Iron Man was a great movie. With an unusual amount of humor and sarcastic wit, the movie took on the usually tough assignment of telling the superhero origin myth and as a result became a summer favorite with audiences. It also was a financial powerhouse, earning nearly $320 million in U.S. domestic receipts by the end of September.
With such success, a sequel is inevitable. Hollywood being Hollywood, someone will always suggest a way to “improve” a monster hit. Take the much-publicized decision to replace Terrence Howard with Don Cheadle in the sequel. While I do not think that Mr. Howard was the strongest link in the first movie, that opinion has much more to do with the fact that the character of James “Rhodey” Rhodes was a minor, supporting character in this version of the origin myth, and not any reflection on Mr. Howard’s acting chops. Yet, I’m sure that someone in Hollywood felt that Mr. Cheadle will add something more to Rhodey either being Iron Man or War Machine in the next film. People say “don’t mess with a winning formula,” but they’ve never heard that rule in Hollywood (or never listened, if they did.)
So, it is in the spirit of messing with a winning formula that I offer some further boneheaded casting changes and the rationale behind them that could be proposed by some mid-level Hollywood creative type hoping to make a mark on Tinsel Town …
5. Include a guest cameo by David Hasselhoff as Nick Fury.
Anybody remember the David Hasselhoff/Lisa Rinna TV-movie version of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Anybody? Anybody? Well, you missed a real gem, let me tell you. Mr. Hasselhoff (with eye patch) tried to chew the scenery as hard as one of Nick Fury’s cigars as he fought both candy ass S.H.I.E.L.D. bureaucrats and Hydra with equal aplomb. I think he hoped to overact everyone to death, all while trying to not stare at Lisa Rinna’s cleavage too hard. Since S.H.I.E.L.D. got a mention in the first film, and there’s an “Unnamed Nick Fury Project” in development hell in Hollywood, why not let The Hoff have a cameo? Oh hell, make him crucial to Iron Man’s survival by showing up at a key moment with a Big Freakin’ Gun that blasts one of Iron Man’s enemies into atoms.
4. Replace Gwyneth Paltrow with Sharon Stone as Pepper Pots.
Ms. Paltrow is a great actress and a beautiful woman, but the first Iron Man film registered a little low on the sexual tension meter. How do we fix that? Go Basic Instinct. Pepper Potts could sustain a head injury and go a little crazy… or at least the Hollywood box office definition of crazy, which usually involves bisexuality and gristly, erotic murders with pointy objects. There’s no one better at that than Ms. Stone. She’s still got it, right? Look at Basic Instinct 2. She’s the queen of semi-porny sequels.
3. Replace Terrance Howard (now Don Cheadle) with Eddie Murphy as James “Rhodey” Rhodes.
This one is a no-brainer. Given Mr. Murphy’s recent dual performance in Meet Dave as a human-sized robot and its tiny controller inside its head, he is already prepped for the role. Just imagine War Machine doing that Axel Foley laugh. That’s got to be worth a million at the box office right there.
2. Replace Jeff Bridges with William Shatner as Obadiah Stane.
Don’t get me wrong, I respect the acting skills of William Shatner. When properly restrained, the man can be an interesting dramatic actor (the “let them die” sequence of Star Trek VI being the first item entered into evidence for the Defense.) Let’s get real though: an unrestrained Bill Shatner is a ham (I offer most of T.J. Hooker as proof, your Honor.) The shrewd thing about Mr. Shatner is that he’s turned his hammy tendencies into a strength on Boston Legal saying lines like “I’m to go out of this office and sleep with your wife, your Honor” with such outlandishness that he actually carries scenes and wins both an Emmy and Emmy nominations. Empress Eve will probably hate me for saying this, but, I put this one up there solely because I couldn’t resist the image of a bald, bearded William Shatner yelling “SSSTTARRRKKK!” the way Captain Kirk yelled “KKHHHAAAANNNN!” in Star Trek II.
1. Replace Robert Downey Jr. with Tom Cruise as Tony Stark.
One of the real assets of the first movie was Robert Downey Jr.’s highly sarcastic and ironic performance as the shallow playboy-turned-superhero Tony Stark. But who is going to believe that kind of performance through two movies? No one. The next movie needs a star that can really project absolute confidence in his ability to be a superhero. Tom Cruise is your man. Remember that Scientology video? He spoke about seeing an auto accident and knowing(!!!) that as a Scientologist, he was the only one that could really help. That’s the kind of authenticity that Iron Man really needs.