Fri, Jun 13, 2008 - Page 16 News List

What hath ‘Iron Man’ wrought

Marvel Entertainment struck gold with its first self-financed film, and the company has ambitious plans for several more superhero movies

By Glenn Whipp  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , LOS ANGELES

Iron Man is the first movie Marvel financed itself. The entertainment company is looking to cash in on that initial success.

PHOTO: AP

The box-office bonanza Marvel reaped from Iron Man hasn’t changed the studio’s plans for its upcoming film slate, says company president Kevin Feige.

“But it has certainly reinforced it,” Feige adds with a satisfied laugh.

What’s in the works for Marvel’s ambitious schedule of in-house productions:

IRON MAN 2

Release date: April 30, 2010

The skinny: The day after Iron Man’s US$98 million opening weekend, Marvel not only announced plans for a sequel — it pegged a release date less than two years away.

Director Jon Favreau had an idea for a trilogy as he was making Iron Man, hoping that the third film would be the much talked-about Avengers featuring numerous characters from the Marvel Comics world. (See below.) Favreau isn’t officially signed for these films, but to say that there’s mutual interest in him continuing would be an understatement.

As far as plot lines, it’s a safe bet that Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury character, seen after the closing credits of Iron Man, will figure prominently.

It’s also safe to say that Tony Stark’s happy ending will be short-lived. Superheroes tend to lead emotionally complicated lives, and Stark has alcoholism in his past.

“If you ask me, the next one is about what do you do with the rest of your life once you’ve completely changed,” Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr says. “You’ve created this thing which has the power to take life. Essentially you have been made into a god ... and a human being who metaphorically has been made into a god is not going to turn out so well.”

“I think the drinking and all that stuff would be a good way to confront his age, to confront his doubts, to confront the fact that maybe Pepper gets a boyfriend,” Downey adds, referring to Stark’s Gal Friday love interest, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Lose Pepper to another guy? That would turn a guy to the bottle.

THOR

Release date: June 4, 2010

The skinny: Based on the Norse god of the same name, Thor is basically an arrogant bastard cast down to Earth to learn humility.

Like John Henry, he also swings a mean hammer.

Screenwriter Mark Protosevich says the film will be a story of a god “realizing his true potential,” transforming from an “Old Testament god into a New Testament god.”

“Thor will be something of an origin story in that it will introduce the character to the mainstream audience,” Feige says.

“It will be very unique. It will be about finding compassion.”

Matthew Vaughan (Stardust) will direct. Marvel will introduce Thor with a cameo in Iron Man 2.

CAPTAIN AMERICA

Release date: May 6, 2011

The skinny: The true red-white-and-blue Cap will stay in the time period he was created for and remains most comfortable in — World War II. Following the class storyline, sickly Steve Rogers will turn into a super-soldier via a serum, fighting Nazis and winning hearts for freedom.

Feige was quick to quash rumors that Matthew McConaughey would play the good Captain. So stop sobbing into your pillows, geeks.

THE AVENGERS

Release date: July, 2011

The skinny: Not much known, just that it will be Party Central for the Marvel universe with Iron Man, Captain Avenger, Nick Fury, Thor and Ant Man fighting foes no one superhero could withstand. Marvel vet Zak Penn (X-Men movies, The Incredible Hulk) will write.

“I can’t think of any other movies where the characters and stories will cross on the level like we’ll do with these,” Feige says.

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