Director’s Chair Introduction: Jon Favreau

by Tony Cogan · May 1, 2018 · Director's Chair · 3 Comments

Deadline: 2nd June 2018

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Hello everyone, it’s time to announce the director that will be highlighted for this month and, seeing how we’ve just had the release of Avengers: Infinity War, I thought it would be good to highlight the director that started off the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Jon Favreau.

Now, Favreau is one of those directors that got their start as an actor. Prior to taking the directors chair he had roles in things like Rudy, Deep Impact, Love and Sex and made a series of guest appearances in Friends. Around this time though, he started to take more of a role behind the scenes, firstly as a writer and producer, alongside being an actor, with Swingers, which was the breakthrough film for Vince Vaughn. Following on from the success of Swingers, he re-teamed with Vaughn for his directorial debut, Made, although the film was not a financial success. Favreau really started to take off as a director with the success of Elf, which has now become a Christmas staple, with a stage musical being made out of it, inspiring a stop-motion special in 2014 and, along with Old School, helped to establish Will Ferrell as a comedic lead following supporting performances in stuff like the Austin Powers series and Zoolander.

Following on from Elf, Favreau had his first experience with the comic book genre taking on the role of Foggy Nelson in the 2003 version of Daredevil, which was a complete disaster in the theatrical cut (although the director’s cut is a considerable improvement). As a director meanwhile, Favreau followed up Elf with Zathura: A Space Adventure, a spiritual successor to Jumanji, which I find is quite underrated, and another financial disappointment (probably not helped by some of the promotion being done through The Apprentice). After this, Favreau, wanting to work with Avi Arad again after Daredevil, went on to direct Iron Man, kick starting the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Favreau’s guidance, the tone of the MCU started to get established with a strong focus on character development and humour, with a lot of dialogue in the film being improvised to give the film a more natural feel. The decision Favreau made that ultimately helped the MCU work so well in the long run though was his decision to cast Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark over the initial opposition of Marvel due to his prior history with substance abuse and legal issues. Favreau staying so firm in his decision worked out amazingly well for Marvel with Robert Downey Jr helping to make the MCU and the success Favreau had with Iron Man led to him being brought back to direct the sequel (although with more oversight from the studio to less successful results) and working as an executive producer for the Avengers films, alongside acting in the MCU as Happy Hogan.

Following the Iron Man films, Favreau stayed in the blockbuster world with Cowboys and Aliens but was not successful with this film, the film barely making its budget back at the box office and it being a critical disappointment, with the jarring tonal shifts brought about by the script by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci being the main issue, with this showing that the only person who can make a good film from a Kurtzman and Orci script is still JJ Abrams. Following that disappointment, Favreau went smaller with his next film, Chef, bringing about a passion for cooking in Favreau, which can be seen in the below video he collaborated with for the YouTube series Binging with Babish, with the plot of the film being seen as a reflection of Favreau himself wanting to get away from the blockbuster scene for a while and reignite his creative energy.

After Chef, Favreau returned to the blockbuster scene with his biggest financial success, directing the remake of Disney’s The Jungle Book, creating it as a balance between the original Disney film and Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli stories, with extensive photo-realistic CGI being utilised to make the animals feel as real as possible and make the mix of the CG environment with Neel Sethi as Mowgli feel more natural, along with it allowing Favreau to replicate the style of animation used in the original Disney Jungle Book, mainly the multiplane camera, as much as possible. The critical and commercial success Favreau had with The Jungle Book has made him one of the go-to directors for the Disney remakes, with Favreau working on a sequel to The Jungle Book, along with a remake of The Lion King to be released next year.

Now, as usual, I want you to send in anything you’ve done on the films of Jon Favreau, be it review, podcast, whatever. If you need a quick reminder of Favreau’s films, the list is below.

  • Made
  • Elf
  • Zathura: A Space Adventure
  • Iron Man
  • Iron Man 2
  • Cowboys and Aliens
  • Chef
  • The Jungle Book

Thanks for reading this and I look forward to all the pieces on Favreau’s films you send my way.