Skip to main content

Jon Favreau Has More Under His Belt Than Star Wars

Shots from Zathura: A Space Adventure, The Jungle Book, The Avengers, The Chef Show, and Iron Man

Jon Favreau is an American actor and filmmaker who has become most well-known for his work on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Associating him with the MCU is to be expected, considering he was the director and executive producer of Iron Man, the film largely credited with kickstarting the sprawling MCU. After his work on Iron Man, he remained deeply ingrained in the MCU, directing and producing Iron Man 2, starring as Happy Hogan in the Iron Man and Spider-Man trilogies, and serving as producer on each Avengers film.

However, Favreau’s incredible work started even before he began collaborating with the MCU. He launched his filmmaking career by directing one of the most beloved Christmas classics of all time, as well as directing a worthy spin-off to the film Jumanji. Even after getting involved with the MCU, he worked with Disney on some of their live-action adaptions of beloved classic animated films and also made a name for himself outside of the studio by contributing to an indie film, a cooking show, and a dinosaur docuseries. Here are the ten best TV shows and films that Favreau has written, directed, or produced (or all three) ranked from good to the very best.

10. Zathura: A Space Adventure

Josh Hutcherson as Walter, Jonah Bobo as Danny, and Dax Shepard as Astronaut in Zathura: A Space Adventure

If the Favreau-directed Zathura: A Space Adventure doesn’t stir up your 90s kid nostalgia, I don’t know what will. The film is a spinoff of Jumanji, but its premiere date of 2005 means most individuals born in the 90s will have vague recollections of it. While nostalgia adds an extra bit of sweetness to the film today, it also stood well on its own back in 2005. It is an imaginative and enjoyable “space adventure” that explores the struggles of siblinghood as two brothers seek to finish a game that has the power to affect real life. While Zathura: A Space Adventure bears many similarities to Jumanji and wasn’t a particularly groundbreaking film, it was fun, light-hearted, and creative enough to become a family classic.

9. Chef

Jon Favreau as Carl Casper and Emjay Anthony as Percy in Chef
(Open Road Films)

Favreau showed off his range of skills in the filmmaking industry with Chef as he directed, wrote, produced, and starred in the 2014 dramedy. He decided to embark on the project after becoming disillusioned with big-budget films that lacked depth and decided to return to his roots making low-budget films with thoughtful premises. The film follows a chef, Casper Carl (Favreau), who loses his passion for cooking while working for a prestigious restaurant that stifles creativity, but unexpectedly rediscovers it by operating a food truck with his son. Chef is a noticeably lower-budget, lightweight film, but it hits the exact point that Favreau was going for that sometimes less is more. Whatever Chef lacks in grandeur, it makes up for in heart, spirit, and depth.

8. The Avengers

Hawkeye, Thor, Black Widow, Cap, Hulk, and Iron Man in The Avengers

When Iron Man first premiered in 2008, a post-credit scene teased the Avengers initiative. However, not every viewer realized that the MCU was laying the groundwork for the future and that it would come to fruition just five short years later. In 2013, The Avengers served as the culmination of the MCU’s Phase 1 films and brought all of its characters together in a grand finale that saw the Avengers assemble onscreen in live-action for the first time to take down Loki (Tom Hiddleston). As executive producer of The Avengers, Favreua made history in the superhero genre by featuring the first major superhero crossover event in a live-action film. It wasn’t a perfect film, but it demonstrated that there was really no limit to what modern superhero films could do.

7. Prehistoric Planet

Tyrannosaurus Rex swimming in Prehistoric Planet
(Apple TV+)

Favreau served as the executive producer of Apple TV+’s docuseries Prehistoric Planet. Presented by beloved natural historian Sir David Attenborough, the series takes a realistic deep dive into prehistoric times and explores the world of dinosaurs. Using cutting-edge technology and advanced CGI, the docuseries is so detailed and realistic that it really makes one forget that dinosaurs are extinct. Prehistoric Planet is educational with beautiful visuals and a premise that celebrates the most compelling and mysterious species from the past.

6. The Jungle Book

Neel Sethi as Mowgli and Bill Murray as Baloo in The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book premiered in 2016 and is a live-action/CGI adaption of Disney’s 1967 animated film of the same name. The film was both directed and produced by Favreau and has grown to become one of Disney’s most successful live-action remakes. The Jungle Book garnered over $966 million at the box office and received high critical acclaim. In addition to telling a beloved classic tale, the adaption elevated the timeless tale with breathtaking visuals that pushed the limits of CGI and brought the story to life in a way that previous adaptions couldn’t.

5. The Chef Show

Jon Favreau and Roy Choi cooking in The Chef Show

The Chef Show is a cooking show starring Favreau (who also produced and directed the series) and Korean-American chef Roy Choi. Favreau was inspired to create the series after working with Choi in preparation for Chef. The travelogue series sees Favreau and Choi travel around the world to explore different recipes, flavors, and cooking techniques. They also run into several of Favreau’s friends along the way, including some of The Avengers cast. The show finds two fantastic hosts in Favreau and Choi, whose chemistry and passion for cooking make the series extremely enjoyable and watchable for nearly any viewer, regardless of experience or interest in cooking.

4. Avengers: Endgame

Captain America (Chris Evans), Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), and the Avengers in Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame premiered in 2019 and saw Favreau serve as one of the executive producers. The film follows the Avengers as they struggle to reverse Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) decimation of half of the population, which took place five years ago. Avengers: Endgame was truly an amazing feat on the part of the MCU. It served as the culmination of the 20+ films that came before it and managed to pull off the impressive finale beautifully. Yes, it’s a bit overstuffed and long, but the quality is still top-notch and the film never loses of sense of grandeur.

3. Iron Man

Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron Man
(Paramount Pictures)

Iron Man premiered in 2008 and was directed and executive produced by Favreau. Like the other MCU installments that made this list, Iron Man stands out largely for how historical and groundbreaking a film it was. Even back then, viewers watching the film knew it was the start of something much bigger. Meanwhile, the film’s stunning visuals, Robert Downey, Jr.’s masterful portrayal of Tony Stark, and Favreau’s impeccable directing made Iron Man one of the best MCU films of all time and one that has held up surprisingly well over time.

2. Elf

Will Ferrell as Buddy in New York in Elf
(New Line Cinema)

Elf premiered in 2003 and marked Favreau’s second time directing a feature-length film. The film follows Buddy (Will Ferrell), a human who grew up in the North Pole believing he was an elf. When he discovers his true identity, he sets out to find his businessman father, Walter Hobbs (James Caan), in New York City. Twenty years later, Elf remains one of the great Christmas films of all time. It is funny and lighthearted, with masterful performances from Ferrell and Caan and huge doses of magic and Christmas spirit. Elf is just the kind of rare hilarious and good-natured film that leave viewers with a smile on their face no matter how old they are or how many times they’ve seen it.

1. The Mandalorian

Pedro Pascal as Din Djarin holding Grogu and firing a blaster in The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian premiered in 2019 and credits Favreau as a writer, executive producer, and creator. The series follows Mandalorian bounty hunter Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) after he decides to protect a child-like creature he was initially supposed to kill, and the two embark on a journey across the galaxy. It’s quite a simple story, but it has managed to captivate viewers of all ages regardless of whether they’re superfans or newcomers to the franchise. Its most impressive feat is that it offered one of the best Star Wars projects since the original trilogy. The Mandalorian is an ambitious and heartfelt science-fiction series that pushed the limits of audiences’ imaginations and helped fans rediscover the magic of Star Wars. It also gave the franchise the boost and renewed interest it needed to continue delving into the small screen with further masterpieces like Andor.

(featured image: Sony / Disney / Netflix / Paramount Pictures)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Rachel Ulatowski is a Freelance Writer, blogger, and aspiring author. As a Freelancer Writer she hopes to give readers the same comfort and enjoyment that she finds in all things nerdy and noteworthy, as a blogger she enjoys snarking on YouTubers and reality stars, and as a future novelist she hopes to raise awareness for child abuse through literature.