Kevin Feige Iron Man Jon Favreau

Back in 2008, Iron Man, for some, was a surprising hit. Marvel’s first film not only exceeded box office predictions, but it also surpassed fans and general audiences’ expectations. If the comic book movie didn’t do as well as it did, then Marvel’s plans, most likely, would’ve been squashed.

Besides helping to set up the Marvel Cinematic Universe, director Jon Favreau accomplished more than just that with his film. Below, Marvel president Kevin Feige reflects on Iron Man and how it influenced the rest of the MCU.

It’s fitting we’re discussing Marvel and Jon Favreau right now, because both have come a long way since the first Iron Man. The Jungle Book and Captain America: Civil War show how the filmmaker and Marvel, respectively, have grown since 2008. Their work has evolved over the years, but the key components that made the first Iron Man successful are evident in Favreau and Marvel’s newest films.

Speaking with Feige, we mentioned to him that maybe Favreau doesn’t enough credit for what Iron Man did for Marvel. Feige agreed:

Every lesson. I learned every lesson [on that movie]. I mean, that was our first movie. I have been at Marvel at 16 years now. In the first six or seven years, we were working on our films that other studios had the rights for, that other studios paid for, and that other studios had all the control over. There were a lot of great learning experiences there. There were some awesome movies in that run, and there were some movies I felt could’ve been better in that run. But we learned all sorts of lessons along the way. When we finally got to do it ourselves, it was time to put up or shut up. It was saying, “Everything we believe could be done with our characters, let’s put into this movie.” If it hadn’t worked, we would’ve thought, “Oh, I guess our ideas maybe aren’t the right ones.” [Laughs.] Jon helped lead the charge on that. There are a lot of the things we continue to do at the studio that Jon helped initiate. Really, it comes down to collaboration. Jon was a spectacular collaborator. Instead of just looking at designs by himself, he’d say, “Come on, everybody, let’s go in a room, put up the designs, and all talk about them.” He did his early cuts on the movie and we started submitted notes, and he said, “Ah, I don’t want to get all this paper. Just come in here and let’s talk about it.” That’s how we make movies now.

Another example of Favreau helping to make Marvel a success? Casting Robert Downey Jr.. At the time, Downey playing Iron Man was an unexpected choice. Favreau and Marvel bet big on the actor, a decision that paid off as soon as Iron Man‘s opening weekend. In addition to that inspired piece of casting, Favreau also established a tone that most of the other Marvel movies have followed. The humor was unquestionably one of the many reasons why Iron Man connected with audiences, and since then, it seems like Kevin Feige and all involved have kept that tone in mind.

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