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Amid all the buzz about The Avengers‘ $1 billion box-office bonanza, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that, had it not been for one man, the superhero sonic boom might never have happened in the first place. And it’s even easier considering that Jon Favreau, whose wildly successful Iron Man films set the stage for Marvel’s Hulk-sized hero team-up, doesn’t engage in much self-promotion even when offered the opportunity.
He will, however, speak at length about the projects he has on the horizon.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Favreau ahead of Monday’s NBC upfront presentation, where he presented the pilot he directed for a new hourlong genre drama called Revolution, about a postapocalyptic, powerless society. He also touched on Iron Man 3, which he will produce (Shane Black is directing), and provided some new details about star Robert Downey Jr.’s latest go-round in the metal bodysuit.
The Hollywood Reporter: I’ve got to congratulate you on the success of The Avengers.
Jon Favreau: Yeah, how do you like that? Turned out really well. Look, it was something we always planned for, and hoped for, but anything could have gone wrong, and it took a lot of things to go right. First and foremost, Joss, to be able to pull together — four different characters based on four different sets of films that shared a lot tonally and they shared some cast-wise, but he had to pull all those things together and make it work, it’s a very high degree of difficulty for him. But we had done a lot of setup in Iron Man 2 and even in Iron Man 1, we were hoping that it would come to this. I don’t think it became a reality until the last few years, but we were definitely planning for it. But it took a lot of people to pass the baton well, and each director who had been involved with the franchises did their part, but it took Joss to really seal the deal, and clearly it worked out, because the moment seems to continue going.
THR: So you’re producing Iron Man 3. That’s filming soon. What’s the status?
Favreau: Yeah, down in Wilmington, it’s starting to shoot in a couple weeks. I was just talking to Shane Black and Downey and look, I think it’s a really smart way to go. After Avengers, you want to start with something really bold and inspired, and if you’ve ever seen Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, you’ve seen that when Downey and Shane get together, interesting and unexpected things happen. I’m happy to see that it’s taking a bit of a tonal shift from The Avengers and it’s going to be something completely different and exciting, and I’m happy to be a part of it.
THR: What kind of tonal shift? Darker?
Favreau: No, just a little bit more offbeat, I’d say. Shane and Robert definitely have an original point of view and an original take on the character, and I think it delves deeper into what makes Tony Stark tick and plays on the unexpected original unpredictable quality of the character that I think fans gravitate to.
THR: Are you going to be involved on a daily basis?
Favreau: I’ll be very involved on that one. I’ve already been talking to them and I feel a tremendous connection to that franchise and that character, and I’m very proud to see it moving forward in a way that re-enforces that story.
THR: When doing something like Revolution, how is directing a pilot versus a movie?
Favreau: Pilots tend to have a longer time to film than an episode, but it’s certainly a lot less than a movie. But we had a really tight script, and I was working with producers like Eric Kripke and J.J. Abrams, who have been involved in TV a lot. J.J. and I have been looking to work together in TV for a long time, so you just have to prepare a little more. The casting process is crazy, especially when you have a lot of unknowns, a lot of discoveries, and the Bad Robot shows, J.J.’s shows, are all really cast-driven, so a lot of care went into finding the right people for the parts. So it really all worked out well; I’m very pleased with how well it all turned out.
THR: How much did J.J. consult on a day-to-day basis?
Favreau: Well, he was definitely very involved in developing the script with Eric, and then while we were filming, he was filming Star Trek, so we would shoot dailies to him, we would communicate using the same technology that he show eliminates. So we were very dependent upon technology. But he’s pretty tech-forward, and a lot of stuff is done online, so I would talk to my Internet through the Internet, I would talk to J.J. through e-mails. He’s got a great company, I’ve been wanting to work there for a while, and he’s got a great time, so I felt very well looked after.
THR: What does this world look like? It’s postapocalyptic, but it’s modern.
Favreau: Yeah, we wanted to make it actually hopeful, even though that doesn’t sound like it really fits with the dystopian world that postapocalyptic stories are usually set against. But the feeling was that there was a whole younger generation that grew up without power, and that when nature begins to reclaim what we’ve built — whether it’s cities, you see the city of Chicago 15 years after it’s been all but abandoned — you see that the plants start to grow back over things and there’s a lushness and a greenness, and the green shoots of new life that have come over society. So it’s kind of an interesting, different spin on it that was something we really did and planned for and discussed.
THR: How much involvement will you have with the show going forward?
Favreau: I’m going to be involved. I’m going to be a producer on the show, and I’m as soon as I’m done out here, I’m going to go back and hit the writers room and Eric is going to be breaking stories for the new season with J.J. and myself, and then hopefully either direct or be involved some way for future episodes.
THR: Were there any of J.J.’s shows, like Lost, that you used as an inspiration?
Favreau: It definitely shares some DNA with Lost and the other Bad Robot shows, but I think when Eric came up with the idea for this, I think he was looking at things like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings — how to set a fantasy with swords and lo-tech societies butting [heads] and set it on an American backdrop. So even though America’s overgrown, it has a personality that you don’t see in those European-based shows.
Email: Jordan.Zakarin@THR.com; Twitter: @JordanZakarin
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