Kevin Feige, the producer behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, returns once again to take you behind the action of the Marvel's “Iron Man 3”!
In Part One of our interview with Feige, he detailed the life behind the camera of “Iron Man 3,” discussing his creative team as well as his unique process for collaborating with them during production. Today’s segment rotates the camera, spotlighting the actors and actresses who will bring the world of the Armored Avenger to life once again.
Read on to hear about what's in store for our hero's supporting cast and villains, and mark your calendars for the premiere "Iron Man 3" in theaters and IMAX 3D!
|Iron Man and Pepper Potts ( Gwyneth Paltrow) in "Iron Man 3"|
Marvel.com:Where do we find Pepper Potts at the beginning of this film?
Kevin Feige: Pepper Potts, at the beginning of “Iron Man 3,” is running Stark Industries; she’s the CEO of Stark Industries as she was in “Iron Man 2” and she’s sort of accepting this notion that Stark Industries is something that Tony’s no longer a part of. He’s really focusing on the suits; he’s focusing on being a super hero and she is this incredibly powerful woman that has taken this position of power within the company. She’s moved in with Tony, [and] they are certainly a couple now and there are no secrets about that, as you saw in their relationship in “Marvel's The Avengers.”
Clearly it had progressed past the kiss at the end of “Iron Man 2.” So they are living together and they are in a committed relationship, which again is somewhat unique to the super hero genre. That is one of the reasons we really wanted to do it. But when you live with Tony Stark there are always issues and there are always concerns and one of the concerns at the beginning of this film is the fact that he is not sleeping. He’s spending all of his time tinkering and building suits. And Tony’s been doing nothing but building suits and suits and suits and suits. It’s an obsession and, as Pepper calls it, his distraction. It’s clearly affecting their relationship.
|"Iron Man 3" soars into theaters and IMAX 3D May 3|
Marvel.com: Jon Favreau is reprising his role of Happy Hogan. What was it like having him back but not in the director’s chair this time around?
Kevin Feige: Having Jon Favreau on the movie, not just playing Happy Hogan in as big a role that Happy Hogan’s ever had in the Iron Man movies, but also as executive producer behind the scenes, is a tremendous asset in regards to the script. Jon was very, very gracious in the way that he helped ["Iron Man 3" director] Shane [Black]. Shane would ask him a question about either working with Robert [Downey, Jr.] or setting up the character, or getting the best out of any of the cast that had been in the prior movies and even technical things.
Jon is an A-list director now, who’s done a tremendous amount of visual effects work and prides himself on being extremely knowledgeable about that. Jon’s graciously shared that knowledge with Shane.
It was really a very special thing to have Jon on set and his part in this movie is in a way what activates Tony into his adventure in this movie. The heart at the core of this movie is not only Pepper, it is not only the little boy Harley, but it is Happy Hogan. Jon steals, I think, almost every scene he’s in “Iron Man 3.” It’s hilarious and he really gave his all.
|Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Rhodey (Don Cheadle) team up in "Iron Man 3"|
Marvel.com: Talk about Don Cheadle coming back as Rhodey and where we find him at the beginning of this film.
Kevin Feige: When last we saw Jim Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle, he was flying away from Tony at the end of “Iron Man 2” wearing the Mark 2 suit that he had taken from Tony’s house. What we learn in the beginning of “Iron Man 3” is that they’ve made an arrangement. Tony has let Rhodey have this suit; he’s using it in conjunction with the US Government. So, at the beginning of “Iron Man 3,” we see that the President has asked Rhodey as War Machine to get a new paint job and take on the new moniker of the Iron Patriot in order to do American business and be the American hero as opposed to the Avengers or Iron Man himself, who is sort of a separate entity. Rhodey, being a military man, does step into that, proudly. But he’s still best friends with Tony, so he’s always giving information to Tony behind-the-scenes and I think has been doing that since he got the suit in “Iron Man 2.”
That relationship between Rhodes and Tony is core to the franchise and the comic books. In the Iron Man movies up to now, Jim Rhodes has always been sort of Tony’s conscience. He has been the person who has warned Tony, “Are you sure you should be doing this? Are you going that way? Why are you doing this?” In this movie, we’re embracing more of their friendship and you see why they’re best friends in this movie.
|Ben Kingsley stars as the Mandarin in "Iron Man 3"|
In a way it becomes a buddy action film, in the third act, where they team up. Neither of them have a suit at a certain point in the movie and they really team up in a great, sort of old-fashioned action movie way and Don and Robert have such an amazing rapport. Don can keep up with all of Robert’s adlibs in a way that almost always ends up in the movie in the perfect fashion. So, seeing Don back is a huge pleasure and he brings a level of authority to that part; you just believe everything he says and in keeping up with Tony, it gives us that great Shane Black banter.
Marvel.com: Was the plan always to bring the Mandarin character into the Iron Man storyline?
Kevin Feige: The Mandarin is unquestionably Tony Stark’s greatest foe. The reason for that, frankly, is not because he’s appeared in a lot of great stories, but he’s just appeared in a lot of stories, going back to the early ’60s. So, if you asked the question, “Who is Iron Man’s greatest foe?” Odds are, people would say the Mandarin and because of that, he’s always been at the top of every list for each movie. In fact he was a part of every draft of “Iron Man” until about three months before we started filming.
Each time we came to another film, we talked about the Mandarin but just didn’t have a great idea of how to do it. His appearances in the comics are very dated in a lot of them. They are not appropriate anymore and he’s been updated in many ways, but not in a way that we ever found would work for the movie.
|Robert Downey, Jr. stars as Tony Stark/Iron Man in "Iron Man 3"|
Then Shane Black had an idea of making him somebody whose background is unknown; we don’t know where he’s from at first, but he seems to be some kind of military officer that has gone off the reservation. He is starting to pull all of this iconography and symbolism from other cultures to his own ends to use them as symbols to pervert the symbol of the United States. He utilizes the moniker of the Mandarin and robes with dragons on them and uses South American sort of guerilla tactics to create this aura of fear of his terror organization. The Mandarin is sort of a very frightening, modern-day terrorist who has taken terror motifs from all over the world to use to his own ends. It was a very cool and relevant and scary idea. And the best thing about the Mandarin, in the comics, has been how relentless he was against Tony.
When you see this film, something has happened in act one and the Mandarin is deemed responsible. On national television, Tony says, “I’m gonna come after you, Mandarin. I’m gonna find you.” And within a day, the Mandarin has decimated Tony’s house. Obadiah Stane didn’t do that, Whiplash didn’t do that, Loki didn’t do that. The Mandarin does it in the first act of “Iron Man 3.” That is very, very serious and very big.
When we were casting the part, we wanted somebody whose ethnicity was not specific and we wanted somebody who was a spectacular actor. Sir Ben Kingsley was interested and it all fell into place.
|The Iron Patriot armor in "Iron Man 3"|
There are many different incarnations of the Mandarin; he’s sort of pulled from all the comic books to create this very unique and very iconic villain. When you first hear his voice in the trailer, it is unexpected. That came about because we needed Sir Ben to record some dialogue for a Comic-Con piece that we’d done. He said that he had been working on the Mandarin’s voice, so we let him try it. We all didn’t know what to think at first until we started laying it into the picture and said, “My God, it’s brilliant.” It’s fascinating and you can’t put your finger on what it is or where it’s coming from, which is exactly what the Mandarin is in this movie. So having Sir Ben Kingsley on board is amazing and I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people with his performance.
Marvel.com: Talk about the character Killian and bringing in Guy Pearce.
Kevin Feige: We’ve been fans of Guy Pearce for years and have wanted to cast him in almost every movie we’ve done and this was the one where the timing worked out perfectly. Aldrich Killian, the character he plays, is somebody who is from the comics; it was a kernel of a character in the comics that we have expanded in a very big way in this movie. We always want, with the Tony Stark films, to have a character that represents a certain angle of his persona and Killian is somebody who wants to be a mover and a shaker; he wants to be a leader in industry.
|Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) in "Iron Man 3"|
Killian heads a brain-trust organization called AIM that is developing Extremis, which is something that taps into human DNA and is able to reprogram it and regenerate limbs and enhance strength and cure wounds. But it also could change the whole world, which is what Killian intends to do with it.
When you have Guy Pearce in scenes with Gwyneth Paltrow, in scenes with Robert Downey, Jr., the level of acting is times three. He’s such an amazing actor and such a dedicated actor across the board. Killian is a character that will surprise people in seeing what Guy has brought to this part.
Marvel.com: Extremis is based in bio-tech, correct?
Kevin Feige: Yes. When we were developing “Iron Man,” a comic book came out called Extremis. It was written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Adi Granov and from the cover of the first issue, we realized it was the next level of Iron Man and it worked perfectly and the timing was perfect. We felt it was tonally something we could use to build the movie off of. We actually ended up hiring Adi Granov to come on board and help in the initial designs of the Iron Man armor for the film.
|Rebecca Hall stars as Maya Hansen in "Iron Man 3"|
The tone of the relationship between Yinsen and Tony Stark, the idea of a bigger, bulkier version of the Mark 1, all of that came from that storyline. In that storyline there is Extremis, which is a biological enhancement and sort of a biological weapon that people ingest and are able to do basically super human and spectacular things.
With each film, we thought, “Should we do Extremis?” My gut was, it’s a part three. So, as we started developing “Iron Man 3,” we ended up pulling from that greatly.
Marvel.com: Talk about casting Rebecca Hall to play Maya Hansen.
Kevin Feige: We saw Rebecca Hall in a Woody Allen movie; then we saw her in “The Town.” She’s an amazing actress. She’s one of the best actresses working today. It is a tough thing casting these movies because we have to find great actors that can fit into the ensemble of great actors that we already have in our cast. Rebecca, thankfully, was very interested in joining us and has done an amazing job. She and Tony Stark have a past and there’s a scene early in the film that has some romantic overtones to it and it’s a lot of fun to then see the triangle between Pepper and Tony and Maya and see how it takes an unexpected turn at Tony’s expense.
Rebecca is just spectacular at those scenes and at showing how torn her character is between knowing she’s invented something that can do such amazing things, but seeing how wrong it’s gone and how dangerous it’s become.
|Iron Man's seen better days in "Iron Man 3"|
Marvel.com: Talk about casting James Badge Dale as Savin.
Kevin Feige: James Badge Dale plays a character known as Savin. He works for Guy Pearce’s character, Aldrich Killian. You don’t know a lot about Savin at first but as the movie unfolds you learn more and more that he is a very frightening individual and he’s somebody that has used Maya Hansen’s technology Extremis for his own ends. He’s somebody who can walk around and seemingly be just sort of an average Joe, but who presents himself with such a cocky confidence that you’re not sure where that’s coming from or why he has it and then you see what he can do.
James is an amazing actor, whom we looked at for a number of different films. We saw him for the first time in the miniseries “The Pacific,” where he does a tremendous job. He did a great performance in “The Grey” last year. For this role that is not the lead character or the lead hero or the lead villain, we wanted an actor who can rise above and who can hold his own against this cast and from day one, James came in and proved that he could do that perfectly.
He can be very funny when he wants to be and he can be very scary when he wants to be and he does both in this movie very well.
Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?
Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale with Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley, “Iron Man 3” is directed by Shane Black from a screenplay by Drew Pearce and Shane Black and is based on Marvel’s iconic super hero Iron Man, who first appeared in the pages of TALES OF SUSPENSE #39 in 1963 and had his solo comic book debut with THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1 in May of 1968.
“Iron Man 3” is presented by Marvel Studios in association with Paramount Pictures and DMG Entertainment. Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige is producing and Jon Favreau, Louis D'Esposito, Stephen Broussard, Victoria Alonso, Alan Fine, Charles Newirth, Stan Lee and Dan Mintz are executive producers. The film releases May 3, 2013, and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
In addition to "Iron Man 3," Marvel Studios will release a slate of films based on the Marvel characters including "Thor: The Dark World" on November 8, 2013; "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" on April 4, 2014; "Guardians of the Galaxy" on August 1, 2014; the untitled "Marvel's The Avengers" sequel on May 1, 2015; and "Ant-Man" on November 6, 2015.