Downey is 'Iron Man' for Marvel

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Robert Downey Jr. is suiting up to star in "Iron Man," the first feature film to be produced independently by Marvel Entertainment. Jon Favreau is directing the movie, which will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Downey will portray Tony Stark, a billionaire industrialist and genius inventor who is kidnapped and forced to build a devastating weapon. Using his intelligence and ingenuity, Stark instead builds a high-tech suit of armor and escapes captivity. Upon his return to the U.S., he uncovers a plot with global implications and must don his armor and protect the world.

The comic debuted in the 1960s, and Iron Man's origin involved Stark being a prisoner of the Viet Cong.

The movie version, written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway and Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, will be set in today's geopolitical climate.


Marvel president of production Kevin Feige said the filmmakers looked for the best actor to embody the character.

"The Marvel characters are not just about how high they jump or how fast they fly, they're about their character flaws," Feige said. "They're about their inner demons. They're about the struggles that they go through between being a man and being a hero."

Downey worked hard to get the role, getting in shape and even growing a goatee like the one Stark sports in the comic books.

"In every casting announcement we've done, people in their mind's eye have their own view of it and let us know about it. We're used to it," Feige said. "The point is, we looked at everybody, and we found the best person for the role. It's as confident a casting move as we've ever done. The proof will be in the pudding, but he is Tony Stark."

The $100 million-plus-budgeted movie will be produced by Feige and Avi Arad. Executive producers are Michael Helfant, Ari Arad, Louis D'Esposito, Peter Billingsley and Favreau.

Marvel is now casting all supporting roles. Filming is slated to begin in February in Los Angeles.

Downey, who was nominated for an Oscar for "Chaplin," next stars in "Fur" opposite Nicole Kidman and David Fincher's "Zodiac" opposite Jake Gyllenhaal. He is repped by CAA.
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