Whether it’s “Lethal Weapon”, “The Last Boy Scout”, or “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, writer cum director Shane Black always tries to spruce up his projects with a little bit of Yuletide cheer. It’s the same with “Iron Man 3”, his latest, in which Christmas serves as the backdrop to a captivating battle between our hero and the Mandarin.
“Christmas sort of bands together and cements the story so you feel like there’s a common unity among all the people in it”, Black says of his choice to usually incorporate the holiday into his scripts and films. “It’s just something that you constantly notice in the background; it’d be the same feeling if you were doing it on the eve of the SuperBowl – there’d just be ads on the TV all the time, or there’d be players on the street or something. Plus Christmas is just such a wonderful contrast to what else is going on on screen.”
Black worked with Robert Downey Jr on “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, the film the Oscar Nominated actor did shortly before landing the ‘Iron Man’ gig a few years ago.
“Initially, the first thing you think is ‘Well, of course'”, Black says, recollecting his thoughts on when he first heard Downey had been cast as Tony Stark. “It’s one of those ‘why didn’t I think of that!?’ situations. I think there’s certain actors where you hire them and you get what you paid for. Not with Robert; with him, you never know what you’re getting – but he always tends to elevate the material, and that’s what’s great about him.
“Robert is the kind of actor that challenges you in a way that’s not antagonistic, it’s exciting. He pushes you to a level you didn’t know you could push to. I’ve always said, ‘It’s probably better to hang around people you admire, than people who admire you.’ It keeps you on your toes, it keeps things fresh and hanging around Robert keeps me on my toes. He is a guy I have to constantly work to keep up with, work to understand and appreciate, and it’s a very challenging and invigorating relationship where I feel he brings out my best.”
For his “Iron Man”, Marvel and Black decided it was time to “break down Tony Stark and put him through the ringer” story wise.
“There’s parts of this movie, where Tony Stark isn’t in his Iron Man suit, where he almost has to be James Bond for a little bit. That’s a lot of fun, too – where you see him do some action stuff, not as Iron Man but as Tony. It’s also good to see him have to stand back up and reclaim what’s his by the end of the movie, but that journey and that crucible is what’s going to be fun because we’re going to see [Tony], within the course of just a few days, put through the paces. Robert will bring that to life.”
Black’s not going for a straight-up comic book movie here but “the structure of a thriller, the bigness of a comic-book action movie, coupled with the reality and the sophisticated sort of chill of a villain that’s frightening in today’s world.”