Monday, January 6, 2020

The Genius of Jon Favreau

Most fans know him as Happy Hogan. Some might know him as Monica’s millionaire boyfriend on Friends. Maybe even as the guy from Swingers. But Jon Favreau is so much more than an actor. The genius of Jon Favreau lies in his writing and directing of some of the most memorable, successful, and transformational films of all time.

Favreau really made a name for himself when he directed Elf in 2003, which became an instant classic. Favreau took on a big comedic personality (Will Ferrell), and somehow managed to make a movie that was at once funny and charming, heartwarming and quotable, lovable and just a dang good story. Favreau knew when to let Will Ferrell be himself, and when to reign him in. And then along came Iron Man.

In 2008, Favreau took on another big personality (Robert Downey, Jr.) and once again knew when to let Downey be himself and let his personality shine, and when to hold back and let the story and geekiness and the worldbuilding take over. Not enough can be said about the importance of Favreau’s Iron Man. It set the stage for one of the biggest, most successful, ambitious, culturally relevant, critically acclaimed, and fun franchises in history. Favreau’s direction created a tone that would be echoed in every Marvel movie that followed. In addition to those successes, Favreau also directed Zathura (a fun sequel to the original Jumanji), Cowboys & Aliens (inventive and well-directed, even if it wasn’t a huge success), and several live-action (with tons of CG assistance) adaptations of classic Disney films.

2016’s Jungle Book was so much better than it was expected to be. The story was familiar, but just different enough to warrant a remake. Favreau will direct a sequel, due out later this year. 2019’s  Lion King adaptation won praise for its beauty and hyper-realistic style. Indeed, it felt like watching a National Geographic documentary where the animals were performing Hamlet.

And then came Star Wars. Favreau hasn’t written much, but he was given a chance to write and produce the first live-action television production in the Star Wars universe. What was created was a hugely successful, pop culture phenomenon that is being hailed as the new direction for Star Wars. (See our review here.) Frankly, it’s not easy to please Star Wars fans. But somehow Favreau managed to not only satisfy (but not pander to) fans, he also impressed critics, and made a huge dent in meme-dom with Baby Yoda!

So the big question is, since everything he touches turns to gold, what should Jon Favreau work on next?

Check out our review of Favreau's projects, The Mandalorian Season One and Season Two.

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