When you look at Jon Favreau’s 27-year acting trajectory, it went from being one of the best indie actors/directors to becoming one of the kings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s a considerable jump financially, critically, and probably emotionally on his part.
Part of the emotional part is dealing with the pressures of topping yourself after already setting huge benchmarks as a director in the MCU and beyond. As a director/producer, Favreau has also helped pioneer photorealistic CGI in films when you include 2016’s successful The Jungle Book remake.
Was joining the MCU a blessing or curse for Jon Favreau?
On a critical and financial level, we’re sure Favreau is more than grateful he had the opportunity to join the MCU from the beginning and set the Iron Man films into motion. Of course, he’s kept himself very much involved with the MCU since then being executive producer of many Avengers films, not including playing Happy Hogan right up to today.
Thanks to Disney owning Marvel now, it’s allowed Favreau to expand his horizons doing these new Disney “live-action” remakes, not including soon working on future Star Wars streaming shows and movies.
All of this put him at the very top of the director A-list, but it also creates higher and higher expectations through each of his films. Working in these overwhelmingly popular media franchises is going to mean fans of each continually expecting something better than what came before.
While we’ve seen directors of Favreau’s caliber face similar problems (e.g. Spielberg), they almost always found some way to keep topping themselves.
Favreau has opened up about the pressures of directing ‘The Lion King’
In a recent interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Favreau had a lengthy discussion analyzing the pressures of making The Lion King beyond directing Iron Man 11 years ago. You could see he still has major concerns about whether TLK is going to please everyone who grew up with the original animated Disney classic and assimilated it into pop culture.
You have to wonder what the initial reaction was when Favreau was either being offered the film, or championing a Lion King remake on his own. Disney might have approached him first about doing it based on the technological leap he helped usher in for The Jungle Book’s animal characters.
A good argument exists the only real justification for remaking The Lion King was to use it as a showcase to demonstrate photorealistic CGI, soon the norm in future movies.
No doubt Favreau still worries whether this remake will only be known for that rather than standing apart as an entirely satisfying Disney reboot.
How will Favreau handle the negative reviews?
Nobody could go into making a remake of The Lion King without being automatically savaged by critics. Many already have after seeing it, with some saying it was completely unnecessary, outside of the innovative CGI visuals. This belies the initial response Favreau said he saw at the L.A. premiere.
All the fears Favreau has of disappointing people was obviously much greater than he let on during his Kimmel interview.
The good news for him is it’ll still likely make a barrel of money, enough to keep him on the A-list for creating more original fare. He’s already lined up for numerous top-dollar projects in the years ahead.
Only Favreau has the staying power to take on The Lion King, perhaps be bombarded by negative reviews, and still survive unscathed. Then again, there is the scarlet letter of being “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes at 59%.
Legacy is another thing Favreau should worry about now. Doing more live-action Disney remakes will hopefully be off that list, despite the likelihood of receiving historical credit for making animated films look real.