The last studio panel of Saturday’s Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con began with a year-by-year video retrospective of Marvel’s Hall H presence, including past panel footage. “You’ve been here,” text on the screen read, “in this very room, helping us to assemble The Avengers.” The video went on to thank the Comic-Con fans for making The Avengers the number one superhero movie of all time.
Feige then started to describe the developments on Iron Man 3 when he was suddenly interrupted by the sexy, dulcet voice of Luther Vandross singing “Never Too Much” over the PA system. The lights dimmed and a spotlight hit the back of Hall H as Robert Downey, Jr. boogied down the aisle from the back to the stage upfront, sporting his Iron Man glove and occasionally flashing it toward the cameras. The entire hall ate up Downey’s showy display, bursting out in outrageous cheers.
Once onstage Downey said, “I have three questions: How much do I love you?” The crowd cheered in response.
“How much do you love me?” he asked. The crowd cheered louder.
“Question number three: Why aren’t we watching any footage yet?!” at which point the house lights dimmed and they played an amazing reel of footage from the upcoming film (see description here below).
After the footage, Downey introduced the new director to the franchise, Shane Black, along with actor Don Cheadle (War Machine) and former Iron Man director (and currently just an actor in IM3) Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan).
Boucher noted from the footage that it’s cool to see a Christmas scene in a Shane Black movie (likely referring to Lethal Weapon or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, both taking place during Christmas), Black said they’re halfway done shooting, and Favreau was giving him every bit of advice and tips he can.
Cheadle said it’s warm shooting in Wilmington, North Carolina, especially in a suit of armor. Favreau said he rushed to get here from the Revolution panel, and that gave Cheadle the opportunity to plug his Showtime show, House of Lies. Downey then plugged Captain Planet (referring to Cheadle’s Funny or Die skit).
Black said that Sir Ben Kingley, who was confirmed as the villain The Mandarin, pulled him aside to show him how he’d discovered the “wonderful” accent he’d developed for The Mandarin. Black said Kingsley “is The Mandarin.”
Feige noted that IM3 is very much a return to a Tony Stark-centric world, and thought it was great to develop these individual superheroes who could come together for The Avengers, then go back to their own worlds.
Boucher credited Tony Stark as being a large part of The Avengers success, to which Downey noted he believes every movie he makes will be one of the top three biggest films of all time, and with The Avengers, it finally happened. He also pointed out that shwarma sales increased 700% after The Avengers post-credits scene.
Cheadle was happy again to be in the War Machine suit and noted that he’s finishing up his footage in the next few weeks.
The Q&A session launched with Downey praising Feige for bringing the Avengers world together as a cohesive whole.
A fan asked if Pepper Potts would appear in the rescue suit from the comics, Downey said they almost did it a few times, and everyone on the panel wants to see Gwyneth Paltrow kick a little ass.
Downey said that Marvel was unsure about casting him as Iron Man until seeing his performance in Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and that throughout the filming, Favreau and Downey would consult Black. Downey also mentioned that his wife hates when he’s playing Stark, cause he can’t afford all the expensive toys he’s acting like he can.
Feige mentioned that they’re halfway through shooting IM3, and if they don’t fuck the rest up, it’ll be great. Then he listed off some of the other cast members, including Rebecca Hall as Dr. Maya Hansen, Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian, James Badge Dale as Eric Savin, and French actress Stephanie Szostak.
Downey said now that Favreau isn’t directing the franchise anymore, his performance is totally off the chain, “Like Swingers at forty”. Favreau said that it was weird to walk onto an Iron Man set and not be the director, and in his new role as Executive Producer, he feels “like a proud grandfather who doesn’t have to change the diapers, but still gets to play with the baby.”
Downey was asked how long it takes to get into the Iron Man suit. He said the costumers are getting better and better these days, and asked Cheadle how long it takes him to get into War Machine. Cheadle said a half-hour, and Downey quickly replied that for him it’s about three minutes. Cheadle shot back,”Racism,” which drew hearty laughs from the hall. Downey said it’s because Cheadle’s got bigger guns.
A fan asked if we could expect to see Iron Man in future Marvel films, to which Downey said his contract ends after Iron Man 3 and after that Marvel will have to figure out what Brinks truck they want in order to continue.
An Iron Man-dressed fan asked if he could borrow Downey’s suit, to which Downey said “of course, it’s like Rhodey, you don’t really ask and you never bring it back.” Favreau asked the fan how long it takes him to get into his suit, to which the fan answered 5 minutes. Cheadle then stormed off in mock indignation.
Black said the secret to directing a third film in a series, and still managing to keep it fresh is “to stay on top, you always have to touch bottom”, in other words, to go back to the series’ roots. He also confided that Downey really is Tony Stark, to which Downey asked “So I’m an asshole?”, and Black answered, “A rich asshole.”
Downey said they’re not exploring the “demon in a bottle” alcoholism storyline for Iron Man 3, and Stark seems to have “the plug in the jug” for this film.
Favreau said looking back from the perspective of no longer having to direct, he’s admired how the Marvel franchises have grown, and what’s nice about what Feige and the other Marvel directors have done is to bring their separate voices to the material and then let Joss Whedon bring all the characters together to play in the same sandbox. Black credited co-writer Drew Pearce for how well Iron Man 3 came together on-screen.
A young fan said this was her 15th birthday and the best present ever has been to see this panel, to which Downey led the panel and the whole hall in singing “Happy Birthday” to her. She then asked if Downey could pick any other color for the Iron Man suit without offending Stan Lee, what would it be. Downey responded “Does mauve offend anyone?”
Feige was asked if we’d see Bruce Banner in the franchise again, to which he jokingly teased perhaps someday.
Iron Man 3 opens May 3rd, 2013.
Footage description by Henchman21.
The footage starts off with Tony Stark testing out his new armor (it was previously reported that this would be the Extremis armor). This version of the armor allows Tony to summon individual pieces from across the room, although the armor doesn’t respond quite as well as Tony would like. This part ends with Tony doing a sweet flip in the air as the faceplate attaches itself.
Then the footage switches to more story-based stuff, and we hear the voice of Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin as he makes some ominous pronouncements as he attacks Tony’s home with helicopters causing mass destruction. Then there were some random shots, including one of Guy Pierce’s character kissing Pepper Potts. Next there was a humorous back and forth between Tony Stark and Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan character, about how embarrassing it was for Happy to have to tell people he was Iron Man’s bodyguard; he also talks about events that took place in New York during The Avengers movie. The footage ended with actual shots of The Mandarin in full costume, complete with rings. And there was one bit that I need to see again, but I think I saw Captain America’s WWII helmet as part of the Mandarin’s throne.