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Favreau At The Helm
Marvel was faced with the challenge of finding a director who could not only handle the technical aspects of executing a large-scale action film, but more importantly could infuse the story with the human element that so dominated the comic book characters. For the creative team at Marvel, the potential list of directors began and ended with Jon Favreau, who had previously directed the films "Made,” the blockbuster comedy "Elf” and the critically acclaimed sci-fi adventure "Zathura.”

"We got to know Jon when he played Foggy in ‘Daredevil,'” recalls Avi Arad. "I liked all the movies he directed, but I was most impressed with 'Zathura.' So many of my friend's kids saw that film five or six times and I kept hearing how much they loved it. Jon is a great storyteller and smart filmmaker with a deep love and appreciation for the Marvel brand and Iron Man character. "Also,” Arad continues, "to pull this film off we really needed a director who was tuned in to what was going on in the world today, both politically and socially. Jon possessed all of these characteristics.”

For producer Kevin Feige, Favreau fit perfectly into the stable of great storytellers who made the leap to action blockbusters courtesy of Marvel Films. "Jon fits the mold exactly of the kind of director we like to hire for our films. He's done great movies in the past, but this one has the biggest canvas by far. When you have a filmmaker who has the vision and the passion like Jon does, and can bring his unique sense of character to this grand spectacle, you know you'll end up with a Marvel movie that is a cut above the rest.”

For Favreau, the chance to create a new superhero for the screen was one that he couldn't pass up. "I grew up reading Marvel Comics,” he says. "It's an exciting challenge to direct ‘Iron Man' because he's the biggest character in the original pantheon of the Marvel universe who has never had a movie made about him. I come from the independent film world, and what I like to think I bring to the table is the ability to tell a story in a simple, relatable way that brings out the humor in situations, as well as the humanity of the characters. One of the great assets of Marvel Comics is that the heroes are very human and flawed. Marvel began when the iconography of the superhero was larger-than-life. They were usually flawless paradigms of integrity. But Marvel changed the landscape by creating superheroes with their own shortcomings and a recognizable humanity that is enjoyable and interesting to explore.”

For executive producer Billingsley, a longtime friend and colleague of Favreau's who has served as a co-producer on "Made” and "Zathura,” adapting "Iron Man” played into all the director's filmmaking strengths. "Jon came aboard on ‘Iron Man' while the script was being developed. Since the Iron Man comic books offer such a vast amount of plots and storylines, it's easy to get lost among the myriad of options available,” observes Billingsley. "But in all the previous films Jon has written and directed there is one common denominator – strong, compelling storytelling.”

With Favreau signed onto the project a year before principal photography was to begin, the director began the long and arduous task of guiding the development of a screenplay based on a Marvel character who had been in existence for over 40 years, with a wealth of available stories from the more than 600 issues published over the years.

"What separates ‘Iron Man' from a lot of the other superhero films is that there is just as much emphasis on story as there is on action,” notes Billingsley. "Jon was given the responsibility of coming up with the best notion of what the story would entail and he really carried the burden of birthing this comic book franchise into a film franchise.”

Screenwriters Art Marcum & Matt Ho

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