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Iron Man: Feige on the film, the sequels and the spinoffs

By Rob M. Worley     August 06, 2007

At the recent Comic-Con International in San Diego, Comics2Film had a chance to sit down with Marvel Studios President Production Kevin Feige during roundtable interviews to talk about the big story at the show: 'Iron Man' and the footage they unveiled for the fans:

Q: Were you nervous about showing the trailer?

Kevin Feige: Yeah!

Q: And what did you think of the reaction?

Feige: I was nervous and I was extremely excited by the reaction. It was great, I think. Whenever they want to see it again it's great. Jon sneaked it on Thursday and I read a lot of stuff online. It was really positive. It seemed to be the buzz of the show.

So after that I was excited to show it to people again today. I think we showed it twice. It seems like people responded very well to it.

Q: Were you specifically interested in the reaction of true fans?

Feige: Certainly we know a lot about that

We put together this piece, as Jon said, specifically for this audience. You will not see that four minutes again in the same fashion. It was designed scene-by-scene, shot-by-shot for this audience to show them Robert, to show them Tony Stark, to show them the origin that they may recognize, that a mainstream audience might not necessarily.

So the fact that they responded the way that we hoped that they would when we were putting it together is very satisfying.

Q: Have you heard a reaction from "normal" audience?

Feige: Not yet. These are the first people who have every seen it. Of course there will be teasers in theaters down the line, but this is the very first audience that saw it.

Q: What's the story about Hilary Swank?

Feige: Hilary Swank. There are a lot of rumors going around. See if you can get [answers] out of Jon. There are a lot of rumors going around, a shocking amount of rumors, which are pretty funny.

And a lot of rumor that people are just spouting about as if they're true, when you start seeing people listed in the cast you think, "Wow! That's interesting! They put these people in the cast. Do you remember them being on the set? No? OK. Alright."

I like all the rumors. I like the anticipation. I like all the people spinning different theories. So lets see what new ones keep popping up.

Q: What about Sam Jackson as Nick Fury?

Feige: That's all the same rumors. Sam Jackson and Hilary Swank and all these things...

Q: So that's not...?

Feige: I'm not going to confirm any of them. Let people keep talking about it. We'll see.

I think as Jon may have said, there have been a lot of rumors online with this movie and out of all of them I think only one is rooted in any kind of reality. We'll let people guess which one that is.

Q: You mean his cameo?

Feige: Jon's cameo...I think that one may have been proven true today.

Q: Did you make Jon's hair look fake on purpose?

Feige: Jon wanted to appear...he didn't want it to be "Hey, Jon Favreau!" He wanted to blend back there. He's the director.

Q: How was it filming Stan Lee's Cameo?

Feige: Stan Lee's Cameos are always a lot of fun and this one is...let's just say it's a Tony Stark Specific cameo.

Q: At a party, right?

Feige: It involves a party, yes.

Q: How

Feige: We've been finished for about a month. We've spent a good amount of time working on that piece, getting that finished.

Jon is in the editing room now. As soon as he gets done with [Comic-Con] he goes back in there and he'll be in there for weeks and weeks, putting it together, getting the visual effects ready, over the next eight or nine months.

Q: Were you said on the practical effects vs. CGI or did Jon have to convince you that.

Feige: No, no, we were sold, but there's not one over the other. There's an equal amount.

Even that, in itself, is a rarity nowadays but certainly if you've seen the Mark I suite downstairs, it just lends itself to it and looks so good, why do something CG if you can do it in real life. There'll be a lot, as you began to see at the end of the piece, there're a tremendous amount of CG effects in the film.

Q: Who is doing the CGI?

Feige: There are a few houses but the main house is ILM, with a lot of the 'Pirates' animators and 'Transformers' animators.

Q: Talks about the 'Iron Man' franchise. Have there been discussions?

Feige: There are always discussions. When you put the first movie together you can't help but talk about the next one, about where you'd like it to go. But the truth is, I say this a lot, we do focus on one movie at a time in each franchise.

The elements that you feel that will make the best story, the best introduction of the character to a wide audience, and there's elements that don't fit in there that we keep with us and start to reapproach.

We've talked about War Machine, and we've talked about various other villains and all sorts of things if we should continue the story, if we should be so lucky.

Q: What about The Avengers? How could you bring the elements of these movies together?

Feige: The only way you could do it is if somehow, one studio had the rights to 'Iron Man' and 'Captain America' and 'Thor' and...wait a minute...

[press room laughs]

Wait a minute!

Q: But what about the schedule of all these peoples and the logistics of it?

Feige: The truth is, if we can do an X-Men film with 15-20 big name actors and get them all scheduled, you could do that. It could be done.

Q: Paltrow has been out of the mix for a while. How did you lure her into this movie?

Feige: The truth is we got a call from her, I got a call from her agency. We were meeting with a lot of actresses and we were gearing up to do a big audition session and I got a call from her agent.

I didn't believe them! I said, "She'd be amazing. She'd be great but, you know, really?

They go, "No. No. She wants to do a movie like this and she loves Robert and she loves Jon and she loves what Marvel's been doing"

And it ended up coming together very quickly, surprising even me. She's been great and obviously coming down here today. The fans have really responded to her and she's having a great time. It's very cool.

The cast that came together on this film, it couldn't have been better.

Q: This movie has drama and action and so many compelling elements? Why did it take so long to come together?

Feige: These movies happen when the time is right and we've developed a number of scripts over the years, and other studios have had the rights over the years.

We ended up getting the rights back at a certain point. It was the point when we were just embarking on our own studio, and we said, "Now is the time for Iron Man."

Each step of the way we're not sure what's next. It all depends how the script's gonna come in, what director's gonna come on board, what cast is going to come together. Until those things gel, the movie doesn't happen. As you see around this room here with the various actors involved, it just came together at the right time.

Q: Is this going to be a stealth superhero movie? Iron Man's not a huge pop-culture icon, but people went crazy for that footage. I think the general audiences will respond too.

Feige: I think so. I think any notoriety or familiarity that people have with a character is great. That means we have a little bit of a head start, but the truth is every movie has to win an audience in with a poster, with a trailer, with TV spots, you need to convince the audience why they should see this movie.

And that's how you market a film and that's how I think it's gonna come together, whether everyone in the world knows the characters or not. And come May 2nd it'll be our job to make sure that everyone knows who 'Iron Man' is.

Q: Is there a Stan Lee Cameo in this movie?

Feige: Yeah.

Q: How would you differentiate 'Iron Man' from the other superheroes?

Feige: What's great about him is, he's 100% human, and like a lot of Marvel characters has flaws that come along with his humanity. What I love about him is his intellect. If he has a super power, it's his intellect and he uses that to get himself out of a jam, which you saw a little bit of that today, to concoct the greatest high-tech invention of all time.

He's not dealing with any sort of genetic mutation. While I love those as much as anybody else, because they're my bread and butter, I think it's pretty cool for people to see somebody do something and say, "I could be in that suit." There's a wish fulfillment that comes with that.

Being in that suit. Taking that journey. Having the guts to invent something and try to launch yourself up into the sky.

Q: Iron Man has become a central figure in the comics. Is that because of the movie?

Feige: Iron Man has always been, while the movie going audience may not be familiar with him because he hasn't had a movie yet, he's about as big as they come in the comic world. He's the leader of the Avengers. More recently, as you're pointing out, he's got a big role in the comics. That's just what Iron Man is. He's such a top-notch character.

I think the fact that we're doing the movie gave it a little more forefront, but the truth is he's always been a marquee character in the comics world.

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