This May, Jon Favreau is serving up Chef, a film about an aspiring chef who leaves his constrictive job to follow his ambitions and start a food truck. Indeed, this independent comedy is a far cry from his recent jobs directing blockbuster-level films. However, it is possible that this film was heavily influenced by his 2010 blockbuster film, Iron Man 2. I’m not just referring to the fact that Chef reunites Favreau with Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson, but the possibility that its plot is based on the troubled production of Iron Man 2. Indeed it does seem like Favreau is on good terms with Marvel, as he still took producer credits for The Avengers and Iron Man 3, but could it be that his new film shows an underlying bitterness at them?
Immediately following the massive opening weekend of the first Iron Man, rumors circulated that the second film will deal with Tony Stark’s alcoholism, a major plotline from the original comic books. Favreau first implied his coverage of this plotline in an interview with Empire Magazine saying:
“Tony’s expected to be a role model, and I don’t think he’s ready to be one. He’s under a great deal of pressure, and when you’re under pressure, I think you find outlets for that."
Unfortunately, Iron Man 2 was also slated to open the summer movie season in 2010. Favreau himself admitted that two years was not enough time to make a compelling sequel. In June, 2008, he posted on Myspace that:
“I ran into the Marvel guys at the Hulk premiere and everyone sounded eager to get to work on IM2. I am concerned, however, about the announced release date of April 2010. Neither Robert nor I were consulted about this and we are both concerned about how realistic the date is in light of the fact that we have no script, story or even writers hired yet.”
Looking back at Iron Man 2, some parts of the movie do deal with Tony Stark becoming an alcoholic. This is mainly shown in the party scene where Tony gets drunk because he can’t handle the pressure of being a superhero and the fact that his core is killing him. However, this plotline seemed to be an afterthought, as most of the movie seemed to be setup for The Avengers as well as a story about the Stark family’s legacy. Basically, all of these plot threads were mashed together to the point where there was little room for decent character development or even enough action.
Looking at the trailer to Chef, Favreau’s character, Carl, is confronted by his boss, Riva, and is scolded for wanting to do the menu his way. “Now, suddenly you wanna be an artist,” says Riva to Carl, “Well be an artist on your own time; this is MY restaurant.” Could this character represent the Marvel executives that rushed the production of Iron Man 2 and interfered with Jon’s vision for the story? The trailer then shows Carl reading a scathing review for his cooking, possibly mirroring the reviews saying that Iron Man 2 was a step down from the first one. Perhaps Favreau feels that he took the fall for crafting a disappointing film when the blame should be on the Marvel executives that rushed the sequel.
“...I could have done better,” says Carl to Scarlett Johansson’s character, “I should have cooked the food that I was gonna cook.” It’s certainly possible that the “food” he was gonna “cook” actually symbolizes the plotline of Tony Stark’s spiral into alcohol addiction that he wanted to cover.
Now, I don’t mean to make any assumptions on Favreau’s opinion with Marvel. I just think the similarities of “Chef” to what happened in real life are worth noting. What do you guys think? Is it all a coincidence, or could Favreau be venting frustration at Marvel for not allowing him to do Iron Man 2 how he wanted? Either way, I’m personally looking forward to seeing “Chef.” Possible Marvel relations aside, it looks like a visually appealing, heartwarming comedy about the joys of cooking. With the positive early reviews, I’m guessing it will be a must-see. Check out the trailer here: