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Jonas Mekas To Direct Iron Man 2

By Mike Everleth ⋅ September 16, 2008

Split screen of Jonas Mekas and Iron Man

Well, he should. To hell with Jon Favreau.

Ok, nothing against Jon. I loved Iron Man the movie more than any comic book featuring that character I’ve ever read. And I thought Favreau did an excellent job with it, particularly in sticking to his guns and getting Robert Downey Jr. cast in the lead role.

But I heard something kind of astounding the other day. Although I included the info in a previous post, I kind of buried it, so here I am resurrecting it.

In this YouTube video from the Night After Night talk show that used to run on Comedy Central in the ’90s (I’ll embed it again at the bottom of this post), director Robert Downey Sr. said he was specifically inspired to start making movies from reading Jonas Mekas‘ “Movie Journal” column in the Village Voice. Downey Sr. had been an off-off-Broadway playwright when he read Mekas’ comment that anybody could make a movie. So, he did, which was called Balls Bluff. Previously to that, Downey Sr. had no ambition whatsoever to make films.

Robert Downey Jr. made his first movie appearance as a baby in his dad’s midnight movie hit Greaser’s Palace, and personally one of my favorite films.

The real point here though is that if Mekas hadn’t written “Movie Journal,” Downey Sr. probably would never have directed a film and, therefore I think we can conclude, Downey Jr. never would have become an actor. Or, if he did who knows if he would have had the same career trajectory. But what I’m truly getting at is:

No Jonas Mekas, then no Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.

So, how about we reward Jonas with directing the sequel?

Most people know Jonas, if they’re familiar with him at all, as a director of personal diaries of his own life. But Jonas’ first film, Guns of the Trees, was a fictional narrative about a woman thinking about ending her life while her friends try to talk her out of it. (I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know if she dies or not.) Given the right material, Mekas could totally try his hand at fiction again.

In the comics, the character of Tony Stark is an alcoholic and its been rumored that detail will work its way into the next Iron Man film. A movie about a guy who is killing himself with alcohol while, we can assume, his friends try to talk him out of drinking. Thematically similar to Guns of the Trees? You betcha! Perfect for Mekas!

The only “problem” with this scenario is that, of course, the film can’t have any special effects. But how about a nice, intimate little film starring Robert Downey Jr. struggling with his addiction demons while trying to maintain his relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow. Heck, given Downey Jr.’s own personal struggles in this arena, the film could probably be a mix of reality scenes and fictional ones. Perfectly post-modern, avant-garde, poetic, underground, whatever-you-want-to-call-it style. I think it’d be a beautiful film.

There was a jokey Onion article going around over the summer called “MTV Movie Awards Snubs Director Jonas Mekas Yet Again.” In response, Karina suggested — accurately in my opinion — that MTV should give Mekas his own show. Back in “Movie Journal,” Mekas predicted that this day would eventually come: That all people would have underground films broadcast into their homes. Granted, he was writing mostly in regards to the portability of Super 8 equipment. But, with YouTube, Vimeo, what-have-you, Mekas’ world vision has finally been realized and we need to really start crediting him with that in a very serious manner.

Giving him Iron Man 2, if he wants it, could be a start. Let’s at least offer. (And Favreau can direct Part 3.)

And below the Robert Downey Sr. interview I promised. He talks about Mekas just a minute or two in. He also talks fondly about the NYC underground scene of the ’60s. Good stuff: