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IRON MAN

About The Production
With casting completed, the filmmakers made the decision to set the film in Los Angeles. With key locations that included Edwards Air Force Base, historic "Movie Road” in Lone Pine, CA and the Playa Vista Stages, director Jon Favreau explains his decision to make Iron Man a West Coast superhero.

"'Iron Man' is an adventure that takes you around the globe,” says Favreau. "The character of Tony Stark is a guy who's involved in the whole geopolitical landscape, which really opened up our world. I wanted to set this film on the West Coast even though the Iron Man comic is traditionally set in New York, as are all the Marvel superhero comics. I wanted a different look, so instead of having Iron Man flying between New York City buildings, we have the ocean and mountains of the West Coast in the film. I also felt shooting in Los Angeles tied in with the roots of the whole Howard Hughes influence and the history-of-flight aspect.”

Principal photography began at the Playa Vista Stages in Playa Vista, California, on the west side of Los Angeles. The stages would serve as home base for the production, with a majority of the film shot on two stages whose history can be directly linked to Howard Hughes.

"When we were looking for stages in Los Angeles that would be large enough for all the sets we had to build, we turned to the Playa Vista Stages,” recalls Favreau. "We thought it was really cool because it was Howard Hughes' old assembly factory and the place where the wings for the Spruce Goose were originally built.”

"When you make movies, they take on a sort of mythic life of their own,” adds executive producer Billingsley. "It's no coincidence that our sound stages are the two hangars where Howard Hughes worked. Hughes originally inspired Stan Lee when he was creating Tony Stark, and in this film the character is a real blend of wealth, genius and fame.”

The first sequences shot on the stages took place in the cave set where Tony Stark is held captive and forced to build his company's Jericho missile for Raza, the leader of a group of insurgents in the Middle East. Tony, against the advice of his fellow captive Yinsen, begins to build what will become the first suit of armor he wears in the film. Following his director's mantra of keeping the film as authentic as possible, J. Michael Riva, who designed the production, was faced with the challenge of creating a set that looked and felt like a rugged cave in the mountains of Afghanistan.

"The really fun part about building the cave was dressing the set,” explains Riva. "When you're locked up in a place for two or three months by terrorists, presuming that you're not being 'water-boarded' the big question becomes ‘how do you live? What's the daily routine'? Now Robert, who has had some first-hand knowledge of what it's like to be held captive, brought some of his own very revealing ideas to the cave dressing that made our job easier and gave it an authenticity – things like how to make tea with a sock and how you make a backgammon set out of nothing. We lived in the cave overnight before we started shooting to really feel it out.”

Riva continues: "One of the things I discovered in my research of truly remote caves is how cold they really are. I saw some footage of a cave interior in Tora Bora, Afghanistan. In it, a Taliban fighter is being interviewed and you can see his breath. So I convinced Jon Favreau we should ‘freeze' the set. We built an air conditioning system into the cave and had cold air coming out of the actors' mouths for days — something everybody hates me for to this day — but it was very effective and really showed the harsh contrast of being held captive — especially for a billionaire like Tony Stark. Robert and the rest of the cast loved it. And so did Jon.”

While the production was shooting the c

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