Happy Happiest 5-4 birthday to Happy Hogan himself, Jon Favreau! To celebrate, we're promoting the Mandalorian creator and MCU veteran's 9 best films that he was both featured in and played a hand in bringing to the big screen.
At age 30, Favreau had his breakout moment playing a version of his twentysomething self in this tale about guys being guys in '90s Hollywood, trying to make it in the industry and canvassing the neighborhood at night in back-alley bars, hipster dives and swing-dancing emporiums. Favreau got the project rolling not only as the headline star, but the film's original screenwriter. Was he really "so money?" Oh yeah. He was a dual (sometimes quadruple) threat from the very beginning.
Comedy / 1996 / R
A transplanted New Yorker attempting to acclimate to Los Angeles, Mike Peters (Jon Favreau), is struggling to both boost his comedy career and get over his last relationship. A self-proclaimed master of seduction, Mike's buddy, Trent Walker (Vince Vaughn), tries to show him how to make connections and get the attention of women. Slowly moving toward regaining his confidence, Mike meets the gorgeous and down-to-earth Lorraine (Heather Graham), sparking a welcome new romance.
An underrated master class in Favreau's filmography is his notable reteaming with his pal and "Swingers" co-star/fellow movie idol Vince Vaughn – about an L.A. man (Favreau) tied to a low-rent mobster whose life further devolves into chaos when called to do a job in NYC. Complicating things is his grating buddy (Vaughn) that he unwisely allows to tag along. It's sort of a darker "Swingers" and perhaps even a more affecting film – starring, directed, produced and written by the ever-ambitious filmmaker.
Comedy Drama / 2001 / R
A comedy about two hapless best friends who are plunged headlong into the world of organized crime. When Bobby (Jon Favreau) and Ricky (Vince Vaughn) accept a high-stakes delivery, the clueless duo is flown first-class to New York and thrust into the moneyed world of Ruiz (Sean Combs), a downtown Manhattan gangster. In a matter of hours, Ricky's delusions of grandeur unravel the entire operation and put both his and Bobby's lives in jeopardy.
Long before Marvel and "The Mandalorian," the industry first took wide notice of Favreau's skill as a director with this breakout hit for star Will Ferrell as the adopted "Elf." While we've heard rumor that Ferrell and his co-star/director didn't always see eye to eye (maybe that's why no "Elf 2"?), there's no arguing with the results. Favreau once again proves that he makes funny movies that have some genuine layers – or at the least, he knows how to showcase a comic superstar who can connect. It's a talent that would come in handy a few years later.
Comedy / 2003
Buddy (Will Ferrell) was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa's elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn't fit in, the adult Buddy travels to New York, in full elf uniform, in search of his real father. As it happens, this is Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a cynical businessman. After a DNA test proves this, Walter reluctantly attempts to start a relationship with the childlike Buddy with increasingly chaotic results.
With the advent of MCU filmmaking, and its eventual domination of worldwide cinema, director Favreau proves to be a key player just as important as Robert Downey Jr. The first mega Marvel superhero movie isn't just a showcase for Downey Jr.'s supreme confidence and razor-sharp wit. It's also a genuinely great film, with Favreau showing that he could handle an ever-ballooning budget and produce a lighter superhero movie (as opposed to the DC stuff) that's high on action and entertainment value.
Action / 2008 / PG-13
A billionaire industrialist and genius inventor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), is conducting weapons tests overseas, but terrorists kidnap him to force him to build a devastating weapon. Instead, he builds an armored suit and upends his captors. Returning to America, Stark refines the suit and uses it to combat crime and terrorism.
We'll admit, "Couples Retreat" isn't that great. But it is a fun chance to see Favreau and Vaughn re-teamed in a disposable comedy that finds them, their buddies and all their better halves attending a couples retreat on a tropical resort. The scenery is lovely, and co-stars Jason Bateman and Faizon Love, along with Kristin Davis, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell and Kali Hawk are all fine comic accomplices. Plus, the script by Favreau and others provides an amusing scenario to see the '90s swingers all grown up.
Comedy / 2009
Four couples, all friends, descend on a tropical island resort. Though one husband and wife are there to work on their marriage, the others just want to enjoy some fun in the sun. They soon find, however, that paradise comes at a price: Participation in couples therapy sessions is mandatory. What started out as a cut-rate vacation turns into an examination of the common problems many face.
Iron Man 2
To a degree, director/exec producer/onscreen Happy Hogan's sequel makes good on the first "Iron Man's" promise. It's bigger. It's bawdier. But is it better? We don't think so. Still, it keeps the "Iron Man" and "Avengers" series rolling on the tracks and introduces Scarlett Johansson as primary badass Black Widow. The threads of the plot (something to do with the military and contractors coming for Tony Starks technology) don't always add up, but if you're looking for Downey Jr. doing what Downey Jr. does best – this one does just fine.
Iron Man 2
Action / 2010 / PG-13
With the world now aware that he is Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces pressure from all sides to share his technology with the military. He is reluctant to divulge the secrets of his armored suit, fearing the information will fall into the wrong hands. With Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle) by his side, Tony must forge new alliances and confront a powerful new enemy.
The real feather in Favreau's cap is this amazing (and amazingly small-scale) tale about an A-list LA chef who gets tired of it all, decides to give it up, and buys a food truck to travel the country with his son making Cuban cuisine. Another film written/directed/produced/starring Favreau, it's a winning recipe that's funny, dramatic and emotionally engaging…and features no sci-fi/action sequences whatsoever.
Comedy Drama / 2014 / R
After a controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman) pushes him too far, chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) quits his position at a prestigious Los Angeles restaurant. As he tries to figure out what his next step should be, he finds himself in Miami. Carl joins forces with his ex-wife (Sofía Vergara), best friend (John Leguizamo) and son (Emjay Anthony) to launch a food-truck business, and the venture provides a chance to reignite his passion for cooking -- as well as his zest for life and love.
The Jungle Book
The first of Favreau's live-action/CGI Disney films (the other being the less celebrated yet still box-office victorious "Lion King" update), "The Jungle Book" is a fantastic modern version of the 1967 animated film everyone knows and loves. It even has a few new touches and characters, including Fred, the pygmy hog that Favreau voices.
The Jungle Book
Children / 2016 / PG
Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) must leave the only home he's ever known when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) unleashes his mighty roar. Guided by a no-nonsense panther (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear (Bill Murray), the young boy meets an array of jungle animals, including a slithery python and a smooth-talking ape. Along the way, Mowgli learns valuable life lessons as his epic journey of self-discovery leads to fun and adventure.
Capping our list is 2019's final "Avengers" film, executive produced and featuring Favreau in a small but critical appearance as Happy, promising to support and usher in the new generation. He was there at the beginning with "Iron Man," so it's only fitting that he's here to lend a hand at the end.
Action / 2019 / PG-13
Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers -- Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner -- must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos -- the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.