The anticipation for 'Iron Man 2' is so insane, things were already getting heated among the masses waiting to see footage at Comic-Con. And that was almost a year ago ... and in the VIP line!

It's hard to believe that just a few short years ago, comic book fans were skeptical about seeing Tony Stark on the big screen; the Los Angeles Times even dubbed Iron Man the B-team of Marvel comic heroes. All it took was previewing a little bit of 'Iron Man' footage at the fan convention to convince people they'd done the franchise proud and had exceeded expectations. Judging by the reactions to 'Iron Man 2' trailers, photos and footage, this one will not disappoint either, no matter how much expectations have increased.

Moviefone visited the set of 'Iron Man 2' at Raleigh Studios in Manhattan Beach back in June. We got to watch them filming an important scene in Tony Stark's journey -- inspecting a model of his father's 1974 Stark Expo to find the key to something powerful, with clues hidden in the layout -- and we got to chat with star Robert Downey Jr., director Jon Favreau and Marvel President of Production Kevin Feige. The anticipation for 'Iron Man 2' is so insane, things were already getting heated among the masses waiting to see footage at Comic-Con. And that was almost a year ago ... and in the VIP line!

It's hard to believe that just a few short years ago, comic book fans were skeptical about seeing Tony Stark on the big screen; the Los Angeles Times even dubbed Iron Man the B-team of Marvel comic heroes. All it took was previewing a little bit of 'Iron Man' footage at the fan convention to convince people they'd done the franchise proud and had exceeded expectations. Judging by the reactions to 'Iron Man 2' trailers, photos and footage, this one will not disappoint either, no matter how much expectations have increased.

Moviefone visited the set of 'Iron Man 2' at Raleigh Studios in Manhattan Beach back in June. We got to watch them filming an important scene in Tony Stark's journey -- inspecting a model of his father's 1974 Stark Expo to find the key to something powerful, with clues hidden in the layout -- and we got to chat with star Robert Downey Jr., director Jon Favreau and Marvel President of Production Kevin Feige.

And since Favreau and Feige are both extraordinarily generous with information and savvy about the benefits of Internet buzz, we also got the very first sneak peek at Scarlett Johansson, rehearsing an action-heavy Black Widow scene in full costume, long before it was revealed to anyone else. One word: Yowza.

Here's our full report on what we heard and saw, including scoop on the sequel's storyline and details on new castmembers -- from Johansson, Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell, to Samuel L. Jackson and Don Cheadle.

A Darker 'Iron Man'?
Now that Tony Stark has told the world that he is Iron Man, will this sequel be darker? Feige says: "I don't know that we're taking a turn for darker. One of the major themes of the movie is, 'No Man Is An Island.' Here's a guy who says, 'I'm going to run the business myself, I'm going to take control of all the technology' -- this idea of a promising, better, hopeful, optimistic future. But he's a Marvel superhero, so it takes about six months for everything to go to hell once he's done that."

You Better Work!
"The workshop, as you've probably figured out, is a little different than last time," Favreau explains. "In the middle of ['Iron Man'], he was doing some work with holographs. That was just something we did as an afterthought, and we animated into it, and we thought it was pretty cool. That was so cool that we figured he now created an entire workshop of that -- you can see there's not a lot of screens around. Everything is done virtually."

Guys and Their Gadgets
With the shiny floors we needed booties to even tiptoe on, Tony's workshop is sleek, gorgeous and kitted out with some amazing toys. Despite all the technology upgrades, the robot assistants are both back. (Yay!) We also saw some amazing modes of transportation, including three vintage motorcycles and Jon Favreau's own vintage car, tricked out with flames and parked next to the piece de resistance, the Audi R8.

Enter the Fury
"It's not a secret that Sam Jackson is back," Feige says. "So a character that popped up for I think 15 seconds at the end credits of the first film now will appear. Not for a whole lot longer than that, but slightly longer than that in this movie. You sort of will learn more of what his role is in the world and what his relationship is to Tony. Because Tony didn't really have any idea who he was -- he doesn't care much who he is either in this film -- but we'll learn some surprising facts about Nick [Fury] and his relation to Stark."

Who's Your Daddy?
While watching Tony dissect the model of Stark Expo ("a combination Worlds Fare/Mac World event," Feige explains), we had to know: Will we be seeing Tony's dearly departed father, Howard Stark, at all? "Quite a bit. We have John Slattery playing him," Favreau teases. "He's somebody who's passed away by the time the movie begins, but he's definitely a presence as Robert delves into his past and explores the relationship with his dad. He's definitely got daddy issues on some level."

Suit Up!
A new addition to Tony's workshop is a wall of armor with all four variations of the suit up to this point. So how's the new suit working out? "From my perspective, we did everything we could to make it lighter, easier, more flexible and we've shot more in it," Favreau says. "But he's the guy who has to strap into the thing." Downey chimes in: "It's fine. You're gonna like it when you see me and Happy Hogan slugging it out, that's all I gotta say." Hmmm ...

Speaking of Happy Hogan ...
Will we see more of Favreau onscreen? "Yeah, I talked to Gwyneth [Paltrow] and I tried to explain to her that we sleep together and get married in the comics," Favreau jokes. "She says she doesn't really care what the comics say. [Laughs] I think people would burn down the theaters if Gwyneth ended up with anybody but Robert in the movie. But I did give myself a little bit more to do this time."

Critical Support
What about the other new players? "Ivan Vanko -- that's Mickey Rourke -- is the son of Anton Vanko, a famous Russian scientist in our world," Favreau says. "He's our shadow figure. He's our dark character. We also have Justin Hammer, who's an American, played by Sam Rockwell. So we have a bit of a mélange of characters that come together, that are different combinations of elements from the books. But we also like to spin it against expectations sometimes. I'm extremely happy with the group we have -- we just have tremendous actors that bring a spontaneous nature to the film. Downey really branded the first one with his style, tone, personality and spontaneity ... I tried to get a cast around him that would be in sync with his way of working."

Scene Stealers
With so many new costars, who has Downey worked with the most? "So far, probably Scarlett [Johansson]. By the time we're done, probably Don [Cheadle]," Downey dishes. "I think I've worked with [Mickey Rourke] one day. We're about to come into a big sequence that we have together -- our initial meeting, which doesn't end too favorably." So how does he feel about having so many sparring partners? "This cast is crazy! I actually got some more days off this time, which is great."

S.H.I.E.L.D.
Will we be seeing more of S.H.I.E.L.D. in this movie? "You'll see slightly more," Feige admits. "I think S.H.I.E.L.D. ultimately had a presence throughout the first film in Coulson [played by Clark Gregg], even if he was just standing around asking an interviewer for a meeting. There will be more presence this time around -- Coulson is back and Fury is back."

This Means War
Everyone knows that Don Cheadle has taken over the part of Tony's pal Rhodey, a role originated by Terrence Howard. But how will we see Rhodey step into the role of War Machine? "War Machine had a lot of different relationships with Iron Man," Favreau explains. "We looked through all those storylines, and figured out how it fits within the parameters of what we established in the first film."

Demon in a Bottle
So will this movie dive into the comic book's Demon in a Bottle storyline, where Tony becomes an alcoholic? "He deals with pressure in lots of different ways," Feige says. "I'm not sure he drinks anymore in this movie than he does in the first one. About midway through the film, he hits rock bottom -- rock bottom is not in an alleyway with alcohol outside a dumpster in this movie. But he sort of loses control." Favreau adds: "We do it our own way." To which Downey replies: "He's out of control."

And ... Action!
"I won't be shy about saying, I think our Iron monger battle at the end [of 'Iron Man'] was very cool, for the most part, but if anything was lacking in the first movie, it was kind of a kick-ass fight. We're gonna step it up a little bit," Feige admits. We can't wait to see that.

Best. Freebie. Ever.
Favreau presented us with possibly the coolest movie freebie ever -- his custom-made Challenge Coin. "As we met a lot of [military] personnel, they'd give out Challenge Coins. It's a coin they have made up for the unit, and they slip it to you in a handshake. It's a sign of respect. I had collected about a dozen different unit coins when Robert and I screened the movie in Korea on a military base there. They'd give us a unit coin to thank us for screening the film, and we were always empty-handed. So I made up Challenge Coins to give to the troops that I met along the way."

Avenging the Cameo
Any nod to the ultimate 'Avengers' movies in 'Iron Man 2'? "There'll certainly be Easter eggs, both obvious and no so obvious ... and some which probably you won't even know were there until three years from now when you've seen 'The Avengers' movie. And I think that's cool stuff," says Feige. "But it's not gonna be a parade of cameos. I think that ruins it. We're really going out of our way to make sure that all of these movies stand on their own, whether you have any idea they connect to other movies or not."