Zade Rosenthal, Marvel Entertainment
Robert Downey Jr., left, and director/executive producer Jon Favreau on the set of "Iron Man." <BR>

Thank you, Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios, for making the right decision. Again.

Believe it or not, there was a possibility that the two companies' joint venture "Iron Man 2" would not feature the participation of director Jon Favreau.

The 41-year-old actor-turned-filmmaker ("Elf," "Zathura") is a huge comic-book fan, and the first "Iron Man" was obviously a labor of love for him. And he was the one who was insistent about casting Robert Downey Jr. as the title character.

As good as the movie was — it's still one of the two best big-summer movies so far, in my opinion — it wouldn't have been as terrific if it hadn't featured the ingratiating Downey. (By the way, the other really great summer movie was Disney-Pixar's "WALL*E." But I digress. ... )

At any rate, several entertainment media outlets are reporting that Favreau has either signed or will be signed to direct "Iron Man 2." That's good news.

But there is one bit of bad news. The indecision and uncertainties about the filmmaker might hold up production on the movie, which has been already scheduled for a May 2010 release.

Apparently, Favreau and Downey, who has also signed to reprise his role in the sequel, have both told the studios they don't want it to be a "rush job." But I'm sure any wait will be worth it, as long as they're involved.

And while I'm at it, Marvel and Paramount should also sign Favreau immediately to direct the "Avengers" movie project that would team Iron Man, the Hulk and other Marvel Comics heroes. That film was hinted at in both the "Iron Man" and "Hulk" features.

WHERE'S DOWNEY? EVERYWHERE, APPARENTLY.

This year promises to be the biggest and best of Downey's career. In addition to "Iron Man," he also appeared in the teen comedy "Charlie Bartlett" and is being buzzed about for his performance in the upcoming Ben Stiller comedy "Tropic Thunder."

And he's just signed a deal to star as author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective character Sherlock Holmes in an as-yet-untitled mystery film to be directed by Guy Ritchie ("Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels").

This is the second Holmes movie project that's been announced in as many weeks. "Borat" star Sacha Baron Cohen will play the investigator, and Will Ferrell his physician sidekick, Dr. John Watson, in a less-serious take on the characters.

That comedy is being produced by Judd Apatow, of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up" fame. And its script was written by Etan Cohen, who also wrote "Tropic Thunder."

I LEFT ONE OUT!

In last week's column I critiqued the trailers and advertisements for several upcoming movies. At the time I hadn't seen the trailer for the upcoming James Bond adventure, "Quantum of Solace," though.

I do have some misgivings about the film's title — even though it is based on one of Ian Fleming's Bond tales, which goes by that name. But I have no misgivings about the film's action-packed trailer.

Based on that, this appears to be a worthwhile follow-up to the 2006 hit "Casino Royale."


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com