Meet the new ‘Iron Man 2’ characters

On the last day of postproduction on " Iron Man 2,” director Jon Favreau looked like a broken man. “You don’t want to shake hands — I’m sick,” said the filmmaker whose superhero blockbuster just might be the movie that finishes as the highest-grossing release of 2010. But that possibility was far from Favreau’s mind.

“I feel like I’m finishing this one the way El Cid finished the war, strapped onto his horse by his men and sent into battle dead.”

One reason the battleground was so rough on Favreau is the secret weapon that made the first “Iron Man” such a nimble and memorable movie — namely Robert Downey Jr. as the titular hero and Favreau’s intense commitment to capture his singular spark on the screen. Like the first film, “Iron Man 2" was essentially rewritten over the entire filming process. The large set pieces, which required months of visual-effects work, were locked in and became the solid brick scenes of the film, but every bit of mortar between them was available for improvisation. Downey would try a dozen approaches and follow the one that worked. That meant a relentless need to patch, rework and rewire entire chunks of the film.

Actor-screenwriter Justin Theroux was brought in to follow behind every day’s new direction and put it on paper in a way that served logic and drama. He ended up nearly bedridden from back pain associated with the stress of the job.

Jeff Bridges, who was in the first film, said that style of filmmaking was maddening for him. Then he had an ephipany: “I started thinking of it as a student film. ‘We’re just making a very expensive student film.’ And then I was fine.”

New cast member Don Cheadle didn’t get that memo: “I was losing my mind on this movie.” The only person that seemed to keep up with all the madness?

That would be Downey. “Isn’t this fun?” he said last year during a late-night shoot. “I love this game.”

To help keep up with the ever-changing “Iron Man 2,” here’s a look at some of the new faces this time around.