A posting from my old Marvel blog written on the week the first IRON MAN movie opened in 2008.
A day late but not a dollar short (did you see the excellent box office estimates?), here’s the wrap-up on our IRON MAN WEEK coverage.
As has now been revealed on a couple of other websites, back around last December a group of us–myself, Joe Q, Axel Alonso, Ralph Macchio, Brian Bendis, Mark Millar and one or two others–were invited out to the West Coast for a brainstorming session with Jon Favreau and the Iron Man production team. We spent the better part of two days touring the production offices, seeing all of the assorted design work for the characters, sets and props. It was especially gratifying to me to see all the stuff being cribbed from the six-issue “Extremis” arc I’d edited–and of course, Adi Granov, the artist for that storyline, also did production design for the film.
We also got to walk around on an enormous soundstage, within which sets were being constructed for the film. The soundstage itself had once been the hanger in which Howard Hughes had built and stored his enormous Spruce Goose plane, a fact that resonated well with Tony Stark and his own dreams of innovative construction. The set team was in the process of erecting the network of caves where Tony Stark is held captive, and in which he builds his first suit of armor. We were told that, during their lunch hour, members of the production crew would stage mock battles with squirt guns and Nerf weapons while racing through and around the set.
But the centerpiece of the whole visit was a massive round-table discussion and dissection of the latest draft of the screenplay. We’d all gotten to read it the previous day, and it was already in pretty solid shape–I’d say that it was about 85% the same as what we saw in the finished film. Jon Favreau, as you’d expect, was both witty and charming, and seemed entirely open to all sorts of input from the gang. I didn’t contribute much of value–just one observation about a sequence that didn’t make it into the final picture–but we tossed out all kinds of crazy ideas and thoughts. At one point, we spent literally ninety minutes debating whether Tony and Pepper should kiss at the end of the film or not. And while I don’t think anything we said in-and-of itself changed the course of the movie, it was all listened to, and was factored into the thinking of those involved with actually shooting and cutting the picture.
The guy who most impressed me was Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, who took us all out for a great steak dinner. It hadn’t been all that long at that point since Kevin had stepped into the shoes of Avi Arad as the lead guy at the studio, but it was clear from the conversation around the table that he was sharp, well-spoken, and clearly loved movies.
I know it sounds like I’m just blowing smoke, but take a look at what Brian and Mark have to say about that trip over on their boards–it was a great privilege to have been included, and it really gave us a feeling of being part of the production in a way that the previous Marvel films never quite did. This was our movie in some small way, and we had a stake in it that truly mattered. And (even more importantly) the film turned out great and got both great response and great turn-out at the box office.
(The best part of seeing the film, just last Wednesday, was in knowing that Larry Lieber was also in the audience–Joe Q called him out during his pre-movie remarks. Larry had written the very first Iron Man story back in 1962, so it was terrific that not only did he get to have the experience of seeing what he had written up on the screen–the origin sequence in the film is very faithful to that first story–but he was listed in the credits as well. Larry’s one of the more overlooked contributors to the early Marvel Universe, so it was great to see him get a little bit of his due.)
More later–maybe even “One More Ray” if I can get all my ducks in a row.