When people give credit to the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its ability to maintain a certain level of quality throughout, the majority of that credit goes to Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige. Feige undoubtedly plays a huge role in both departments, but Jon Favreau's contributions to the universe often go without the true respect they deserve. Favreau was ultimately the man who led Iron Man to being as great as it was and it was his push for Robert Downey Jr. that has given fans the greatest version of the character imaginable.
Not only did Favreau direct two of the first three films in the MCU, he also had a role as Happy Hogan. The pressure of delivering a sequel so quickly ended with Iron Man 2 being not as well received as the first. That did not end Favreau's relationship with Marvel after once again reprising his role in Iron Man 3, but it was recently revealed that he would also be in Spider-Man: Homecoming as well. Favreau recently spoke about the fun experience he had on the project and the lesser amount of pressure involved as an actor.
Favreau recently sat down with Yahoo and discussed his involvement with the MCU at the current time. While the mystery project hinted at by RDJ was not discussed, his role as Happy Hogan was. In explaining his decision to not return for Iron Man 3, he mentioned the burden that was on his shoulders to not only deliver a great movie, but also the inability to concentrate on other projects. Nevertheless, he seems to be very happy to be back in the universe as an actor. Favreau said:
Well, as far as directing goes, I had done two back-to-back, and that required a tremendous amount of concentration on one subject. Fortunately, I didn’t lose connection with it; I just wasn’t directing there. I still was executive-producing Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron and Iron Man 3, and I appeared in Iron Man 3. So I maintained the relationship as part of the family. And now, in Spider-Man: Homecoming, coming back and reuniting with the characters as an actor — it’s a lot of fun. It allows me to maintain the relationship with the MCU, but also to do other things that are interesting that are outside of that genre and that set of characters.
Outside of his own direction, Favreau has now had the ability to play Happy as Shane Black (Iron Man 3) and now Jon Watts (Spider-Man: Homecoming) see fit. Favreau said the character is in good hands now and moving forward, plus it is much easier for him:
Yeah. It’s fun to come back as an actor. Especially when the filmmakers are taking care of you, and taking care of the characters and the story. If you’re in good hands, it’s great to come in and play in somebody else’s world. That’s how I started, as an actor. I really enjoy being on other people’s sets, especially if I have cool things to do. It’s all the fun and much less of the responsibility.
Even if Favreau never returns to the director's chair within the MCU, more appearances as Happy Hogan could be in store as long as Tony Stark is around. Given that RDJ is still the biggest star Marvel has, that could mean quite a few more appearances for both characters. Still, it would be exciting to see Favreau return as the director for Downey's final solo film, such as an Iron Man 4 in Phase 4.
Then again, Favreau has done very well for himself outside of the MCU. His small indie film Chef received critical praise and most recently, The Jungle Book blew viewers away thanks to his ability to create a lifelike environment and talking animals. Favreau is still in the Disney and Marvel family and likely will be for quite some time, especially as he continues to serve as an executive producer on upcoming films.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Untitled Avengers – May 3, 2019; and as-yet-untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.