Jon Favreau–The Architect of Wonder

It is one thing when you have successfully made a living as an actor. But to have the foresight to dip your toe into directing, producing, and writing, there is a good chance you are making a recipe for success. When someone like me watches Elf countless times during the holiday season, one must wonder what other goodies can this filmmaker conjure up. Aside from acting in dramatic and comedic films, he has also directed some major blockbusters. Favreau has helped jump-start the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He successfully crafted a modern interpretation (depending on who you ask) of the most iconic animated film of all time. He helped secure the future of the Star Wars franchise with The Mandalorian. I wonder what his relaxation regimen is.

Star Wars: the Mandalorian poster

Jon Favreau came to be on my radar thanks to my all-time favorite Christmas film, Elf. Will Ferrell steals the show. Zooey Deschanel is adorkable and so lovable. Bob Newhart’s performance alone is a national treasure. James Caan is James Caan being the best James Caan he can be. It is so full of heart, humor, whimsy, sugar rush, and finding your family and holiday spirit. This film was  Enchanted before it was mainstream. He seems to have comedy down with films like Made and his 2014 passion project Chef. He also penned his industry breakout Swingers. Favreau took his talents to new heights with classics like Zathura, a standalone sequel to Jumanji. Cowboys and Aliens is a classic and will always make me wonder why it wasn’t as successful as it should have been.

But Favreau would soon strike gold when he helped bring to life the comic book superhero Iron Man to the big screen. The film’s success not only made waves for a cinematic universe of movies and television shows but reignited Robert Downey Jr’s career. Favreau was then able to make Disney happy by making two modern interpretations of Disney animated classics. Opinions may vary on how faithful Favreau was to the classics, but 2016’s The Jungle Book and 2019’s The Lion King were financially successful. Not a bad day at work when Disney also lets you stay on as an executive producer on several Marvel films in the future after the success of Iron Man. Jon Favreau seems to be drawn to the tools of filmmaking. I have no doubt when making Iron Man, they had to raise the bar in how to make Iron Man believable as a practical character and when it came to visual effects. Even a tall order when it came to creating creatures that could emote effectively as well. It is an impressive feat.

2008 poster of Iron Man.

I like the fact that Jon Favreau did not limit himself to just films. He made it work in television as well. I loved rewatching the hit series Dinner for Five, where five people from the industry are having dinner and are swapping stories about being in the industry. The episodes featuring Kevin Smith, JJ Abrams, Stan Lee, Mark Hamill, and Ben Affleck are pure entertainment. Then you are just even more in awe when he got to play on Seinfeld, Friends, Rocket Power, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Family Guy, My Name is Earl, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. But wait, Favreau had to love being in the industry so much he just had to direct as well. I would have thought you were lying if you told me he directed episodes in The Office, Undeclared, Revolution, The Orville, Young Sheldon, and The Mandalorian. The man is always, but he seems to love what his work. I enjoyed listening to his guest appearance on the Kevin Pollack Chat show for two hours. Such poise, sincerity, and geek love for film and pop culture.

Jon Favreau’s creation of The Mandalorian for Lucasfilm is on another level of awestruck wonder. It seemed like for the general public, the future of Star Wars after the finale of the Skywalker Saga was in question. Many were not satisfied with the narrative from the 2019 film and the creative direction that had transpired. It did not seem to bother the Queens native as he crafted a story post Return of the Jedi about a lone gunslinger and mercenary. His next mission changes his life forever and gives his life a new and profound meaning he never expected. The show added familiar aspects of the world created by George Lucas while adding new dimensions to the galaxy while calmly setting the stage for the prequel trilogy. The success of two seasons garnered many spinoffs sparking new life into fans of this illustrious universe.

The Mandalorian stands with Boba Fett and Fennec Shand.

I applaud Jon Favreau for wanting to be the best with each project. Favreau has cracked the code to make effective storytelling work due to his time working in movies and television. He learned how the industry was constantly evolving and finding stories that would effectively meld with new and emerging technologies. The results speak for themselves. I am always in awe hearing him speak in interviews about how his artistic mind works. I am glad to be along for the ride.

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