When Shane Black officially signed up to helm Iron Man 3, it was generally assumed he would be scripting Tony Stark’s third cinematic venture as well. The Lethal Weapon franchise scriber confirmed as much just over three weeks ago, revealing his plans to structure the threequel more along the lines of a Tom Clancy thriller.

Now there’s word that Black will be very much involved in the development of the Iron Man 3 screenplay, but Drew Pearce – who penned the current draft of the script for Marvel’s Runaways movie – will be the fellow who actually writes it.

Deadline confirmed the news about Pearce, who fittingly has a background in writing about superheroes prone to drinking problems, being the creator of the UK comedy series No Heroics. While Marvel put the Runaways adaptation on indefinite hold last fall, it seems the comic book studio was impressed enough with Pearce’s efforts on the super-powered adolescent project to give him additional work. So that bodes well for both Runaways and the third Iron Man flick.

This move on Marvel’s part may come as a bit of a disappointment for fans who are familiar with Black’s approach to screenwriting and were excited to see the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang helmer give his own unique spin on the Iron Man character. Iron Man 3 presumably still aims to have an overall different and more grounded feel than director Jon Favreau’s first two entries in the franchise.

Recent reports pegged Marvel as being “not happy with the direction ‘Iron Man 2′ took,” and there have long been rumors about behind the scenes drama between Favreau and studio heads on the second Iron Man pic. Many of the thematic issues that plagued Iron Man 2 are believed to have been (ironically enough) the result of studio interference, so the recruitment of Pearce – a screenwriter who’s already proven himself in Marvel’s eye – to pen Iron Man 3 instead of Black looks less appealing in that light.

Black’s sole previous directorial effort was Kiss Kiss with (appropriately) Robert Downey Jr. – and although that was an overall entertaining and darkly witty flick, it was by no stretch of the imagination a big-budget undertaking. So the decision to hire Black solely as director and not as a screenwriter for Iron Man 3 becomes all the more curious from that perspective as well.

There’s a simple explanation for all that, though: Marvel wants a filmmaker to inject their own creative flavor into Iron Man 3, but not so much that it ends up lacking the mainstream appeal that the studio is hoping for. So a compromise that sees Pearce write the movie, with Black heavily influencing the design of the project, will hopefully satisfy both those desires.

All post-Avengers releases – Iron Man 3 included – are being developed as “self-contained, single-character stories” and Tony Stark will purportedly be battling “real world villains” in his next film as well. With that in mind, what are you expecting/hoping to see go down in the threequel?

Iron Man 3 is scheduled for theatrical release on May 3rd, 2013.

Source: Deadline