Today word got out that Marvel wants to get Iron Man 2 into theaters by April of 2010, which would mean the movie would start shooting by early 2009, which is actually sooner than it seems. Marvel’s got real hard on for their movie properties at the moment – Iron Man was obviously a huge hit, and the buzz on The Incredible Hulk has done a 180 (now that people have actually seen the thing), plus they have this whole intense five year plan, like they’re the Chairman Mao of comic book movies.

Jon Favreau’s not so sure about all this, though. Talking with fans on MySpace, Favs showed some real concern about rushing Iron Man 2 into theaters just to meet a date.

I am concerned, however, about the announced release date of April 2010. Neither Robert nor I were consulted about this and we are both concerned about how realistic the date is in light of the fact that we have no script, story or even writers hired yet. This genre of movie is best when it is done thoughtfully and with plenty of preparation. It might be better to follow the BB/DK, X/X2 three year release pattern than to scramble for a date. It is difficult because there are no Marvel 09 releases and they need product, but I also think we owe it to the fans to have a great version of IM2 and, at this point, we would have less time to make it than the first one.

What’s this? A filmmaker concerned about the quality of his movie? Unthinkable.

Of course Favs is dead right – too often movies get thrown through development and production just so there will be product. That’s how you end up with a Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. And it’s why so many sequels stink – the original had years to marinate and get developed, but the need to pump part two out with the quickness gets in the way of things like a script and all that jazz.

That’s sort of disconcerting, of course; Marvel’s ambitious plans continue to fill me with healthy skepticism (and also much excitement, to be fair), and I wonder if their ironclad dates are going to get in the way of developing these films as well as they can be developed. Iron Man 2 could be only the tip of the rushed iceberg here.

Meanwhile, something else Favs says also makes me concerned. A couple of weeks back he was on the Howard Stern show and said that Marvel hadn’t signed him on officially for part 2. While visiting the editing bay for The Incredible Hulk I had the chance to ask Marvel’s Kevin Feige about this, and he told me that it was standard practice to not sign directors up front for sequels, and that the studio would start negotiating with Favreau soon. Well, that was two weeks ago and they still haven’t gotten in touch:

It’s been five weeks since the one and only phone call my reps have gotten from Marvel. I know their hands are full with the Hulk and I’m sure they will get into it shortly, as they tell me they intend to. I ran into the Marvel guys at the Hulk premiere and everyone sounded eager to get to work on IM2.

Why is it that the Marvel guys are so gung ho about setting dates and shit but not in getting their creative ducks lined up? So far they’ve been incredible about hiring interesting directors (and the names I’ve heard bandied about for things like Runaways continue to impress with their boldness) and actors, but could the sudden flush of success get the better of the studio?

It seems evident that the lack of communication from Marvel is bothering Favreau, especially as it relates to making big decisions about the film. If Favs isn’t signed and the studio insists on a rushed schedule, might he not come back? That seems like a real possibility to me – Iron Man has firmly established Favreau as a playa in the industry, backing up the big Elf bucks. He would probably have no problem finding new, very high profile gigs now if he moved off Iron Man 2. Let’s hope that everybody gets on the phone and figures things out, and that Brett Ratner isn’t brought in for IM2.