‘Iron Man 3’ and Robert Downey Jr. start Shane Black era

Aug. 18, 2011 | 2:28 p.m.
iron man Iron Man 3 and Robert Downey Jr. start Shane Black era

"Iron Man" (Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures)

Robert Downey Jr. has finished most of the heavy lifting needed for his role in “The Avengers” and last week, over lunch at his office in Venice, the two-time Oscar nominee felt ready to talk about a different heroic project: “Iron Man 3.”

“My sense of it is that we need to leave it all on the field — whatever that means in the end,” Downey said of the May 2013 film. “You can pick several different points of departure for that.”

Speaking of departures, director Jon Favreau won’t be back for the third installment of a franchise that propelled his career to new heights — even as it established upstart Marvel Studios as a serious Hollywood player and signaled the popcorn redemption of Downey after years of addiction and legal entanglements. “Iron Man 2,” however, was an especially grueling shoot and by the end of it the relationship between the director and the star was pretty frosty. Downey and Favreau are pals again now and even appeared on stage together earlier this summer in Hollywood for a warm and funny reunion.

“Iron Man 2” brought in $624 million in worldwide box office but the reviews weren’t as strong as they were on the first film and Downey says that, watching the sequel now, he sees a film in which a lot of things worked but plenty of other things didn’t. The next movie will be written and directed by Shane Black, who became a brand name in Hollywood in the 1980s for writing action films such as “Lethal Weapon,” “Lethal Weapon 2” and “The Last Boy Scout.” Black made his directorial debut in 2005 with “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” the deliriously over-the-top dark comedy that starred Downey as a petty criminal who is whisked off to the West Coast for a Tinseltown adventure that promises fame but delivers a body count.

robert downey jr and iron man Iron Man 3 and Robert Downey Jr. start Shane Black era

Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. on the set of "Iron Man 2." (Marvel Entertainment)

It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was praised for its sharp wit and over-the-top moments that nodded both to film noir convention and Hollywood culture, but Downey said the meta-charms of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” won’t be revisited by the Marvel superhero film — unless of course they are.

“The thing about Shane is that it will be anything but one of those moments,” Downey said, “unless we come up with something that is so cheeky and character-driven and perfect that it has to be in the movie.”

shane black Iron Man 3 and Robert Downey Jr. start Shane Black era

Shane Black in his home in Hancock Park in 2005. (Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

Black began his Hollywood life as a prodigy among blockbuster screenwriters — he famously wrote “Lethal Weapon” in six weeks at age 23 — but by the mid-’90s the scene lost much of its appeal after watching his scripts for “The Last Action Hero” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight” reach the screen with too many revisions and too little spirit. The budget on “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” was a tiny $15 million, but to Downey that number reveals more about Black’s capabilities as a director than it does his limitations.

“He’s more than the sum of his parts and he’s also kind of been a sleeper for a long time,” Downey said. “We’re not talking much about [the script] right now because Shane is off writing  and we talked before that and when we are talking again the talking is going to be over pretty quick [because we’re on the same page]. It’s kind of like we’re fighting on the same side and at the same time we’re circling each other, so it’s all great. It should be great.”

Favreau, meanwhile, is coming off the mixed-bag performance of “Cowboys & Aliens” and moving on to “Magic Kingdom” for Disney. The filmmaker  has said that he is eager to see someone else sit down to play in Tony Stark’s toy box, and on stage at the Hero Complex Film Festival he made it clear that he approves of the Black choice by winkingly saying he’s ready to reprise his on-screen role in the franchise as Stark’s pal, Happy Hogan, if a suitable salary can be negotiated.

Downey was still chuckling about that gag last week and pleased to hear the sentiment that runs beneath it. “Bringing in Shane Black to write and direct ‘Iron Man 3’ to me is basically the only transition from Favreau to a ‘next thing’ that Favreau and the audience and Marvel and I could ever actually sign off on,” Downy said. With a grin he added:  “The fun thing is going to be getting Happy in the movie.”

— Geoff Boucher


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18 Responses to ‘Iron Man 3’ and Robert Downey Jr. start Shane Black era

  1. Dr Film says:

    The actors in the big conventional industry movies get the bigger paychecks and fame prospects . But the fact is money does not buy brilliant film making . Thats why we now see small and next to know budget movies exploding with unexpected larger styles and massive heeps of creativity in directing , writing and and sometimes even acting . The reality is that directing a film is the highest level part of film making . Secondary aspects are acting and fx . While writing is extremely important and second only to directing .All other details fall into the third level and final tweeks are the fourth stage . Movie making can be a great journey to spiritually test and bring out ones greatest skills . To tell a story in a multi-dimensional package [ visually , with sound , lighting , angles , acting , sets & styles ] that are carefully directed to a specific design . An experience more than anything else . This is the relm of the true Indie film Makers . With lower budgets but higher levels { and in some cases much higher levels } of brilliant creative artistic skills .

    • Dr. Spelling says:

      I guess English is your second language?

    • Vincent Hannah says:

      Directing is second to Writing? Without the writer, there is nothing to direct. A director is interpreting the script.

      Moron much?

    • Matt says:

      I try not to be so critical in film making. In fact, good projects with major stars HAVE turned out well (Ocean's Eleven). While there are people that are really critical of movies, the plain truth is that a lot of us just want to see a great adventure. Each existing actor for Avengers has established his role well . . I am looking forward to the interaction on screen. I am expecting to see High Adventure and Epic Fights. Personally would I judge a film based upon the experience it left me with. If I don't take a lot of pre-existing expectations, then I can just sit and enjoy the show.

  2. mani gupta says:

    i love this movie.

  3. Carla Börjesson says:

    I hope they include the following characters in future sequels:
    Bethany Cabe, Force, Rumiko Fujikawa, Guardsman, Maria Hill, Iron Man 2020

    I look forward to seeing the following villains in future sequels:
    Arsenal, Beetle (Abner Jenkins), Blizzard (Donnie Gill), Cobalt Man, Controller, Dreadknight, Edwin Cord, Ezekiel Stane, Fin Fang Foom, Firebrand, Firepower, Ghost, Grey Gargoyle, Hypnotia, Justine Hammer, Iron Patriot, Kearson DeWitt, Killer Shrike, Living Laser, Madame Masque, Mandarin, Mauler, Melter, MODOK, Morgan Stark/Gregory Stark, Raiders, Spymaster, Sunset Bain, Sunturion, Temugin, Titanium Man, Unicorn, Ultimo, Wong-Chu

  4. Matt says:

    Shane Black is (mostly) a genius. He writes the best dialogue outside a Tarantino movie ("Talking monkey…? Yes….") and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is one of the best, edgiest comedies of the 00s. They say Iron Man brought Downey Jr back to the game, but Kiss Kiss was the kick-off..

    I'm personally excited to see Iron Man 3 written and directed by Shane Black. If he pulls it off, it will mean two 90s dope-fiends get to redeem themselves in the eyes of Holy-wood and that's ok with me. :)

    • Thor2Rocks says:

      Word to the wise, RDJ redeemed himself a long time ago, with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

      • joanne quick says:

        Bring on Iron Man 3. Stop messing around. Get to work. The world needs more of these movies. Inspirational, good guys win, good humor and great entertainment.


    IRON MAN TRANSFOMERS YES good recovery downey wish the best ab

  6. Avinash says:

    Iron Man 1 & 2 is superb & Tony Stark is Fantastic job in this movie Plz Don't change the actor……….

  7. Mohan kumar says:

    What ever may be the movie is awesome.good job and my regards to the crew.

    This compells the respective countries to think on making Iron man in reality to safeguard the nation and to join hands with scientists & engineers to turn this comic concept to reality.

    God bless the country.

  8. Mohan kumar says:

    Its a wonderful concept to safe guard the nation.

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