The stars of Iron Man 2 descended on the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills on Friday for a press junket in support of the movie and ReelzChannel was there. Originally scheduled to take place in London, both the junket and the premiere had to be shuffled stateside at the last minute because of the fallout from the volcanic activity in Iceland.
Director Jon Favreau was the point man of the junket, but title star Robert Downey Jr. was the real center of the event, playfully chiding Favreau and his co-stars, cracking one-liners, and even stepping up to save the day when the Iron Man 2 banner that served as a backdrop came tumbling down.
Here are the top 10 highlights, sound bites and just plain funny moments from the junket, in no specific order.
1. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige attempted to clarify how Iron Man 2 fits into the "shared universe" timeline leading up to The Avengers ... and ended up revealing an "Easter egg" tying Iron Man 2 to The Incredible Hulk.
[Iron Man 2] takes place before, but if you pay attention towards the end of the film, you'll see a little clue that tells you it happened before The Incredible Hulk.
2. Actress Scarlett Johansson's explanation of why her character, the Black Widow, is so much more than just a "sex symbol."
I've never really seen a film of this genre where the female characters' were — that their sex appeal sort of came second. Of course, they are sexy characters and you have a sexy secretary or a girl, you know, swinging around by her ankles in a catsuit, that's innately sexy. But, the fact is these characters are intelligent, they're ambitious, they're motivated and calculated to some degree.... It's really kind of old fashioned, actually, in the best sense of the word. These characters are kind of like those old femme fatales from the golden age of Hollywood.
3. Downey, Jr. referenced his troubled past when asked if he ever used to dress up as a superhero growing up, bringing down the house with his answer.
Growing up, no. But, in my mid-thirties, in Palm Springs right before an arrest, yes. It was a premonition.
4. Favreau revealed that the inspiration for Mickey Rourke's character, Ivan Vanko aka Whiplash, came from Viggo Mortensen.
I met with Mickey at this hotel ... and I brought him some artwork. And, Whiplash in the comic books is a guy wearing tights with a big plume, a big purple feather coming out of the top. That's not what we wanted. But what's the tech version of that? And, so we were thinking of — we were concocting a version of a Russian, you know, thinking of Viggo in Eastern Promises and tattoos and that could be a cool in.
5. Actor Don Cheadle pointed out a major difference between the suit of armor worn by his character and that worn by Downey, Jr.
Well, I don't know why, but the War Machine suit was actually made of metal and [the Iron Man suit] was made of light, fiberglass material. But, I think it was just an initiation thing.
6. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow said that the success of Iron Man has a lot to do with how the movie was able to appeal to an audience not usually targeted by superhero movies.
I think it's a very smart decision, actually, to have women who are capable and intelligent because it appeals to women. You know, it's not only a film for 15-year-old boys, it's a film that can relate to a lot of people on a lot of levels.... I think it makes it so that, when you take your kid if you're a mom, it's really fun for you to watch, as well. It's fun to see women who are kind of aspirational and smart and sexy all at the same time.
7. Favreau admitted that, despite the addition of several new characters, he wanted to streamline the story in Iron Man 2 because even he has a hard time remembering what happened in the first movie.
The characters — the trick is to feather them in so they don't overwhelm the story and you don't suffer from villainitis.... So, we really try to keep narrative flows going so it didn't get too convoluted. I lose track of that stuff ... I don't always remember what happened in the last movie. Not for nothing, I like to watch the stuff blow up, but I don't want to have to do homework to go see a sequel ... so we tried to keep that simple.
8. When asked whether there was still any talk of Johansson possibly leading a solo Black Widow spin-off movie, as was rumored at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, Feige said, "Yes, absolutely," and Favreau added, "Hell, yes!"
9. Actor Sam Rockwell, who joins the cast as Justin Hammer, was the only lead actor not in attendance at the junket. When asked about his absence, Favreau said that he was currently doing a play and then discussed how he almost landed the lead role of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man.
Well, we were putting a list together long before I even met with Robert. And, I thought of him as sort of an untraditional, interesting, other way to go as we were listing a lot of younger actors that didn't have a lot of experience, that were a little more traditionally, uh, what you would think for a superhero role.... But, as Justin Hammer, I think you see a cool, goofy image of — Justin Hammer wishes he was Tony Stark and [Sam] really embraced that aspect of the character and I think it's fun for that way. He has a ball with it.
10. During the final set of questions, the large Iron Man 2 banner that served as a backdrop to the stage fell down. Downey, Jr., ever the showman, immediately turned the startling moment into a hilarious send-up of the earlier question about Sam Rockwell's absence from the junket.
Ladies and gentlemen, Sam Rockwell!
Downey, Jr. then leapt up and attempted to re-hang the banner. When that failed, he simply held up the portion of it bearing the image of Pepper Potts behind Paltrow's head as she continued to answer the question she had been answering when it fell down. Downey, Jr. then joked that he felt "strangely self-conscious" and sat back down.