When I was in LA for the red carpet premiere of OZ The Great And Powerful, I got to do a lot of exciting things. One of those things I haven’t even been allowed to mention until now. We were able to see a portion of Iron Man 3, due out later this year, and then to talk with Kevin Feige, the President of Production at Marvel Studios. The clip we saw was like 15 minutes long and it was sooooooo good! In the piece of Iron Man 3 that we saw, people clearly want Tony Stark dead. They launch an attack on his home while Tony and Pepper are dealing with a visitor – one of Tony’s ex-girlfriends. A lot of the house falls down into the ocean, bringing Tony along with it. Tony does get out of the water. The suit looks really cool in this movie, in that the suit sort of puts itself on. Tony flies to a rural community in another part of the country, where he meets a boy named Harley. There’s also a piece where Pepper wears the suit, which I thought was great. I don’t have all of the storyline for the movie, but in our interview with Kevin Feige he was able to give us a couple of pieces of information about the storyline.
Here’s what Kevin Feige had to say about the lengthy clip from the movie that we saw.
KF : In front of OZ is going to be the final payoff trailer to Iron Man 3. It’ll be online a week or so before that. Nobody’s seen it. It’s ninety-eight percent finished – unless it’s totally finished, it’s very close to being finished.
This is what is going to be unveiled on the world, in a matter of weeks, and then again in front of OZ, and afterwards I’ll talk a little bit more on that. In coming off the heels of Avengers, we wanted to focus on Tony. Seeing him with the Hulk and Iron Man, and Thor, obviously was awesome and was our big event last Summer. This time we wanted to return to Tony’s world. His place in Malibu, which is why you see him with Pepper. And we wanted to remind the audience, yes the suits are cool, but it’s his intellect that is really his super power.
And if you’ll remember the beginning of Iron Man 1, he’s in a cave. He doesn’t have access to anything, and he ends up building his first Iron Man suit. So what we wanted to do in this movie was put him in a similar position. Take away everything from Tony and see how he can fight the villain back. Now I’m going to show you a fun sequence today, that essentially is that moment. Things are going more or less swimmingly for Tony. He’s a little nervous. He’s got a little bit of anxiety after the events of the Avengers.
He’s been to outer space, he’s seen aliens, he’s seen green people, he’s seen guys with hammers, and he’s just a guy. So it sometimes worries him and he thinks maybe I’m only super if I’m in the suit. This movie is the movie that reminds him he’s super, even out of his suit. He just has to sort of figure that out. So I’m going to show you a sequence now where everything that Tony has, particularly this mansion, is destroyed. He’s got a barely working suit, and he finds himself investigating a mystery that we set up at the beginning of the movie.
Happy Hogan is again played by Jon Favreau, who is one of Tony Stark’s best friends. Is hurt, seemingly an attack by the new villain as Mandarin, a terrorist in this world. And he’s going to investigate who this terrorist is and where he can find him. And it leads him to a place Tony’s never been in any of the movies, which is the middle of the good old US of A. He’s in small town, Rose Hill, Tennessee. And he meets a boy. So you’re going to see the sequence from the house, through this encounter with the boy, and then I’ll give you a little explanation.
We really wanted him to be fighting for his friends, for the love of his life, Pepper, who wants to see him in an are that he’s not. He’s comfortable in the Penthouses of Manhattan, in mansions in Malibu. Here he is in the middle of Tennessee with his hat pulled low and he’s trying to do this investigation. And this very sweet and funny relationship that he begins with this little boy. Again, reminding the audience he’s a superhero, he’s frankly our most famous superhero, all because he’s got a very intelligent, scientific mind. So here, a little sequence with the trials and tribulations with Tony.
KF : …behind the scenes with the suit that doesn’t look perfect yet, but it’s on its way. That little kid is named Tyson. We had this idea to team him up with a little kid for a section of the movie. And it was a little bit scary. We auditioned lots and lots of kids and Tyson came in and was just a real kid. He could barely keep a straight face looking at Robert.
He bonded with Robert completely. I called Robert, I said, I think he’s the best kid, I’m going to cast him. He said, let me call him. So I called his mom, and I said what time does he get out of school and what’s his cell phone? And when he came out of school, his cell phone rang and it was Robert Downey, Jr. calling saying, you’re going to be in Iron Man 3. And so it continued like that for the rest of the production. It was really great and they formed a nice bond.
And it is a fun bond. Tony does not treat him like a kid necessarily. He goes on in this scene and he doesn’t pat him on the head and treat him like a little boy necessarily. Which I think little boys like when adults don’t treat them like that. We’ve screened it for a few audiences just in a normal test screening, and this relationship is ranked as one of the most surprising, and unique, and new things about the movie. Which was exciting because it was one of the scary things.
We’ve never really had a little kid that had that big a part in any of our films. So that was exciting. The rest of the movie continues with action. You got a taste there, and the reason we brought this clip is you can see the action packed very loud sequences in the movie – of which there are many – and the quiet sort of poignant unexpected scenes of which there are many in this movie with Ty, with Pepper, and it goes on, uh, and it goes on from there.
You got a little taste at the very end of the trailer, that there are a lot of suits in this movie. While it is both a movie in which he spends quite a bit of time outside of the suit, as you see it’s not working and he’s with Ty in Tennessee, by the end of it we reveal that underneath the house, which is now covered with rubble, he’s got dozens and dozens of suits. And once all that rubble gets pulled aside by construction cranes, just when he needs him, he calls him to the rescue and we have what I think is the biggest most action packed finale we’ve had.
I showed the film to Joss Whedon who is our writer-director of Avengers, is currently working on Avengers 2, and he saw the finale of this and he goes, now what am I supposed to do now? What am I going to do in Avengers 2? So anyway, thank you for looking. If you have any questions please ask me.
Then the floor opened up for us to speak with Kevin. Here are some of highlights from the interview.
Q : When he’s working with the little boy Ty,
KF : The character’s name is Harley.
Q : Harley. Do you see a lot of smart-aleckness of Tony Stark in him, with the little boy, or did you soften it up and you miss some of that?
KF : Uh, no. He is quite the smart-aleck with the little boy, oh yes. And the boy is shocked at first, and then slowly begins to sort of give as good as he gets from Tony. So that certainly continues.
Q : Women and action movies are not necessarily words that are synonymous, but Marvel has really done a good job of getting women interested. Avengers was something women were really drawn to. How much though do you put into bringing the female audience in?
KF : Well, I mean we want these movies to play for everyone. We think they are for everyone. And I don’t know that we necessarily sit down and go, how do we make men like this movie? How do we make women like this movie? We don’t do that. But part of what we love about our characters is they’re human, they’re flawed. They react even with aliens coming at them and armored suits flying at them and villains shooting rays at them. The way they respond to those situations, we try to make it as emotionally truthful as possible.
So we want the most fantastic thing to be the outer space elements of Avengers. The advanced technology of Iron Man. Let that be the comic book element. But the human interaction should be real. It should be as real as possible. I think that appeals to people who might not just love the explosions and the loud noises and the clacking and the repulsing. In this franchise in particular, it’s sort of unique, frankly. This is now the fourth movie, if you count Avengers with Iron Man.
And he’s been with the same woman the whole time, and the relationship just grows. And the relationship gets deeper and deeper. And in this film they live together. And, you saw a little bit of the banter with Rebecca Hall who plays a new character, Maya. But the truth of the matter is, the love triangle in this movie is really between Tony, Pepper and the suits. Tony, Pepper and his obsession with those suits, and the obsession with technology. It’s sort of unique for a big superhero Summer blockbuster franchise to have, I think, that kind of layers.
And that really is…yes there’s a bad guy, yes the stakes are very, very high, the President of the United States is in danger. You saw in the trailer Air Force One is attacked. There are big stakes to this movie. But the real stakes are, is Tony going to be able to set aside the obsession to spend all day, every day in that workshop, tinkering with the suits in order to focus on, as he says in the trailer, the one thing that matters most – Pepper. Aand that actually is what the entire movie’s about.
As we lead into the finale, yes he has to save the world, but it’s really about the relationship between those two. Which it was not the case with James Bond or Indiana Jones or pick your leading male hero. So I think that’s unique. But that’s also what it is in the comics. And that’s what we want to bring to life on the screen.
Q : Can you talk about Marvel working with Disney?
KF : Well, I’ll tell you a few things. One is, I’m obsessed with Disney and with Disney theme parks, and when I was first told by the heads of Marvel, that, what do you think of Disney? We’re thinking of selling the company. I was like…I pulled out my wallet, I got the annual pass, the Disney DVC membership, all of that stuff, because I was just obsessed with it. That’s what my family did, was go to the Disney theme parks every year. And still do, over New Years down in Florida.
So I sort of loved that, and I thought it was great. But I thought…and I understood why they wanted us, because they didn’t have, you know, necessarily things for boys and for that market. And they were very great in early meetings we had with them. They said, like Pixar, we like what you’re doing. We want you to keep doing what you’re doing. And that was, I don’t know, two years ago now. Two or three years ago. And that has certainly held true. They’ve let us make the movies we want to make the way we make them.
The best thing, and Avengers is the perfect example of it, is what they can tap into. Groups like yourselves. All of the marketing that they bring to it. The passion that they bring to it. They did a spectacular job with marketing the Avengers. And tapping into everything that a company as huge as Disney can do. But at the same time, what I love most about them is, despite it being the biggest entertainment conglomerate on earth, I think it is, it’s Disney. And it can be very personal.
And as we hope to get into more of the parks and things like that, I want kids to be able to come experience Marvel the way I would go experience the Disney parks. And still do. I mean it’s been very positive in the fact that we have a home now. Well, the first Iron Man film, the second Iron Man film, for Captain America were distributed by another studio, who did a very good job with those movies, but it was just sort of a side arrangement we had with them. We were one of a number of things they were distributing.
It is clearly a family here with Disney and they put everything into it when the movie comes out.
Q : As a mother of two teenagers, I appreciate you’re having a positive role model, as far as modeling relationships. Is that something you intended from the beginning?
KF : Well, you know, Tony, Pepper, was always the most important relationship to Tony Stark in the comics. That’s not always true. I guess Clark Kent has Lois Lane, right. That said. A lot of the other characters don’t have that. The Marvel characters sort of do. Thor has the Natalie Portman character who continues into the next Thor film. So we do pull it all from the comics and that is what it was. It really fun to us in the beginning of Iron Man 1.
He goes to Vegas, he sleeps with a reporter, to sort of set up that, so that the relationship with Pepper, there’s a flashback at the beginning of this movie with the Rebecca Hall character that shows what he was like many years ago, before he became Iron Man. And you see a little bit of that playboy. But the fact is, you always want to remind audiences of that side of him, so you can appreciate how, sort of mature he’s getting. That he’s putting all that aside to be with her. The other thing is, the chemistry between Robert and Gwyneth is spectacular.
And, with each movie we go, okay, do we want to bring her back? Yes, of course. Because it’s just so strong. You know, the marketing to Avengers, you may remember the big line, Steve Rogers, Captain America says, you know, without a suit of armor what are you? And he says, billionaire playboy, philanthropist, whatever. And even Robert would go, I’m not really a playboy anymore. And I’d say, the line’s good, it’s okay. It’s fun. But even he was like, I’m not really a playboy. And he’s not.
And even in Avengers, you can tell how close he is with Pepper and that, in those few scenes together. And when he’s flying up to save the planet, he calls her. That’s the one call. So we just love, frankly, that it’s unique in these kind of movies. We think it’s an important relationship between them.
Q : Avengers was marketed towards families, this one seems a little more intense. How do you perceive the marketing?
KF : Well, all of our movies are PG-13. I know parents who take their four year olds, and I know parents who won’t let their kids see them until they’re thirteen. So that really, it all depends on that. For us, there are things you can do if you are going by the letter of the law in a PG-13 movie. There’s a level of violence you can add, there’s a level of sexuality you can have, there’s a level of language you can have. We never go anywhere near that, top of that. Because we don’t want to. Because that’s not what our characters are about.
When you have the amount of fighting and explosions and some blood on his nose when he puts the suit on, we do want that. We want it to be real. Otherwise it’s just a CG thing hitting a CG person. So that’s why we’re always in that PG-13 range. But Jon Favreau on the first two movies, Joss Whedon on the Avengers, myself, we have kids. We want to be able to take our kids to these movies, um, and to enjoy them. It’s really the level of intensity that determines whether parents are comfortable taking their kids to it as opposed to content, necessarily.
And in terms of the marketing of this movie, if you go back and look at the marketing of Avengers, it promises a much darker important movie than the movie actually is. The movie is much more fun than the trailer would show. Same thing with this. This trailer is, he’s being blown apart, his life is at stake, how will he get out of it? The movie is much, much funner. Much more fun than that, but that’s what gets people into the audience. Is he gonna get killed? I gotta go see this. What’s gonna happen? Thank goodness, that’s what we want.
In terms of what differentiates it, I mean I do think that there’s a legacy with Marvel, and there’s a history with Marvel. And you have grandparents and parents and kids and little kids that know them whether they read them. I’ve met people that are eighty years old, ninety years old, that talk about reading a Captain American comic in the…I don’t know if they were actually in the trenches, but somewhere- at some point in World War II. And I had a three year old, uh, a nephew, and I have a four year old daughter who asked me all about Iron Man.
Does he fly? Is he a robot? Is he? What is it? Because of the toys. Or because of the pajamas, or because of the shoes. And I love that about Marvel. I love that it can stay cool and relevant from a two year old to a twelve year old to a twenty-two year old to a ninety-two year old. That’s important to us. How we do it differently? I can’t really tell you, other than to say, we always just focus on the character. It always starts with, what do want this character to go through? What mission do we want the character…?
What emotional sort of depth and growth do we want him to go through? Then we think of all the cool stuff to put him through, as opposed to, oh I always wanted to see Iron Man’s house fall into the sea. We don’t start there. We start with, what is the character journey we want to take him on? And we really do. We call him Tony Stark, not Iron Man. When we’re just in our own meetings, we refer to Captain America as Steve. We refer to Thor as Thor. We refer to Hulk as Bruce. Because these are, you know, real people that we want to continue to flush out movie to movie to movie.
Q : Any chance of Pepper taking on more time in the suit and become a character herself? (NOTE: This was actually my question. I was asking if we might see pepper as a superhero at some point.)
KF : Uh, I will tell you this. In this movie we play with the convention of the damsel in distress. We are bored by the damsel in distress. But, sometimes you want, we need our hero to be desperate enough in fighting for something other than just his own life. So, there is fun to be had with, is Pepper in danger or is Pepper the savior over the course of this movie.
In terms of where we go with future movies, we’ll see. In the comic books she does get a taste for the suit and becomes her own hero named Rescue, who doesn’t necessarily battle other people, but it is on missions to help people and to save people. Will we do that down the line with Gwyneth Paltrow? Who knows. But it’s certainly something…her being in the suit is something we have been playing with since Iron Man 2. Where we did some designs and it didn’t end up fitting in that movie. But, but the little taste you saw here is something that we’re certainly interested in.
And now without further adieu, here is the first official trailer for Iron Man 3.
Iron Man 3 will be in theaters on May 3, 2013.
I attended this event as a guest of Disney, with all expenses paid. As always, any personal opinions reflected in this post are my own and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.