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This Isn't My First Rodeo, Mr. Stark

By TK Burton | Industry | December 15, 2010 |

By TK Burton | Industry | December 15, 2010 |

Yesterday, a rumor stemming from an interview Jon Favreau gave to Vulture about Iron Man 3: Iron Harder began to pick up steam. Specifically, Mr. Favreau expressed his confusion and hesitance over the direction of the franchise, post-Avengers. Here’s the video:

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Interesting. The money quote is this one:

Kevin Feige, who’s been involved with superhero movies with Marvel movies since the X-Men films, is very aware of his path and how to weave [things together], so in theory, ‘Iron Man 3? is going to be a sequel or continuation of ‘Thor,’ ‘Hulk,’ ‘Captain America’ and ‘Avengers’… This whole world… I have no idea what it is. I don’t think they do either, from conversations I’ve had with those guys.

It was an interesting tidbit, and ultimately proved to be an ominous note about Favreau’s future with the franchise, and the Avengers players in general. The films are getting an enormous amount of attention, what with two entries — Thor and Captain America coming out next year, to be followed by Joss Whedon’s The Avengers in 2013. But weaving them all together is going to be the tricky part, and Marvel is still working out the kinks for that. Committing Favreau to Iron Man 3 (currently slated for 2013) apparently proved to be impossible, and now Vulture is reporting that it’s official, while Favreau confirmed it himself on Twitter, noting that he was opting instead to do the Magic Kingdom film.

So, Favreau’s out of Iron Man 3. Marvel is renowned for hiring talent on the cheap, and Favreau’s success in the past two films, as well as his likely upcoming success with Cowboys and Aliens, may well have just placed him out of the running. Coupled with his hesitance to wade into the knotty plotlines of the new Avengers universe (Favreau’s been hedging his answers for some time now), and who knows just what all led to this happening.

What I do know is that the effort to shoehorn an Avengers plotline is what almost brought down Iron Man 2, and that will be a challenge for the future films, particularly Captain America, which doesn’t even take place in the current timeline. How they’re going to seamlessly integrate the Steve Rogers storyline into The Avengers without a bridge film is going to be particularly complicated. It’s easily doable for Iron Man and Thor, since S.H.I.E.L.D. plays such prominent roles in those films.

But that’s neither here nor there. Iron Man without Favreau seems strange, but then again, it’s hardly the sky falling. If anything, it might benefit from a fresh perspective, assuming Marvel makes a solid choice with a new director. Marvel’s biggest challenge is going to be maintaining momentum as they head towards The Avengers — and then figuring out what the hell to do with the characters and franchises afterwards. We can assume that if Avengers does well, it will have its own sequel, but will they somehow fracture the group again to create new solo films?

That’s part of Marvel’s apparent confusion that Favreau alludes to, and perhaps its that sense of the unknown, coupled with Favreau’s escalating asking price, that’s leading to this schism (not to mention that Marvel at one point seemed to be pushing a version of its vision that Favreau wasn’t quite thrilled with). Vulture’s article notes, ““other industry insiders look at Favreau’s growing price tag and speculate that he was getting too expensive for the frugal Marvel and its equally cost-conscious parent company, Disney. In fact, one Hollywood player familiar with Marvel’s playbook theorizes that the company had been pushing a confusing and packed vision of the third film as a tactic to provoke Favreau into leaving the project.”

The other x-factor is Robert Downey Jr., who is slated to be in many of the upcoming projects, but also apparently has director approval etched into his contract. That’s good news, because I feel like RDJ has a good grasp on the character and the franchise now, which hopefully means he knows what to look for in potential replacements (assuming it comes to that).

Regardless, it’s official and it’s interesting. Favreau, who helped make this franchise, and helped get the ball rolling for the Avengers — both the main film and the other solo projects, is dunzo with Iron Man.

UPDATE: Courtesy of The Playlist, here’s Favreau’s gracious response to his departure:

“Marvel and I both came of age together,” Favreau diplomatically explained to the L.A. Times today. “The years that we shared were a pivotal experience. Kevin has a firm grasp on the many franchises and how they all interweave and I am happy that I had the opportunity to establish the world that these characters can now play in…. ‘Iron Man’ has given me tremendous opportunities and Kevin (Feige) and I are enjoying a lot of momentum in our careers thanks to the ‘Iron Man’ films. I look forward to seeing what others can do playing in the same world.”


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TK Burton is an Editorial Consultant. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.