script, Pierrot le fou-style. That’s the way Jeff Bridges makes it sound, anyway, in this interview with In Contention’s Kris Tapley.
At first Bridges wasn’t into the production not having its “shit together,” but ultimately he got on board with the idea of making a “$200 million student film…just fuckin’ around,” because it was apparently like the blockbuster comic book adaptation equivalent of a Phish concert (“just jam, man, just play”).
And what happened? The movie was a huge hit at the box office and with critics. Unfortunately, Hollywood never understands what it does right, in the rare moment it does do something right, so the studios will continue paying millions for bad screenplays rather than hiring Christopher Guest to direct, say, The Avengers.
Here’s what some other film bloggers have to say about Bridges’ revelation:
Think of it as a two hour episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, only Larry David wears a gold-titanium alloy suit instead of a sweater and khakis. […] if the story does turn out to be true, I sure would like to hear from Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway and find out exactly what they got paid for. Overall, I like to think that this story proves the power of intelligence: you get a bunch of dumb people in a room with a basic outline and you get Transformers 2, but if you put together a couple of brains with the same material, you can get something incredible.
I hate to distract from Crazy Heart, which should really be the topic here, but what this all leads to is a deeper appreciation of Jon Favreau and Robert Downey, Jr. A few blockbusters have gone before cameras in the last few years with shaky scripts or no script, and none have come out even vaguely as entertaining as Iron Man. If Bridges isn’t exaggerating (always possible) I’m even more impressed with the behind the scenes work than I had been to begin with.
I kind of doubt it went off EXACTLY like this, but still…it makes a weird kind of sense considering how that movie went off. It was great, but in retrospect, it does look like it could have been at least somewhat ad-libbed.
Regardless, though, it was still great fun, and hopefully Iron Man 2 will hold up as well.
I remember seeing Iron Man for the first time and thinking that despite the movie being great, the script was pretty bad. But you can make a lot of things work when you’ve got Downey chewing scenery and shooting rockets from his hands. Adding Robert Downey to a movie is like adding booze to everyday situations.
The model for blockbusters, if it’s not broken, is certainly warped a little. We have release dates for movies three years in the future.
Those aren’t really the issue so much as a by-product of the central problem: Movies like New Moon that speed into production because there’s one opening they think they need to converge upon. Hard to make a classic with a gun to your head. Then again, Orson Welles adapted Touch of Evil in three weeks and shot it in less than a month.