Marvel Studios mega-producer Avi Arad confirmed to us for the first time over the weekend that 2-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank filmed some top-secret moments for “Iron Man,” the highly-anticipated superhero flick due in theaters next May. The news raises eyebrows not only because it isn’t the type of film Swank normally appears in, but also because it could be assumed that her role would lay the groundwork for a future, bigger Marvel appearance. The rumor mill first began circulating Swank’s name after director Jon Favreau capitalized the “s” in “Swank” in a MySpace blog post.
“How do you know [about that]?,” a stunned Arad replied when asked about Swank. After a few beats, he admitted: “It’s a cameo.”
Following along the lines of secret “Iron Man” actors, the man behind the “Spider-Man” and “X-Men” films dodged a question about Samuel L. Jackson’s foreshadowing scenes as Nick Fury, saying “I can’t talk about that.”
Clearly a bit frustrated, Arad then amended himself. “The Sam thing was supposed to be the biggest secret of them all,” he shrugged. “It’s amazing how it got out.”
Nevertheless, the existence of Jackson’s hard-boiled superspy reveals a newfound willingness by Marvel to begin mimicking the way its comics mix different characters into each other’s storylines on a regular basis.
“It’s because now we have control over the properties,” Arad explained, citing the new era of Marvel funding such upcoming flicks as “Iron Man,” “Nick Fury” and “Captain America,” after a decade of holding hands with studios like Sony for Spider-Man or Fox for The Fantastic Four. “Now you can mix and match. It used to be different studios having different characters.”
“You try and get three major studios to sit together and cross [promote],” he laughed. It’s too tough.”
On the Spider-Man front, Arad (who is shifting gears considerably with August 3rd’s “Bratz: The Movie”) gave us this update: “We’re starting on our journey for number 4. We’re just at the beginning of the process, feeling it, and feeling where we want to go.”
Based on Arad’s comments, however, fans might find it hard to not feel a bit speculative as to why a double-Oscar winning A-list actress would make a cameo in a superhero movie. Since “Iron Man” is laying the groundwork for the “Nick Fury” movie that Marvel hopes to begin filming relatively soon, one theory is that Swank will be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent alongside Sam the man.
But just as probable, it seems, is speculation that Swank might be setting herself up for a starring superhero flick down the line. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned from her last award-winning performance, it’s that she certainly has the physique to pull it off.