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Off To The Races
The international setting of the Monaco Historic Grand Prix as the backdrop for one of the film's biggest set pieces was also an important aspect of the evolution of Tony Stark, who the world now knows is Iron Man.

"In this film it was important for us to showcase that Iron Man is a global super hero because he is in the comics,” says Feige. "Spider-Man is very much focused in New York City and a lot of the Marvel characters are focused in certain regions, but Iron Man is absolutely worldwide. He can take off out of Malibu in the suit and be halfway around the world a few hours later.”

"In the first film we had Tony in Las Vegas, but we had to go a step further and think much bigger,” says director Favreau. "Las Vegas is for millionaires, but Monte Carlo is for billionaires, and the idea of having a set piece in Monaco was really exciting for me. Part of the difficulty with these super hero movies is that everything has been done before—so how do you make it different? There are only so many scenarios—so the incorporation of a James Bond-type of panache to Tony Stark's lifestyle and having his super hero adventures overlap into his personal life seemed cool, and the idea of shooting in Monte Carlo during the Monaco Historic Grand Prix was a compelling one.”

"In ‘Iron Man 2,' Tony races a vintage Stark racing car in the Monaco Historic Grand Prix. Howard Stark sponsored race cars back in the 1970's and Tony pays tribute to his father's legacy by racing one of those classic cars every other year without fail in this historic race,” explains Feige. "People point out to Tony that competing in the race is an irresponsible act for a guy who has clearly put himself in the crosshairs of nefarious elements around the world. He isn't living a responsible life and starts to feel the pressure of being a super hero. He wants to blow off some steam so he enters the race at the last minute. He ends up getting into trouble, and to have the set piece be on the Monaco circuit mid-race is a spectacle to behold and something that expands the scope and global nature of the movie.”

For the filmmakers, staging the massive sequence first required a scouting trip to Monaco during which they met with Prince Albert of Monaco.

"When the idea of shooting in Monaco was being bounced around we went there to see if it was possible and met with Prince Albert, who was a very nice and gracious host,” says director Favreau. "He was into it after we presented what our vision was for the sequence and how it reflected well on the city. We scouted the race course, which takes place in the city streets. We basically walked the entire track and took pictures which gave us a real good sense of what we wanted to do. We did a whole presentation on what the Stark racing car would be like and showed the official designs we had done because they take their racing very seriously there.”

The director continues: "Since we couldn't bring the entire production to Monaco, we identified what section of the race course we wanted to duplicate and shot plates there days before the race so that we could capture all the stands and signage. We then built the same section of the track that was used as a foreground in which we could actually flip cars, do explosions, and have thousands of people in the stands, which were built to replicate the actual stands in Monaco.”

Recreating a big crash sequence during the Monaco Historic Grand Prix was a collaborative effort between all of the production's departments under Favreau's watchful eye. "Dealing with race cars is like having a thoroughbred race horse around,” laughs D'Esposito. "They're very expensive and temperamental. You can only start them up once because it takes twelve people to do it and there is a whole team to keep the car running.<

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