ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There's the surprise Nick Fury moment at the end of Iron Man how did that come about?
JON FAVREAU: We wanted something for the fans.... Nick Fury from the Ultimates which is a new series of books that sort of reconceives the tradition of Marvel characters he was always depicted to resemble Samuel L. Jackson. And so I turned to [Marvel Studios President] Kevin Feige and said, ''You know what would blow their minds? Should we so this?'' Kevin was like, ''Let's try.'' And then we actually pulled it together. It was just a little scene, just a little tip of the hat for the fans that we were paying attention to what had been established, and a way to sort of tee up the Avengers. We brought [Jackson] in on a secret day of shooting, we had a skeleton crew so that the secret wouldn't get out and then, like, not even a week later, it got out. Sam was trying to deny it. It became a big deal. People were sure and they knew about it and they knew it was real. I don't know how they knew. Somehow it slipped.... It was Kevin's idea to cut [the scene] off all preview prints. And so the fan boys who would interview me [before the movie opened] would be like, ''What happened? Did you cut it out? Is it going to be on the DVD?'' I was like, ''Look, it's only fun if it's a surprise.'' Then we slapped it right back on the print for the premiere, so the first people to see it in theaters actually got to see it for the first time. I think that was a very, very clever way to keep the dialogue going with the fans, because if you don't have any tricks up your sleeve, they feel like they've already seen the whole movie before they did.
You said you were consciously teeing up the Avengers?
Yeah. I think it would be a very smart third film in the Iron Man series. It's very difficult to keep these franchises from running out of gas after two [movies]. The high point seems to be the second one, judging by history: If you just look at the consensus in the reviews, you see that X-Men 2 and Spider-Man 2 are sort of seen by the fans as the sort of high point of both franchises, though I don't necessarily agree with that. But to be able to fold it into an Avengers is something you just couldn't do in another studio, and I think what Marvel is about is stuff you can't do at a bigger studio. They gave me tremendous creative freedom; they gave me tremendous freedom in casting, at the end of the day. Even though there was concern, they ultimately backed a decision [to hire Downey to play Tony Stark] that I don't think a studio would've, and now they're benefiting from having that nimble creative team. And that's, honestly, the most attractive aspect of working with them again.
Do you have any other projects in the works?
There's a lot of stuff I've sort of been talking about, but everything's sort of been floating you know it's been so much work to finish this thing. I had no idea it would be this much work. Usually on a movie you have some time to sort of prep something new or do a lot of work in post because you're pretty much done once you lock picture; there's no such thing as locking picture on a superhero movie, where you're literally making picture changes into the sound mix. It's been a real marathon and it ended in a sprint and it all paid off, so no complaints here.