Last night I wrote a story about the burgeoning communication gap between Jon Favreau and Marvel Studios in regards to Iron Man 2. Not only has the studio not been in touch with Favreau, they’ve set a release date for the sequel that he’s very, very unhappy with (and for good reason – read it all right here).

This morning a rumor appeared that gives everything a much more sinister bent. It’s important to know that this is just a rumor, and it also sounds to me sort of like people are playing a PR game behind the scenes*, so salt must be on hand when you read this.

The big rumor is that Marvel just doesn’t want to pay Jon Favreau a whole bunch of money. According to a source that IESB trusts 100%, the studio thinks they have a winner in Iron Man 2 without having to give Favreau a bump in his director’s fee (which is obviously what he would want). Essentially they’re playing cheap, thinking they can get someone else to come along – someone hungry for a hit and a chance at the big leagues, probably – who will do the movie for much less than Favreau… and who might not be as headstrong as Favreau could be, considering that he’s coming off a major (unexpected) success.

My biggest problem with this rumor is that Favreau has stated that Marvel only called him once since the movie came out, which is hardly a sign that there’s been a back and forth of any sort on fees. It’s possible that the behind the scenes buzz at Marvel is that a new director could be cheaper, but I don’t feel like this is the deciding factor in who directs Iron Man 2 – it’s going to be all about that rushed release date.

*if you want to see a PR game being played out, read this article by Harry Knowles, where he pretends like Edward Norton doing a small amount of press for The Incredible Hulk discounts all of the absolutely true stories of behind the scenes trouble (and the fact that Norton is not happy with the theatrical cut of the film). The whole thing reads as grossly dishonest.