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The official start of the summer 2013 movie season also marks the beginning of the next phase of the Marvel cinematic universe with Iron Man 3.
Although it’s a safe bet that Robert Downey Jr. will have a role to play in The Avengers franchise for years to come, the star’s contract expires with Iron Man 3. And with the “three-quel” representing potentially the last solo film for Robert Downey Jr., Marvel, President Kevin Feige and director Shane Black are pulling out all the stops.
Disney and Marvel Studios have published Q&A transcripts for Kevin Feige, President of Production and a producer on all Marvel Studios films, and stars Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow, where they talk everything from new and returning cast members and taking the next step in their character journeys.
- Iron Man 3 is the first of its kind, a “sequel to two movies.”
- Feige on Robert Downey Jr.: “He doesn’t come in and say, ‘I’m the biggest star in the world.’ He comes in and shows you why he’s the biggest star in the world.”
- Feige on the success of the franchise: “It is incredibly gratifying that people have responded to what comic fans have known for decades.”
- Feige on starting Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: “But what was important to us with Iron Man 3, the first film in our new Phase 2, is that it stands apart and stands on its own.”
- “Taking Tony Stark from The Avengers into such a personal solo individual journey was always the goal… to show that as interesting as they are altogether, they’re [The Avengers] equally interesting on their solo journeys.”
Ahead, we’ve pulled select quotes from Downey, Feige and Paltrow, who talk about the movie and their roles in detail. There are plot details that may be spoiled for you, so be warned..
How has Tony Stark changed since the events of The Avengers now that he’s witnessed aliens and technology beyond even his comprehension as a genius scientist? Feige explains:
“Not only did he encounter all of those crazy characters with hammers and capes and shields and gamma-radiated strength, but a portal to another world opened above his head. Tony Stark is a very scientifically minded guy, who thought he was at the cutting edge of science and suddenly learned in those brief moments at the end of The Avengers, that there is an infinite amount that he doesn’t know.
I think that made him feel small in a certain way and I think even encountering those other Super Heroes in The Avengers made him feel like he was not the most powerful person in the world, which I think Tony likes to feel like he is. He may be the smartest person in the world, but not necessarily the most powerful. So when we meet him at the beginning of Iron Man 3, he’s using the suit as a shell almost. It is a shell to shield himself from all of this new information, this new influx of reality that is crashing around him. At the same time, as tends to happen in good movies, another villain arises. And suddenly, when he’s sort of at a state where he’d much rather stay in his lab and work on his suits, something happens that forces him to get out of his house, to get out of his lab and even in some cases, get out of the suit, to confront this new evil. “
What are moviegoers going to see from Stark this time around, especially considering that it represents his fourth starring role as the Armored Avenger?
“We like painting Tony into a corner and taking away all of his toys and all of the immense wealth and assets and leave him with just his mind and see how he can get out of that situation. You’ve seen in the trailers that there’s an attack on Tony’s house. So by the end of the first act of Iron Man 3, his house is gone. His technology is gone. All he has is a barely functioning, prototype suit that, soon after he escapes from the house that’s destroyed, is not functioning at all. So Tony finds himself in the middle of the United States of America, in Rose Hill, Tennessee, completely out of his element. A guy who lives in Malibu and goes to Monaco and gallivants in Manhattan in the middle of Rose Hill, Tennessee, with a suit not working, doing an investigation about the villain known as the Mandarin, to try to figure out where he is. Tony believes there are clues here that are going to lead him to find where the Mandarin is, so he drags the broken suit into a shed that he finds and takes an axe and opens it up. It turns out that he is in the little workshop of this young boy named Harley.
It is a lot of fun to see Tony out of his element, without any of his toys, with just his mind, to see how he can overcome and there are villains that come and attack him in this sequence, with no suit at all to grab. I won’t give away whether he is successful or not, but you can probably guess and it’s that ingenuity that’s fun. How is he going to get out of that cave with a box of scraps again? And that’s something that we really didn’t see in Iron Man 2. We didn’t see it in “The Avengers” either and it is something that is wholly unique to Iron Man 3.”
Writer Drew Pearce was hired by Marvel Studios to help write Runaways for director Peter Sollett (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist), a film initially planned for release alongside The Avengers in 2012. It was canceled and after being disappointed by the news, Feige met with him and it led to Pearce joining the Iron Man 3 creative team, eventually befriending Black after some “hesitancy.”
“Of his own accord he wrote about a 25-page treatment and outline, sort of an essay of ideas, about where he saw the character going. While we didn’t go with everything he had in that initial document, there was so much there and so much passion, that we decided we wanted him to come on board and team him up with the writer/director we were hiring, Shane Black.”
In Iron Man 3, Pepper and Tony are living together. Feige reiterates that Pepper runs Stark Industries while Stark does his own thing, focusing on his obsession with building new and more advanced suits and being a hero.
“So they are living together and they are in a committed relationship, which again is somewhat unique to the superhero genre. That is one of the reasons we really wanted to do it. But when you live with Tony Stark there are always issues and there are always concerns and one of the concerns at the beginning of this film is the fact that he is not sleeping. He’s spending all of his time tinkering and building suits. And Tony’s been doing nothing but building suits and suits and suits and suits. It’s an obsession and, as Pepper calls it, his distraction. It’s clearly affecting their relationship.”
As fans following the development of Iron Man 3 with a close eye since the beginning, even dating back to the Q&A at Marvel’s Comic-Con panel where it was first hinted, Pepper has a very important role to play, beyond getting into a more serious relationship with Stark and running his company. Feige already went on record saying this is Pepper’s movie and as the toys and leaked armored descriptions revealed, Pepper will suit up in her own armor in Iron Man 3. Paltrow is not shy about expressing how important that was for her character arc:
“There were talks of Pepper getting in the suit at the end of Iron Man 2, but Marvel wasn’t ready to do it yet. I think in the comic books she does eventually get into the suit and she has her own suit, and I know Robert was really interested in having Pepper do more in this movie, and it was also a factor in me coming back and getting to do things that were a little bit more fun and different and a little bit more adventurous. It would’ve still been nice, but it would’ve been very much the same thing just to be buttoned-up Pepper, and in this movie there’s a whole different experience of her.”
There you have it. If you missed our own unofficial Iron Man 3 armor guide, Pepper will wear a live-action incarnation of the RESCUE armor. For details on what it may look like, click here. And for details on what may be Pepper’s first experience wearing the armor, read our preview from checking out 20 minutes of footage at the studio.
Wearing the suit on set wasn’t an issue for Paltrow, much like the latest versions are much lighter and easier for Robert Downey Jr. to put on as well. She does admit to increasing her regular workout for the film’s final act, which Feige describes as the biggest action sequence Marvel Studios has done to date.
“I’m a person who works out anyway, but I felt like for this movie that I needed to be in excellent shape. So a couple of weeks before I came back, I really hit it super hard and I tried to watch what I ate, which I’m not so good at doing. But I was very focused because I really wanted the whole end sequence to be unexpected and I thought if people saw me like that, fighting and in really good shape, that it would be an extra bonus for the movie to have.
As for the primary antagonist for Iron Man 3, a character who’s been a long time coming, updating Mandarin for the Marvel cinematic universe and making him Tony Stark’s greatest threat yet was something we can attribute to Shane Black’s creativity:
“Then Shane Black had an idea of making him somebody whose background is unknown; we don’t know where he’s from at first, but he seems to be some kind of military officer that has gone off the reservation. He is starting to pull all of this iconography and symbolism from other cultures to his own ends to use them as symbols to pervert the symbol of the United States. He utilizes the moniker of the Mandarin and robes with dragons on them and uses South American sort of guerrilla tactics to create this aura of fear of his terror organization. The Mandarin is sort of a very frightening, modern-day terrorist who has taken terror motifs from all over the world to use to his own ends. It was a very cool and relevant and scary idea. And the best thing about the Mandarin, always in the comics, has been how relentless he was against Tony.
When you see this film, something has happened in act one and the Mandarin is deemed responsible. On national television, Tony says, ‘I’m gonna come after you, Mandarin. I’m gonna find you.’ And within a day, the Mandarin has decimated Tony’s house. Obadiah Stane didn’t do that, Whiplash didn’t do that, Loki didn’t do that. The Mandarin does it in the first act of Iron Man 3. That is very, very serious and very big.”
During the Iron Man 3 panel at Comic-Con, one of the scenes presented was carried by Jon Favreau, who returns as Happy Hogan after directing Iron Man 1 & 2. He’s still involved, and by all accounts was instrumental, not only as a supporting actor but as a producer with creative input and advice for Shane Black.
“Jon was very, very gracious in the way that he helped Shane [Black]. Shane would ask him a question about either working with Robert [Downey Jr.] or setting up the character, or getting the best out of any of the cast that had been in the prior movies and even technical things.
It was really a very special thing to have Jon on set and his part in this movie is in a way what activates Tony into his adventure in this movie. The heart at the core of this movie is not only Pepper, it is not only the little boy Harley, but it is Happy Hogan. Jon steals, I think, almost every scene he’s in Iron Man 3. It’s hilarious and he really gave his all. “
Details and spoilers aside, the best news is that we don’t know what we think we do. For fans who think they’ve figured out the plot of Iron Man 3 from the trailers, leaks and toys, Feige credits writer-director Shane Black for a story that will continue to surprise viewers along an unexpected journey.
“It delves into Tony Stark’s character in a great, quirky, unexpected way and one of the signatures of a Shane Black film, which Iron Man 3 has in spades, is that when you think the movie is going to go left, it suddenly goes right. That was fun to do. It’s scary sometimes but fun to do. You can probably only do it on a part three, where the audience has expectations. The audience thinks they know the way you’re going to go with something and then you totally turn it on its head and spin it. It was exciting and it was a way to not fall into the ‘threequelitis’ trap. “
“I can honestly say that they should expect to be continually surprised. This is intentionally a mislead into a redirect into a turnaround into a bait-and-switch into a red herring. But I think that in some ways that this is the most emotionally satisfying and the most technically and action-wise and superhero-wise entertaining of the three. It’s fun.”
Iron Man 3 is directed by Shane Black based off of his and Drew Pearce’s screenplay, and stars Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Stephanie Szostak, Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall, William Sadler, James Badge Dale and the voice of Paul Bettany.
Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015 and Ant-Man on November 6, 2015.
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Rescue Armor art from cover of Invincible Iron Man #29 (Women of Marvel Variant)