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FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2007


By Ernie Estrella

SAN DIEGO -- Another year of Comic-Con and another year of comics related movies that dominate the headlines. Some of the creators behind recent and future comic-related films talked to fans in the Art of Adapting Comics to Screen Panel on Friday.

Jeff Goldsmith, senior editor of Creative Screenwriting, moderated the panel, asking questions to Stan Lee, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer writer Don Payne, Iron Man co-writer Mark Fergus, Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige and Teen Titans writer Mark Verheiden.

Iron Man took a bulk of the attention with Fergus deflecting inquiries into plot details.

"It takes the wartime sensibilities that Stan wrote about and made them contemporary," he said. "It's amazing that the more things change the more things stay the same. It all translated so sadly but beautifully easy. The context of the original Iron Man has this Haliburton model. Where we're at right now, this story is really timeless and relevant, unfortunately."

"I'll just say that it's about a man versus himself, and that's not a cop out. The origin story is dealing with all the aspects of his life becoming the villains in his life. The villains seem to have the more popular opinion heroes of their own story. The hero has to shape themselves in the spite of the villains."

* When Lee was asked how he originally came up with the Tony Stark character he said, "I think I was drunk with power. I'm going to get a hero that was everything that people hated. I was told you can't have a hero with a bad heart, a millionaire, who was an industrialist... and I took everything I was told not to do and put it into one hero."

The casting of Robert Downey Jr. made for an interesting choice and poetic, and Feige commented, "The challenge of writing someone who is seemingly unlikeable and making the audience like that person. Stan was very good with that. As we were casting we were conscious of that. We needed to have someone who when they said things didn't come off like a complete jerk. Robert Downey Jr. is an incredibly likable guy. Whether you get into (Downey's past) or not, people still like him and still root for him.

Fergus said, "What excited us about Robert when you think of Tony with the personal demons and his tortured soul and does he want to take responsibility or think it matters... every way he's an extremely rich character. We have a lot of miles to travel to find some sense of self. Robert is so capable of bringing those layers."

* Goldsmith dug a little deeper with Feige while on the subject of flaws. He mentioned Tony's #1 flaw was alcohol and whether or not it would be addressed in the movie.

"Iron Man wasn't about an alcoholic who became a superhero it was the other way around," Feige said. "It's not part of the first one but if we make future films we would explore that. The alcoholism story came into Iron Man hundreds of issues in so like the comics we think that should be looked into down the road."

* Verheiden gave another tidbit regarding the Teen Titans film he is writing.

"Nightwing is in the film, Robin's in it too so think what you will. We will be dealing with a transitional period of their (Teen Titans) lives. I am approaching it from a Battlestar Galactica paradigm. First thing I want to find is the characters and what makes them exciting, different and what you want to care about. They'll be the Teen Titans, not the 20-something Titans. Also, Marv Wolfman's work is the inspirational touch point for the current work, so that will be the one that we'll be springing off from."

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