‘Iron Man 2′ and its villains — are three too many?

April 09, 2010 | 5:10 a.m.

“IRON MAN 2″ COUNTDOWN: 29 DAYS

Tony Stark breaks all the rules (even the one that says superheroes must keep a secret identity) and he always seems to comes out on top —  that’s why we love him. But now comes “Iron Man 2,” a film about secret dangers, the sins of the father and the nasty price of modern celebrity. The movie lands on May 7 in the U.S. and, every day until then, we’ll have behind-the-scenes scoops on the summer’s most anticipated film.

Scarlett Johannson

Can you have too many villains in a film? Oh, absolutely — it happens all the time, says director Jon Favreau, who may be tempting fate by adding three “name” actors — Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell and Scarlett Johansson  — as characters of varied shadiness.

“You want to be sure you don’t suffer from multi-villainitis,” Favreau said. “That’s been the downfall of many other superhero franchises.” He didn’t name names but, well, we will: Sam Raimi and Joel Schumacher have shown that more can be less when it comes to bad guys.

But for “Iron Man 2,” Favreau says, he is looking at his three imported stars as key parts of a physics equation. The givens are the three main characters returning from the first film — Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle, this time).

“I was more concerned about the interpersonal dynamic and how the presence of Natasha [a.k.a. the Black Widow, played by Johansson] would affect Tony and Pepper, because what I didn’t want to do is make this film episodic, like just another episode of a TV series. So one way to approach that is shift the dynamic with the introduction of new characters. So you have Justin Hammer [Rockwell] inserted into the Tony-Rhodey relationship, and you have Natasha Romanoff inserted into the Tony-Pepper relationship. When done right, a superhero movie has the character’s personal life mirroring what’s happening in their superhero world, and sometimes you have to force things to do it. In this case, I’d say, we found an organic way to do it. We wanted both A-story and B-story to be affected by these new characters.”

– Geoff Boucher

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