Is Iron Man 2 falling apart?

Something fishy is going down at Marvel offices. Since Iron Man opened to spectacular acclaim in May last year, everyone knew a sequel was close behind. However, in the last six months, they almost lost the director, cast members have been dropped, and newly signed villains are on the verge of quitting. So what does this mean for one of the most highly anticipated films of 2010?

It all began in June, when Marvel announced their upcoming slate of films. Following the bajillion dollar gross of Iron Man one month prior, it was no surprise to see Iron Man 2 penciled in for 2010. But then director Jon Favreau – who was obviously incredibly influential to the film’s greatness – announced that Marvel had not signed yet signed him up for the sequel.

Well, everyone freaked. Thankfully, after a month of nervous anticipation, Favreau was signed (with a well deserved pay bump). Robert Downey Jr also signed on to reprise his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man, and we all thought that there would be no more bad news from the Iron Man camp. Tropic Thunder scribe Justin Theroux was attached to write the sequel, while original writers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby moved onto The Avengers. All was good.

Then came October, and the lowballing-saga continued. Marvel announced that Terrence Howard would NOT be reprising his role as Jim ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes in Iron Man 2, and therefore would not become War Machine (despite Howard promising us he would WITHIN the first film).
The reason for Howard’s unexpected exit turned out to be salary related. Since he was the first person signed to the cast of the first film, he received the biggest pay. Yes, bigger than star Robert Downey Jr and Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow. Combined with the fact that Favreau was (allegedly) unhappy with Howard’s performance, it looked as if he would either be getting a pay cut, or nothing at all. He received the latter.

In stepped the great Don Cheadle to take on Rhodey, and it was hard to complain. After all, here is an equally, if not more talented actor taking up the role. For the time being, skepticism died down. Iron Man 2 could still be good.

Earlier this year, rumours hit the interweb like a seismic wave of awesomeness. Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell and Emily Blunt were all in talks to play villains in the sequel. Now, ignoring the traditional lameness of a superhero film with too many villains (see here), this was great news. Three great actors all in line to join an already great cast.

Rourke was rumoured to be playing either Crimson Dynamo (an armour-wearing Russian villain) or Whiplash (a brilliant engineer turned nemesis). Rockwell was in line to play Tony Stark’s multibillionaire enemy. Emily Blunt meanwhile was offered the role of Black Widow, a Russian super-spy.

Then, terrible news. A Variety article confirmed that the worldwide credit crunch had hit movie studios as well, with Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke being offered – wait for it – $250,000 to be in Iron Man 2. To put that in perspective, the teenage stars of Twilight will each be receiving $12 million for appearing in the sequel New Moon. I’m sorry – is this backwards day?

Then came this bombshell – and it really hurt. Samuel L. Jackson announced furiously (pun intended) that contract talks had broken down between him and Marvel. Eagle eyed viewers know that Sam Jackson turned up after the credits of Iron Man as Nick Fury (head of the Avenger Initiative) sending Fanboys worldwide into a collective state of elated pleasure.

But once again, Marvel, like some sort of mobster discussing money in the back of a butcher shop, offered Jackson buckleys. As Jackson said himself: “maybe somebody else will be Nick Fury or maybe Nick Fury won’t be in it.” Now there are doubts as to Fury’s involvement in Iron Man 2, and even The Avengers (due 2011).

But wait, there’s more. Emily Blunt is currently contracted to 20th Century Fox, who held her option following The Devil Wears Prada. She was recently cast alongside Jack Black and Jason Segal in Fox’s remake of Gulliver’s Travels. Only problem is – you guessed it – filming coincides with production on Iron Man 2. Blunt’s reps are trying to work out a suitable schedule, with Gulliver beginning production in March and IM2 getting started in April. However, if a schedule can’t be figured out, Gulliver’s Travels holds preference.

So let’s look at the facts – IM2 begins principal photography in just over two months, and Marvel expects the film to hit cinemas one year later (May 7th, 2010). However, the cast is still not firm, and depending on Blunt, Jackson and Rourke, the script may even require a rewrite.

They say lightning only strikes once, and when it comes to movies, sometimes not even that often. Iron Man was a rare beast – an engaging, thought provoking, funny and exciting superhero movie that was both realistic and insanely fun. The reasons? A great director who knew what he was doing, a solid cast, and a brilliant script.

Most importantly, they had a young studio willing to back a relatively unknown hero, and put their faith in people who know what they are doing. So what in the world is Marvel doing this time around? Are they intent on destroying everything that was great about Iron Man 1?

But look, let’s not all panic. I am still CONVINCED, that Iron Man 2 is going to be a brilliant flick. There are smart people on both sides of the camera – it just so happens that the people with the checkbook aren’t so clever.

What do you think about all this brouhaha? Do you still have faith in Iron Man 2 or other Marvel projects?

One Response to “Is Iron Man 2 falling apart?”

  1. Hi,I am a Chinese,you can call me william,I found your blog in Google,I had watched Iorn Man severl times.I think it is a great movie,do you think so?I want to talk about the movit with you,maybe you can send mail me when you free,my adress is weiyu1988921@163.com. Thank you.

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