When it was announced that Jon Favreau would not be returning to direct Iron Man 3, many fans were concerned that the franchise could be headed for a considerable drop in quality. The persistent rumor that Favreau and Marvel Studios had been at odds with each other over the script of Iron Man 2 was simply more fuel for the fire.
As the search for a new Iron Man 3 director began, it seemed clear that Marvel was interested in finding a replacement with two important qualities: 1) A cheaper price tag and 2) Someone who wouldn't object to the studio's hands-on approach during production.
So it came as a bit of a surprise when Marvel announced that Shane Black will direct Iron Man 3. Black is best known as the screenwriter of films like Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and The Long Kiss Goodnight. He also wrote and directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - a wildly entertaining film that unfortunately failed to find much of an audience. So although Iron Man 3 could be his ticket to more high profile projects, Black doesn't seem like the sort of filmmaker who'd deal all that well with studio interference.
Only time will tell if the same problems that dogged Favreau will become a burden for Black as well, but it sounds like there were definitely some lessons learned from Iron Man 2. Black was a guest at the Omaha Film Festival this past weekend where he spoke briefly about the development of Iron Man 3. A reader of Ain't It Cool News sent in some highlights from the discussion.
For starters, Black confirms that he'll be writing the script for Iron Man 3 and that Robert Downey Jr. will also have a great deal of input as well - and it sounds like they'll be shaking things up a little bit:
He is scheduled to meet with Robert Downey Jr. this week when he returns to L.A. Downey will be contributing to the story and Shane will be writing it in addition to directing.
The studio was not happy with the direction Iron Man 2 took. Iron Man 3 will not be another "two men in iron suits fighting each other" film. Instead, it will be more like a Tom Clancy-thriller, with Iron Man fighting real world villians.
I have to be honest - I think it's amusing that the studio claims they're unhappy with Iron Man 2 when by most accounts, it was their meddling that lead to some of the film's more convoluted and unnecessary moments. It also seems a little bit like they're jumping from one extreme to the other here.
This makes it sound like Black might be taking a grittier and more realistic approach to the Iron Man character. While I imagine that, for fans, this could turn out to be a controversial decision, if you're familiar with Black's work then you know the film will definitely still have a sense of humor. However, it sounds like we can expect a very different tone than the one established in Favreau's films.
Many of the criticisms leveled against Iron Man 2 centered around the decision to include so much set-up for The Avengers - but it doesn't sound like there's going to be quite as much winking at the audience in Iron Man 3:
Iron Man 3 will be made after The Avengers and will not feature any other heroes from the Marvel Universe. Marvel is only doing crossover characters to lead up to The Avengers, and once that film is released, the plan is to go back to self-contained single-character stories.
Again, this seems like overkill to me. The first Iron Man and even The Incredible Hulk did a decent job of telling focused stories while hinting at a larger universe. Given Marvel's long-term plans for their film properties, it seems unlikely that The Avengers will indeed be the final word on cross-pollinating their characters.
I've been a fan of Black's work for many years and I'm excited to see how he tackles Iron Man 3. There's obviously still a long way to go, but it's interesting to hear him elaborate on his plans for the film. I think it's encouraging that Marvel appears to have taken a more objective look at Iron Man 2 - I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that they give Black the freedom to deliver his vision with very few compromises.
Either way, it sounds like Iron Man 3 could be a very different film than its predecessors. We'll find out when it hits theaters on May 3, 2013.