Wednesday, April 8, 2009

5 Things You Didn't Know: Iron Man 2

The sequel to Iron Man was announced before the studio could even finish counting the over $300 million in domestic box office earnings. Now the challenge is making the new franchise a sustainable one that doesn’t burn out by the third film (think Spider-man or X-Men). Iron Man 2’s producers had to act fast since their leading man is over 40, so the release date was set for May 7, 2010. So, while director Jon Favreau and star Robert Downey Jr. are hard at work on one of the most anticipated sequels in years, we’re hard at work bringing you five things you didn’t know about Iron Man 2.

1- Don Cheadle is the new Terrence Howard
Due to salary disputes, the character of Jim Rhodes (Tony Stark’s best friend and ally) will no longer be played by Terrence Howard. He’s been replaced by fellow Academy Award nominee Don Cheadle. Apparently when the first film was being made, Howard was the first actor to sign on to the project, and he was rewarded with the cast’s highest up-front salary. He balked when the producers asked him to take a pay cut for the sequel, so Cheadle replaced him. The character of Jim Rhodes will prove to be a crucial one in the coming films, as he eventually dons his own "supersuit" to become War Machine.

2- Over 600 issues of the Iron Man comic went into Iron Man 2
Justin Theroux is one of the screenwriters of Tropic Thunder -- a film that garnered Downey Jr. an Academy Award nomination this year -- and he will be scripting Iron Man 2 along with a team of co-writers. To prepare for the task of writing the sequel, Theroux apparently immersed himself in all of the Iron Man comic books -- four decades’ worth of them

3- Tony Stark will be hitting the bottle
Fans of the comic know that Tony Stark was the first alcoholic superhero, long before Hancock graced our screens. The filmmakers touched on Tony’s fondness for drink in the first film, but it will definitely be explored more fully in the second one. Favreau has said that he doesn’t want the film to be like Leaving Las Vegas, but with recovering addict Robert Downey Jr. playing the part, we’re sure he’ll give this topic its appropriate due in Iron Man 2.

4- Robert Downey Jr. is the oldest superhero
In April, Downey will be turning 44, which is a year older than Nicolas Cage was when he played Ghost Rider. At a time when baby-faced actors like Tobey Maguire (Spider-man), Brandon Routh (Superman) and Eric Bana (Hulk) are playing the titular superheroes, having an actor as old as Downey represents a few risks. With those young actors, the studios can afford to wait a few years between each installment without fear that the actor playing the lead may not be able to do the stunt work involved.

5- Nick Fury’s existence is in limbo
Given the rough economic climate, Marvel Studios is trying to cut costs wherever it can (see: Terrence Howard). However, since Iron Man 2 is a film that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, you can understand why actors might not be willing to see it as a labor of love. Samuel L. Jackson is rumored to be in negotiations with the studio about reprising his cameo role from the first film as Nick Fury, the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., an organization that plays a large part in the mega-film The Avengers. A final fact you probably didn't know about Iron Man 2 is that it’s unclear whether Jackson will come back, and if he doesn’t, whether they’ll find a new Nick Fury or just scrap the character altogether.