Cassavetes to Direct Iron Man

When you think superhero movies, directors like Sam Rami, Bryan Singer and Tim Burton automatically come to mind. In a surprise move, however, New Line Cinema and Marvel Studios have put their upcoming screen adaptation of Iron Man in the hands of Nick Cassavetes, son of indie legend John Cassavetes and director of The Notebook and the critically acclaimed Sean Penn/John Travolta drama She’s So Lovely. Iron Man is scheduled to hit theaters in 2006.

Marvel Studios CEO Avi Arad (Spider-Man, X-Men) and Angry Films’ Don Murphy are producing Iron Man from a script by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and David Hayter. Marvel and New Line say they will begin casting immediately.

Based on the long-running comic book series, Iron Man tells the story of Tony Stark, a driven inventor and enigmatic heir to the Stark Enterprises fortune. Like most Marvel characters, he leads a double life, commanding his empire by day and at night becoming Iron Man, the living embodiment of decades of defense spending and innovation. With billions of dollars worth of state-of-the-art armor and weaponry at his disposal, Stark fights crime, terrorism and corporate espionage, but begins to crack under the strain of his fractured lifestyle.

Arad comments, “Being able to work with such an acclaimed writer/director as Nick Cassavetes to bring one of our pre-eminent Super Hero franchises to the big screen is really special. Nick grew up reading Iron Man and personally loves the character. He shares our vision of how to bring Iron Man to life in a way that will appeal to a mass audience as well as the core superhero fan base."

Iron Man marks Marvel’s second big franchise deal with New Line. The two entities previously teamed up to launch the Blade franchise, which continues on Dec. 8 with the release of Blade Trinity, starring Wesley Snipes.

Cassavetes also has a standing relationship with New Line. This summer he adapted the best-seller The Notebook for the studio and previously directed the 2002 Denzel Washington vehicle, John Q. He is currently in production on the drama Alpha Dog, which features an ensemble cast including Bruce Willis, Justin Timberlake, Sharon Stone and Emile Hirsch.

Production president Toby Emmerich is overseeing Iron Man for New Line, along with senior VP of production Stokely Chaffin, VP George Waud and creative exec Jeff Katz. Spearheading the production for Marvel Studios are Kevin Feige and Ari Arad.

Marvel is also currently in production on the much anticipated adaptation of Fantastic Four, which hits theaters July 1, 2005.