Every panel that comes to Hall H wants to recreate the success of Iron Man, a franchise was began its journey to a worldwide phenomenon in a room that holds 6,500 screaming fans. I didn’t attend the first Iron Man panel, but I was here for Iron Man 2, and it blew the audience away. I can still remember the audience losing its mind when they saw the shot of Iron Man and War Machine fighting back-to-back. And then you have Robert Downey Jr. who knows how to work a crowd of screaming fanboys and fangirls like few others. It’s a spectacular show, and while Iron Man 2 was ultimately a letdown, hope has been renewed with Shane Black (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) as the new co-writer and director. Everyone knows Iron Man has been king of Hall H, but can it keep its crown??
We’re shown an intro video that recaps Marvel in Hall H through the years going back to 2006 and seeing how the idea of The Avengers was kicked around on a panel, and then we saw clips from all of the Marvel movies leading to The Avengers, and the fans went nuts. A title card near the end of the presentation thanked the fans. And then we got to:
“PHASE TWO BEGINS NOW”
After looking at Marvel’s other planned films (click here for Adam’s write-up), we get to Iron Man 3, and how does it begin? With Robert Downey Jr. being the consummated showman. He enters from the back of Hall H, Iron Man glove on his hand, dancing to a Luther Vandross song, going all the way through the auditorium, and then finally getting to the stage. And the Crowd. Goes. Wild.
Once he gets to the stage, and gets the microphone, he says to the audience, “I have three questions: How much do I love you?” Cheers.
“Question number two: How much do you love me?” More cheers.
“Last question: Why aren’t we watching any footage yet?” Most cheers.
And then we get to the footage that won Comic-Con (and had me scribbling furiously to write down everything I saw):
- We open with Iron Man putting on his new suit that he can summon through force of will (I believe this is the Extremis armor, but I don’t want to officially call it that). He has some pieces that don’t want to behave, and they start zipping around the room, smashing into things (Tony included), and he gets slammed with some pieces in his nuts and in his back, with the mask the last piece ready to strike. “I’m not scared of you,” Stark says defiantly to the hovering mask. The mask charges, Tony dose a sweet flip, the mask clicks on, Iron Man sticks the landing, and strikes a bad ass pose. Then the Marvel logo comes up.
- The next scene has Tony bantering with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). Hogan has quit since he was tired of people laughing at him when he told them he was Iron Man’s bodyguard. It’s a cute way of breaking the fourth wall regarding Faverau’s exit from the director’s chair.
- After this nice comedic banter, we get to the serious stuff. Over shots of new characters played by Guy Pearce and James Badge Dale as well as returning cast members Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle, we hear Ben Kingsley deliver some menacing voice over. “Some people consider me a terrorist,” the voice says. “I consider myself more of a teacher. Lesson 1: There’s no such things as heroes.”
- Then we see Tony’s Malibu home get absolutely destroyed by missiles being fired from helicopters. All of his suits are destroyed except for the one he’s wearing (I’m not 100% sure if this was his newest armor, but I think it was). Iron Man manages to escape the missiles, but he plummets into the ocean below ,and plunges deep underwater where he’s desperately trying to dodge the falling debris of his home.
- Then the title comes up. Of course, we’re not done yet…
- We see a hand putting on the last of ten rings, one on each finger. We then see a figure remove his hood and pull a gun at no one in particular. The screen goes to black, we fade in, and we see The Mandarin (Kingsley) sitting on a throne. His voice over closes out the trailer: “If you beg for mercy, you will be silenced.”
The lights come up and everyone in the audience has lost their mind over what they just saw.
Then Black, Cheadle, and Favreau join Downey on stage. The questions from the moderator begins:
- Black says they’re halfway done, and Favreau is giving him all the help and tips he can.
- Favreau said he was double-booked at Comic-Con so he had to race over from the Revolution panel (he directed the series premiere) in a cart “knocking nerds over left and right.” Favreau plugs Revolution, and then Cheadle plugs back by mentioning his Showtime series House of Lies, and then Downey reminds Cheadle he should also mention Captain Planet (referring to this FunnyOrDie sketch).
- Shane Black talks about how Kingsley will be terrific, and mentions how the Oscar-winning actor played with trying to find the right voice for the character. “This guy is the Mandarin.”
- Feige said this is a return to a Stark-centric story. “This is very much in the Tony Stark world.”
- Downey jokes that they’re shooting another post-credits ending for The Avengers. “What processed food scene are we going to see next?” asks Black. “Shwarma sales increased 700%!” replies Downey.
- Before the audience member asks her question, Downey says that when it all comes down to it, Kevin Feige was the guy that made The Avengers happen.
- The fan asks what they want to see in future movies, because she wants to see Pepper Potts in the “rescue suit”. Downey seems confused by the question (“you mean like she picks Tony up at bar as a co-dependency thing?”). Favreau says he knows what the fan is talking about and he’ll get Downey the comic.
- When asked about how he brings Iron Man to life, Downey responds “Well, first you get cast.” Then he explains how Favreau saw Black’s superb 2005 film Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and it was kind of the screen test before the screen test. They even consulted Black at times during the making of Iron Man. Black says it’s great to have Favreau back as an actor and getting to talk to him all day long. “We’re halfway through,” says Black. “If we don’t fuck up the rest, it’s going to be great!”
- Black mentions new cast members, and announces the addition of Stephanie Szostak (Dinner for Schmucks). He then throws in a subtle jab at Spider-Man by saying how Iron Man 3 doesn’t have a bunch of villains floating around.
- Downey says Hogan is off the chain in this film; “It’s like Swingers at forty”. Favreau said he never really got to have fun with the role before because he had to stay in check as a director, but now he really gets to play off Downey. He feels like a proud grandfather of the franchise because as the film’s executive producer he “gets to play with the baby but doesn’t have to change its diaper.”
- A fan asks if we’ll see Downey in Iron Man 4 or future Marvel movies. Downey says he and Cheadle’s contracts runs out after Iron Man 3, and then he jokes about getting to see what Brinks truck they’ll want. It was a slick dodge of the question, but Marvel will definitely need to offer him loads of cash if they want him back after Iron Man 3 (we’ve previously reported that future Iron Man movies may take a James Bond approach by casting new actors but not rebooting the series).
- How it’s been to play the transformation of Tony Stark over the movies: “Iron Man 3 will be a continuance of the meditation of the question, ‘What is the need for a third picture?’” says Black. There’s been a wish list of scenes Downey has had for a while, but then Downey flips the question over to Black for how the character will develop in the third film. Black says the challenge is to conclude a trilogy by looking back at the roots of the story “and dig out the myth of it.”
- There’s no “Demon in a Bottle” in Iron Man 3. Favreau says that even though it turns out you like the idea of Tony struggling with alcoholism, there’s really not enough story there for a movie. “He’s got the plug in the jug this time,” says Downey.
- Black gives a quick shout out to co-writer Drew Pearce. “Don’t show the guy that’s doing all the work!” says Downey.
- A fan who came 7,000 miles from Guam asks if there was any chance of a premiere in Guam. “Is that near Encino?” jokes Favreau. “You heard it here first: world premiere of Iron Man 3 in Guam!” says Downey. “You’re not at war, right?” Black mockingly asks.
- And then Downey gets the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to a fan who says she turned 15 today. This is why he’s the king. Her question is what color he would make his armor if it was up to him. “Does mauve offend anyone?” says Downey.
- “Will we see Bruce Banner in Iron Man 3 or any part of phase two?” “We’ll see him again some day,” says Feige.
Saturday in Hall H was a long day with a lot of great panels, but Marvel ruled over them all. They’re just damn good at showmanship. They knew they didn’t have anything major for their upcoming movies, so they kicked it off with quick announcements of their upcoming projects and showing Edgar Wright‘s Ant-Man test footage. Then they threw it over to Iron Man 3 and let the great Comic-Con exclusive trailer kick everyone’s ass before letting Robert Downey Jr. and co. carry us home (and then we saw the trailer for a second time).
I don’t know if Iron Man 3 will be a good film. Shane Black has earned my trust, and so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I remember that the Iron Man 2 panel in 2009 also blew everyone’s mind and we all cheered for the footage, but look how that film turned out. Hopefully, Iron Man 3 won’t suffer the same fate, and we’ll get a movie that’s as great as this year’s Comic-Con panel.
Iron Man 3 opens May 3, 2013.
Catch up on all of our continuing Comic-Con coverage here.