What to make of “Iron Man 3,” the third film in its own series and the seventh film in Marvel’s larger “Avengers” franchise?
When Shane Black was hired to direct “Iron Man 3,” the assumption was that he would also write or contribute to the screenplay. After all, he made his name as a screenwriter, while he has only directed one movie (although it was the very, very good “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”). But, for reasons that are not entirely clear, Black will not be writing the movie’s screenplay. Drew Pearce, who created the UK show “No Heroics” and wrote an adaptation of “Runaways” for Marvel, has landed that gig. This isn’t a big deal, because clearly Black will have input on the screenplay. Similarly, the film might employ some improvisation (albeit less than the franchise’s prior films), allowing Black and Robert Downey Jr. to extemporize while on set. So this isn’t really news of any sort, is it? Still, Shane Black is directing “Iron Man 3,” and it’s nice to remember that.
Last week, Heat Vision reported that “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” writer/director Shane Black was being considered to take over “Iron Man 3.” Deadline reports today that Black is in final negotiations to take over the film, which would be terrific news. Of course, they do so without remotely crediting Heat Vision for having the news first (just a snide aside that “news leaked out that Marvel was meeting with several directors including Shane [and] fanboys approved”). Regardless, Black makes this movie much, much more interesting.
Remember that time there were “Iron Man” movies starring Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow as his plucky love interest? And they would feature a rotating group of Oscar-nominated actors as his sidekicks and villains? Good times. The franchise was the talk of the town in 2008, when the first film was a big hit and very enjoyable, but things took a turn for the worse last year when the second installment was (A) not so good and (B) not so profitable (it cost a lot more than the original but made slightly less domestically).
Anyway, everyone has forgotten about “Iron Man,” because Marvel just used the first film to rev up the “Avengers” engine. But! A third film in the series is still due out in May 2013, so clearly somebody, somewhere at Disney remembered Downey’s contract includes a third solo film. Hang on, I’m forgetting what this post is even about in the first place. Wait, nevermind, back on track: “Iron Man 3” has a release date but no director after Jon Favreau quit/got fired/resigned/retired to move to the country. So who’s going to direct what is, ostensibly, a high-profile and sure-to-be-successful superhero movie kickstarting the summer of 2013?
One contender mentioned by Heat Vision: Shane Black. The Shane Black, who rose to fame in the 1980s and 1990s writing “Lethal Weapon” movies, “Last Action Hero” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight” (and “Monster Squad,” can’t forget “Monster Squad”). More importantly (to me, anyway), he has one directorial credit on his resume: 2005’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” which he wrote and directed and also happened to star The Robert Downey Jr.
I am wholeheartedly, entirely in favor of this decision. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” may have quietly arrived and departed the scene in 2005, but the movie was terrific, and Black’s self-referential, sarcastic and self-mocking script was a perfect fit for Downey’s screen presence. Remember, at that time Downey was still that guy with all of the drug arrests behind him; this movie helped rehabilitate his image, and was part of the career rejuvenation track he took with “Good Night, and Good Luck” that led him to “Zodiac” and, obviously, the first “Iron Man.”
Even better, Black is actually a writer, which bodes really well for this film. One of the (reported) issues of “Iron Man 2” was that Favreau went forward without a locked screenplay, much as they had done on the first “Iron Man.” While it worked out well the first time around, it didn’t jibe with the quickened production schedule nor other requirements (i.e. “Avengers” setup) foisted upon the sequel. Black could actually work with Downey on a screenplay to turn out a workable story, and hopefully give Downey’s Tony Stark a fitting (solo) swan song.