An audience with the “Iron Man 2” crowd

So, a couple of weeks back, a volcano went off in Iceland. That meant that planes in Europe couldn’t fly for several days, which meant that suddenly a London press junket was canceled and rescheduled in Los Angeles, which meant that, one recent Thursday night, I wound up seeing “Iron Man 2” at the AMC Theater in Century City instead of “A Star is Born” at Grauman’s Chinese for the TCM Classic Film Festival. (The world is getting much smaller…)

Moreover, thanks to the volcano, the next morning, instead of my Crunchy Raisin Bran and 1% milk, I was instead being buttered up by with French toast and applewood-smoked bacon buffet at the Four Seasons, a free Iron Man action figure, and a theoretical chance to ask a question of the all-star cast of “Iron Man 2” — i.e., Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle,and soon to be super-villain of the year Mickey Rourke — not to mention director/co-star Jon Favreau, writer Justin Thoreaux, and producer Kevin Feige.

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Of course, considering the 150 or so people in the room, I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t get to ask any questions, but it was a pretty entertaining event. Robert Downey may have famously given up a number of vices, but being a perpetual class clown does not seem to be one of them, and it wasn’t like he was the only interesting person in the room.

The first question, about whether Favreau or he felt any pressure in terms of living up to the success of the first “Iron Man,” set the tone. Favreau admitted he had never been involved with a sequel before, unless you count his “under five” bit part as “Assistant” in Joel Schumacher’s notorious “Batman Forever.” It certainly is a change from small independent films like Favreau’s career-making acting and writing debut, “Swingers,” which he compared to throwing a party and hoping people would come.

“…[On ‘Iron Man 2’] we knew that people were going to show up,” Favreau said. “We just wanted to make sure that everyone who showed up had a good time and that this was going to be as fun or more fun than the last party. So it’s a different kind of pressure.”

Downey then felt the need to start listing sequels others on the panel had been involved in, real and fictional. “Scarlet Johansson was in ‘Home Alone 3.’ Don Cheadle, 11, 12 and 13.”

That led to a question that was geeky in a way that anyone whose ever been a superhero comics fan will recognize, and which wound up being answered by producer Kevin Feige. It was about the “time-line” of the film. It turns out that, if viewers pay close attention, they can figure out that “Iron Man 2” actually takes place before 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk.” (Having seen both movies, I have no freakin’ clue how you’d deduce that.)

The Incredible Hulk

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Iron Man: Armored Adventures – Volume One

Following the box office success of “Iron Man” last summer, it was pretty much a given that Marvel would move forward with an animated series. When it was announced that Tony Stark would be getting the high school treatment, however, my interest in the project plummeted. Fortunately, I still had a lingering curiosity as to how it would turn out, and although a teenage version of Iron Man certainly isn’t ideal, the show actually works better than expected thanks to some solid writing and slick CG animation. Loosely based on the comic book roots, the series begins with teenage prodigy Tony Stark putting the finishing touches on his latest invention. But before he can show it off to his dad, he’s killed by longtime business partner, Obadiah Stane, in a coup to take over Stark Industries. Now, with the help of his friends Rhodey and Pepper, Tony begins to unravel the mystery behind Stane’s takeover, all while playing superhero in his new Iron Man armor. Sadly, only six episodes are included in this Volume One collection, so while we do get to see classic Iron Man baddies like Mandarin, Whiplash and Crimson Dynamo, you’ll be left wanting more when it’s all over. That may be Marvel’s intention, but with the new sequel due out in theaters this May, let’s hope they release the entire first season in time for casual fans to discover what they’re missing.

Click to buy “Iron Man: Armored Adventures – Volume One”

  

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