Marvel overloaded the masses with marketing for The Avengers, but the reason that tactic paid off (beyond opening weekend) is because Joss Whedon’s superhero blockbuster possesses the zest and spirit of gusto comic book adventures. Now the ball’s in Shane Black’s court, as he must likewise disprove skepticism – from those who claim superhero titles are just hype and fan-pandering – with Iron Man 3.

Of course, that doesn’t mean no anticipation-building in the meantime. Star Robert Downey Jr. is doing his part to help, now that principal photography has wrapped on schedule (following a short period of shooting in China). The actor hit a handful of familiar talking points concerning the movie’s tone and villain, while addressing the conclusion of filming on the Iron Man threequel.

Downey spoke recently with the UK magazine Nuts (WARNING: NSFW Link!), where the actor talked about performing his own stunts whenever possible and how that contributed to his ankle injury temporarily halting production on Iron Man 3. That segued into a discussion of the project’s more extravagant set pieces and dangerous nature in general, as teased in the initial Iron Man 3 trailer.

To quote Downey:

“I think Shane’s gone for a dark feel in this movie. It’s a lot grittier and goes back to its comic-book roots. It’s shaped into a really special movie – and Shane [has] been instrument in that.”

The term “grittier” inevitably seems to circle the conversation back to “the Chris Nolan influence,” when it concerns superhero movies. However, as we saw with this past summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man, its meaning is flexible; after all, the existential dread of Nolan’s Dark Knight film trilogy is worlds apart from Marc Webb’s modern update of the Peter Parker mythos. Iron Man 3 is shaping up more serious relative to previous installments (ie. similar to its “Extremis” comic story influence), but that doesn’t mean it’s ‘a serious movie’ in a general meaning of the phrase.

Case in point: this image

Black’s film has the advantage of a personal revenge storyline, when it comes to delivering a more complicated and nuanced portrait of the Tony Stark character and his world. That goes double for bringing on definitive IM baddie Mandarin as the antagonist, with both Downey and Marvel head Kevin Feige showering praise on Ben Kingsley’s performance as the villain:

“I always think there’s something more terrifying about a villain who’s a genius, as opposed to just relying on strength or ability. We all know what a fantastic actor Ben Kingsley is, and he pulls off the evil genius with real terrifying results.”

Iron Man 2 antagonist Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) was likewise a genius, but he ended up spending a good chunk of the sequel as Justin Hammer’s (treacherous) lapdog; as opposed to, presenting a constant threat to Tony and the world, as Mandarin seemingly does in Black’s film. That aspect alone should be a refreshing spin on prior installments – which culminated with a battle between Stark and an armored opponent who presented a less-than-legitimate threat.

Lastly, to make this a full meal, Marvel has released a new Iron Man 3 image to tie into the Winter Holiday season:

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Stark’s not exactly in a Winter Wonderland here, is he? Moving on…

Iron Man 3 is directed by Shane Black based off a screenplay he co-wrote with Drew Pearce. It stars Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall, William Sadler, James Badge Dale, Wang Xueqi and the voice of Paul Bettany.

Iron Man 3 releases May 3rd, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8th, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4th, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1st, 2014The Avengers 2 on May 1st, 2015 and Ant-Man on November 6th, 2015.

Source: Nuts UK [via Comic Book Movie], Marvel