Jon Favreau is currently enjoying a nice moment in the sun, thanks to his THE JUNGLE BOOK being a rip-roaring success around the world. It's also been announced that he's back in the fold as a producer at Marvel Studios- a decision that makes perfect sense for both sides of that equation when you consider that his IRON MAN singlehandedly launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. Naturally, everyone wants to talk to Favreau now, about all kinds of things. From the JUNGLE BOOK sequel, to re-teaming with Vince Vaughn, to Hollywood's love/hate relationship with technology.
In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, Favreau opened up about what it was like to direct IRON MAN and what was at stake for Marvel Studios at the time.
"There was a lot of pressure because if that first film had failed, the IP was collateral," Favreau said of the $140 million production. "If we didn’t make money, they could have lost the rights to all their characters," he revealed. That would've meant no CAPTAIN AMERICA, no HULK, no THOR, and no AVENGERS- let alone all the other subsequent rewards that came after Phase 1. Thankfully, the film ended up earning $585 million and the rest is, shall we say, history.
Now, here we are eight years later and the MCU is the biggest thing in Hollywood. Is Favreau worried that audiences are going to start growing tired of the genre? In a word: No. The writer-director feels that, as long as filmmakers are allowed to put their stamp on things, that the genre will remain virile.
He points to James Gunn's work with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY as an example of why the genre has legs. "If you stamp that as a 'superhero' movie, then I think superhero movies are going to be around for a long time."
Indeed, Favreau sits in an interesting place in Marvel's history. While he helped launch it, he was also burned by it. Before the studio had figured out exactly how they wanted to manage their ever-expanding universe, they were a lot more aggressive about planting seeds for sequels. This led to Favreau's hand being forced in several unfortunate ways while directing IRON MAN 2- a film that was criticized for being bogged down by the need to set up THE AVENGERS. His experience there led to him leaving the studio. Similar meddling led to Edgar Wright walking away from ANT-MAN.
Since then, the Marvel brand has become damn near unstoppable, and the studio has seemingly let up a little. You've got Gunn and his GUARDIANS, there's Scott Derrickson making a dark and trippy DOCTOR STRANGE, and Ryan Coogler- a serious filmmaker known for CREED and FRUITVALE STATION- getting ready to put his stamp on BLACK PANTHER.
So it's probably bittersweet for Favreau, to see the studio now adopting a more filmmaker-friendly approach. I'm sure he and Wright would've appreciated that kind of autonomy a few years ago. But you also can't blame Marvel, since they had to make sure the brand had legs before they started to take risks and branch outward.
If Favreau were to be lured back to the director's chair for a Marvel flick, which character would you want to see him tackle? Personally, I'm bummed he was busy with JUNGLE BOOK while all of the new Spider-Man stuff was coming together. I think he'd bring the perfect combination of humor, action, and a distinctly New York voice to a Spidey film. Maybe for the sequel?!