Iron Man 2 arrives on DVD and Blu-ray next week and, to help promote the set's elaborate special features, Marvel Studios hosted a Q and A with studio head Kevin Feige, currently hard at work on Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger.
Chief among the highlighted features were clips from "Ultimate Iron Man: The Making of 'Iron Man 2'", an hour-length behind the scenes documentary that charts the film's production from beginning to end. Also showcased, the film's original opening scene, starting with Tony Stark in the armor poised next to a toilet and ready to vomit, setting what would have been a very different tone for the first frame.
Click here to check out our full review of the set, available to own Tuesday, September 28th.
Q: As you were filming "Iron Man 2", did you think about certain extras you wanted to see on the Blu-ray?
Kevin Feige: The S.H.I.E.L.D. Data Vault goes back to a discussion we had during "Iron Man 1" and was something we knew we wanted to include on "Iron Man 2". The documentary was something else we planned from the beginning. As you can tell, Jon was very open to having cameras on set and sharing the process with the fans. We had the great Sean Ricigliano following him with a camera at every turn.
Q: Is the S.H.I.E.L.D. Vault intended to be an evolving feature on "Iron Man 2" via BD-Live or will more robust versions of the Vault appear on "Thor" and "Captain America" next fall?
Feige: One of the great things about Blu-ray technology is the ability to expand and update the content via BD-Live and that's certainly part of our discussion. We've had fun discussions about how to expand this experience on future releases, but clearly we need to wait and see how it is received on this release.
Q: What limits have you stretched of what the Iron Man 2 blu-ray experience of the film can be?
Feige: With more disc space we were able to offer the long form documentary, and superb video and audio quality, as well as the multiple viewing modes, allowing viewers the choice of how deep they want to delve into the extra content.
Q: Will there be upcoming BD-Live rewards such as "Thor" and "Captain America" footage for "Iron Man 2" Blu-ray owners?
Feige: For the first time it's exciting that BD-Live can be part of the discussions for marketing our upcoming movies.
Q: You have some awesome movies under your belt, how will you keep Marvel stories fresh and alive?
Feige: We have the incredibly unfair advantage of almost 70 years of material, all of which has been revamped and refreshed over the decades in comic book form. Our job is to look at the rich history of these characters and pick the best stories to tell.
Q: More an observation than a question. I watched the IM2 Blu-ray bonus features last night and applaud the Ultimate Iron Man documentary that does not require flipping through 10 different 2-minute featurettes to get a flavor for the making-of. Hope to see a similar approach taken on future Marvel Studios live-action film home video releases.
Feige: That's something we focused on a lot and something that Jon and I thought was very important. In many respects we're fans first and tried to put on the disc the kinds of things we would want to see.
Q: Can you talk about the balance between real effects and CGI ... how critical is that to the success of a superhero film?
Feige: The combination of practical and visual effects is very important. Jon is very sensitive to shots in which the camera work is done at impossible speeds and impossible angles. Our CGI vendors became very astute at what we call 'favreauvean' shots which contain those imperfections that make even a full CGI shot seem practical.
Q: What's is like to orchestra such a large group of talent and personalities?
Feige: While it can be challenging at times, it is ultimately extremely rewarding and the only way I like to work. The more talented people you're surrounded by, the better the product turns out.
Q: What is your favorite Iron Man suit and what did you want to see with the suit for "Iron Man 2"?
Feige: The suitcase suit is the thing we are most proud of and was the very first new suit we discussed... because it was right out of the books and because at the time we had no idea how we were going to pull it off. It's a testament to the great work of designer Ryan Meinerding and the designers at D-neg that it became this film's showcase suit and is on the cover of the Blu-ray.
Q: Jon Favreau mentioned that Mickey Rourke spent time in a Russian prison to research his role. What did you think when you heard that?
Feige: I was glad he didn't ask us about it, because I'm not sure we would have let him, but he did pick up some great ideas about his character, particularly his tattoos and his wardrobe.
Q: What was the decision process that made you decide against that alternate opening?
Feige: That's a good question. We debated back and forth for a very long time. While we liked the notion of starting off with our hero in an unexpected manner, ultimately Jon felt it was best to see Tony first revealed on the Stark Expo stage.
Q: What were some of the avenues and challenges the final moment of the first film set up that were different from what we've seen in other super hero films?
Feige: The 'I am Iron Man' moment at the end of "Iron Man 1" was intended to be the perfect finale to that story, whether there was a sequel or not. We knew we were locking ourselves into avoiding any secret identity plots in subsequent movies, which we were okay with because the secret identity trope was never part of what made Iron Man interesting.
Q: Have you guys been influenced by the look and feel of mobile devices interfaces such as the iPhone or Palm's webOS when designing Tony's gadgets and tech interface, as well as the extras on the discs?
Feige: All of us involved in the Iron Man franchise are early adopters when it comes to those kinds of gadgets. After "Iron Man 1" I think the influence went both ways. Which we see as a high compliment.
Q: Can you talk a bit about the Easter Eggs on the "Iron Man 2" release, specifically the connections to other Marvel Studios characters?
Feige: The fun thing about Easter Eggs is letting people discover them themselves, and while many have been discussed already, there are others still waiting to be found and many that may not become clear until you see our future releases.
Q: How important do you think a character having a flaw is? How big should that flaw be?
Feige: When it comes to larger than life characters like our Marvel super heroes a flaw is what makes them human and is their most important aspect. We can push that flaw as far as we can, just short of puking into a toilet.
Q: How hands on are you with the Marvel films when they are in production? For example, are you active on the "Captain America" set right now and taking a little "break" for this roundtable? Or do you more watch and provide feedback from afar?
Feige: I'm as active as my schedule allows. I just returned from being in the UK for three and a half months on Cap, and have returned to Los Angeles for "Thor" editorial and of course for this round table.
Q: Sam Rockwell is an uncommon talent. Any anecdotes to share about his work process or elements he brought to the film?
Feige: To quote Senator Stern, Sam Rockwell is a national treasure. Every choice and decision he makes adds to the character and makes the movie better. For example, check out his orange hands in the hanger scene, that was his choice. People kept trying to color correct it, and Jon constantly had to protect Sam's choice.
Q: Much of the history of Iron Man comics was combed for these films, how much has Matt Fraction's Invincible Iron Man series has been considered for material since it is the most contemporary story yet?
Feige: We're huge fans of the Fraction run. It was a big part of our discussions for part 2, and continues to be part of our conversations of how the character will be moving forward.
Q: Why did you decide to drop the scene where Natasha shoots Iron Man's cast?
Feige: We were always big fans of that scene and it played a big part in the trailers, but ultimately we decided it went against her character to seemingly push Tony to be so irresponsible with his tech.
Q: When it comes to extras, how much are you motivated by looking at what you've done before and what other discs have done and trying to top them?
Feige: It's been two years since we released a Blu-ray and we spent a lot of time looking at what other discs have done successfully, particularly Paramount's releases of the great "Star Trek" and "Transformers 2" Blu-rays.
Q: How do you decide on which deleted scenes to include in the DVD?
Feige: We included the ones that we always liked but that didn't work within the movie.
Q: Has there been any more talk of a Black Widow solo movie?
Feige: We've already started discussions with Scarlett about the idea of a solo movie and have begun putting together concepts, but "The Avengers" comes first.
Q: What led to the casting of Garry Shandling?
Feige: Co-producer of "Captain America" Stephen Broussard saw him on an episode of Tavis Smiley, and told his idea to Jeremy Latcham the co-producer of "Iron Man 2", who brought it up to Jon Favreau, who called Garry literally on the spot.
Q: Comic-con proved very fruitful for the Iron Man and other Marvel franchises. Can you offer a flavor of what to expect from Marvel at the next Comic-con San Diego?
Feige: We were very pleased and proud of the booth and panel we had at this year's Con. It's too early to start thinking about it, but we are trying to figure out if we can get the Aircraft Carrier stationed down there to hover above the convention center.
Q: Tony Stark's pet peeve of "handing him things" is brought up a lot more in the second one, is there a reason for that?
Feige: In keeping with the Tony Stark parallels to Howard Hughes and his eccentricities, it felt like a fun touch.
Q: Which extra features do you think will provide the most surprises for hardcore Iron Man fans?
Feige: The documentary and the S.H.I.E.L.D. viewer are filled with great content. And stay vigilant, there is stuff buried even deeper for more hardcore fans.
Q: Could you discuss the involvement of Kyle Cooper and Prologue for the credit sequences and virtual interface for Tony Stark? Did that evolve out of new concept, from the 90's Iron Man Comics or from "Star Trek"?
Feige: We've had a long relationship with Kyle and Prologue as they've done great title work for us over the years. As they moved into VFX, we were proud to be a part of that. The holographic floor in "Iron Man 2" is an expansion of the table top tech we established in "Iron Man 1".
Q: Do you see a strong need to key your ear to the coming technology in BD or 3D?
Feige: We need to keep on top of advancements in every technical arena in order to provide the best movie watching experiences.
Q: One of the cool things about building a library of Marvel Universe films seems like it's the home double, triple (or more) feature. Are there any features that streamline that experience, or suggest what order to watch the films in?
Feige: We produced the movies to be watched in the order they were released, but as it has already been pointed out in screen grabs online, there are clues in "Iron Man 2" that point to where "The Incredible Hulk" falls in the Marvel cinematic chronology.
Q: What were some of the biggest production challenges that you faced while filming "Iron Man 2"?
Feige: The Monaco sequence was one that provided the most concern for us in preproduction. The limitations of taking a full crew overseas and getting access to the track initially made it seem undoable. But the hard work of our physical production team, and particularly how strongly Favreau stuck to his guns and his ability to charm the Prince, gained us unprecedented access and earned us one of the best scenes in a Marvel film to date.
Q: What are some of the "Iron Man 2" features that ended up on the cutting room floor and would they ever be offered up in a different form like online or new release?
Feige: While we believe the best stuff ended up on the disc, there are a few sequences that were abandoned early on and are very unfinished... but could find their way onto a 50th anniversary edition ;)
Q: Kevin, what's your personal take on this upcoming generation settling to see big movies on small screens such as an iPhone or iPad, while missing out on the high def video AND audio blu-ray offers?
Feige: When a consumer buys a movie they should be able to watch it on any device they want, but clearly a theatrical or big screen experience is always best. Check out David Lynch's response.
Q: What can/will you tease about the coming Marvel movies, "Thor", "Captain America" & "The Avengers"?
Feige: As usual, I'm not going to tease much, but I will say that it's incredibly exciting to be back in the mode of introducing characters to the audience for the first time as we did with "Iron Man" in 2008. I think that moviegoers are in for a big surprise when more of "Thor" and "Captain America" is revealed in the coming months.
Q: Kevin, any final thoughts as we wrap up this virtual roundtable for Iron Man 2?
Feige: Thanks for the opportunity. It's always fun to delve back into a project a few months after release. I'm glad people are responding so well. A lot of hard work from a lot of talented people went into the disc, and I'm looking forward to people experiencing the numerous layers and features that the Blu-ray has to offer.