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Iron Man 3 - Shane Black interview

Iron Man 3

Interview by Rob Carnevale

SHANE Black talks about some of the challenges of bringing Iron Man 3 to the big screen in the wake of The Avengers and why the most important thing was story, regardless of scale.

He also discusses the possibility of a sequel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and more. He was speaking at a UK press conference.

Q. This feels almost like a sequel to two films [Iron Man and Avengers]. Did you bear that in mind when you came on board? Or did you start from a blank canvas?
Shane Black: I think when you do anything that has number three after it, you have to just ask yourself ‘how can we pretend that this was supposed to happen anyway? What’s the story left to tell that makes it seem in retrospect like it was just waiting to get itself told’. And I think finding the things that you liked about Iron Man that hadn’t been mined yet and trying to include them in such a way… it’s weird. This is not a trilogy. There’s another movie called The Avengers that sits in the middle.

So, it’s almost like a trilogy and then us. It was weird. He saves the world, he perfects his technology and Iron Man has sort of emerged as this global superhero, so then we have this fourth movie in a way. So, still looking for the thing that hasn’t been explored yet and trying to find something different. And Jon Favreau was just a god damn prince in terms of helping. I asked him: “Jon, how did you do it on Iron Man 1 What was your thinking? How do I stay true to the legacy of what you have established and make a different tone to The Avengers but one that’s consistent with what you like?” Here’s a guy who at every stage could have come on board and been, like, disrespectful and said: “I’m not in this anymore.” Instead he was the most gracious, helpful, wonderful participant in this process. So, he helped me.

Q. Did you rehearse the reveal sequence heavily?
Shane Black: These are fabulously talented people who have the ability to structure a scene with improv. They knew the scene backwards and forwards and they performed it and they performed it in such a loose, wonderful way that it makes it seem like it’s just occurring in the moment. They’re just dancing and thinking on their feet. But we covered it just like every other scene and we shot it just like every other scene; it’s probably the truest to the script of most any scene in there and it’s one of the best because of the talents of the people involved. At the end of the shooting say, the crew spontaneously applauded after that scene.

Q. Did you have any trepidation about jumping on board a movie this size? And as a follow-up, is there any chance of a return to the characters you brought us in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang?
Shane Black: Taking the second question first, it would be nice wouldn’t it? But no because it just didn’t make the coffers overflow. No one was paying to see Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. But the size of this one doesn’t matter. If you make an action film, I think we all know what that’s supposed to be but it’s just quantifying it. So, it’s the extent to which we can access what we already know. Action doesn’t change… if you’re doing a car chase or you’re doing science fiction. So, more important than that is the ability to generate a story that works because I think that’s very important for me.

Movies look great nowadays for the most part and movies sound great… you don’t hear someone say: “I just went to see the new big budget movie and God it sounded shitty!” Technically, things are perfect. But the stories aren’t always engaging and they’re not always perfect and so as long as I had the chance to come on board and sort of dictate or try to give flesh to a story that makes sense and works and I have people on board to collaborate with like Robert Downey I know we’re going to make a shape, we’re going to make a stew, that can be fun. I don’t care how much it costs or what scale it’s at. The story is what’s important; the spectacle is simply a part of telling that story. It’s not the other way around… the tail doesn’t wag the dog. So, the bigness of the picture, to me, is the least interesting thing about it and the innovation and the talent behind it, and the funniness of it, and all that stuff, is what I’m most proud of. I think all the people here did a marvellous job, so thank you.

Read our review of Iron Man 3

Read our interview with Robert Downey Jr