The genre of superhero movies is about to get a lot more interesting, with Iron Man 3 leading the charge. After Marvel set a high watermark with this past summer’s The Avengers, the stakes have never been higher. How fitting, then, that the franchise that got the studio’s movie universe started should be trusted to keep the momentum rolling.
It may be an odd time to change directors, but Jon Favreau has made way for writer/director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), and the first full Iron Man 3 trailer proved the decision might very well have been a good one. Leading man Robert Downey Jr. recently opened up on just how impressed he already is with Black’s direction, along with the performances being turned in by his fellow cast members.
Speaking during the The Cinefamily telethon (via CBM), Downey Jr. spoke to Black’s screenwriting history as paving the way for buddy cop/action films to be taken seriously, but he’s no stranger to the Iron Man series either. Apparently. it was Black who Favreau and Downey Jr. went to when problems arose on the set of the first film:
“I adore him. I’ve been a fan of Shane Black since I saw ‘Lethal Weapon.’ When we were doing the first Iron Man, Jon Favreau and I used to call up Shane Black. We had two lifeline calls; one was to J.J. Abrams, which was about the third act. And for the other call, we went to Shane’s house.
“For instance, in the ‘Iron Man’ scene where Tony Stark comes back from captivity and calls a press conference, and then asked everybody to sit down, the speech Stark gives all came from Shane Black. So to get him to do ‘Iron Man 3,’ it has just been this awesome experience and one of my favorite working experiences. ‘Iron Man 3’ is going to be a very, very bold genre film, from the storytelling.”
The extended footage in the Japanese version of the IM3 trailer led us to draw a few new conclusions, particularly about Pepper being kidnapped, and the staggering destruction of Stark’s coastal mansion taking place in the first act of the film, not at its climax. Those assumptions are clearly reinforced by Downey Jr.’s description of a shocking plot and missing missus.
When people think of Downey Jr. and Black, their past collaboration on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang must be brought up. One of the actor’s most underrated performances and Black’s directorial debut, the unconventional detective story was overflowing with quirk. That same unique approach applied to the superhero formula won’t just offer something new, but for the man sporting the armor, promises big things for Stark’s saga going forward:
“Shane Black really knows the superhero genre, but I think the main thing is that he’s always looking at complexities within complexities [and so on]. And he always likes it when a film kind of stops for a reason you can’t understand, and then picks up and goes in a direction you’ve never imagined. Usually when you have a straight-forward narrative, if at act 1, 2 or 3, ‘There’s Tony, Tony’s in trouble, where’s Pepper, Tony wins.’ By the time we were doing the 2nd one, I was like ‘where’s Pepper.’ Shane is just a genius!”
Aside from the individual plot details and story beats, it seems Black’s previous claims that he wasn’t necessarily trying to outdo the scope of The Avengers, but that Iron Man 3 was all “about trying to get as much into this as we can” were more than just lip service.
As a testament to how much fans will get out of Iron Man 3, Downey didn’t even mention those plot lines in his praise for the cast. Sir Ben Kingsley won’t shock anyone by swinging for the fences, but it’s former-director Jon Favreau’s turn as Happy Hogan that is most impressing the leading man:
“Happy has an amazing arc in this movie. In fact, probably the best two bits of acting in the movie, so far from what I can tell…which sucks because I’m in every frame, are Favreau as Happy Hogan…I can’t give away much, but it’s ridiculous. And also Sir Ben Kingsley. Kingsley is amazing. And a lot of that had to do with the way that Shane crafted the role for Sir Ben. I think that people are going to be not [totally] surprised, but they’re going to be just reinvested in what a brilliant actor Kingsley is.”
There’s been no shortage of praise for Sir Ben Kingsley’s role as the Mandarin, with Marvel head Kevin Feige claiming he received more overwhelming praise from the crew than any other actor in Marvel’s ‘Phase One.’ And if the story driving the film as a whole is as strong as it seems, then Marvel’s first dose of ‘Phase Two’ has the talent and direction needed for a strong start.
How do you feel about Shane Black’s apparent changes to the typical superhero formula? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Iron Man 3 is directed by Shane Black, based on 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, Xueqi Wang 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, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1st, 2015 and Ant-Man on November 6th, 2015.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.