Shane Black: The Road to Iron Man 3

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Last weekend Iron Man 3 opened in theaters to the tune of about $175 million domestically. That's the second highest such opening of all time, only currently bested by its own predecessor - The Avengers.

That’s rather impressive when you consider how poorly received Iron Man 2 was. So why has this installment squashed the $128 million that Iron Man 2 put up its first weekend, you know, besides being a better movie and all? Well the obvious answer would be The Avengers lead-in. It’s Marvel’s first movie since the massive team up last summer and residual excitement is still palpable. The fanbase has grown and people just want to see more of this universe. There is another reason too though, the content. This movie looked new and fresh, an actual change of pace from the first two chapters, and that is thanks to the franchise’s new writer and director Shane Black.

The new Iron Man has a different feel from the first two, but is still quite familiar. That may be due the obvious influences of his former movies shining though…

kisskiss bangbang Shane Black: The Road to Iron Man 3

The first, and most evident of these examples is the last movie Black wrote and directed, which also happened to star RDJ, 2005′s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Both films open to a monologue from Downey, who sounds flustered and is forced to restart his narration at an earlier point in the story than originally intended. Problem here is, it was done better back in 2005. For all the hype surrounding this movie, the truth is it’s not as good as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and the constant callbacks and nods to it throughout IM3 only serve to further point this out. This blatantly similar narration isn’t the only similarity here though. Downey’s character suffers a great loss, lies to a little kid, gets captured, teams up with with a seemingly more capable partner (who happens to be part of a minority group) and ultimately gets saved by the very woman he set out to rescue.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s Christmas? That’s a Shane Black staple. It’s Christmas time in Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and of course – Iron Man 3. Now there is nothing wrong with any of this, these are all popular Hollywood tropes, but the similarities can become a distraction for people familiar with Black’s resume, and those aren’t the only of his staples present here.

last boy scout and long kiss goodnight Shane Black: The Road to Iron Man 3

At one point Stark finds himself captured and under guard by two men, this leads to Tony explaining to the henchmen how he is going to take them out,  resulting in a well done and humorous scene. Just as humorous as it was in The Last Boy Scout when Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) did it. Only instead of sitting in a chair like Hallenbeck, he is hanging from his arms…kind of like Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) in Lethal Weapon. Iron Man 3 also features a crooked politician who get his comeuppance, much like in The Last Boyscout and Lethal Weapon 2. Then there is the kid sidekick. This is where a lot of the movie’s best laughs came from, and our hero receives live saving help from the kid, only to then have to rescue him, ala The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero, and to a lesser extent The Long Kiss Goodnight. There is also The Monster Squad, in which the children forgo an adult lead, save everyone themselves, and kick Wolfman in the nards. 

The one almost constant element in Black’s movie, and the one that is such a big part of the Iron Man mythology, is Tony’s alcoholism. Major characters in almost all of his movies are shown as drunks, but in this installment, ol’ Shellhead has anxiety attacks rather than drunken blackouts. This is a result of Disney wanting to make the movie more family friendly, despite that fact that everyone keeps claiming that “comics are for kids” and that’s right out of the comics…  Anyway, this just seems to make the choice of Black a bit strange. Sure he wrote The Monster Squad, but he certainly isn’t known for family fair.
IM128 Shane Black: The Road to Iron Man 3

That in mind, you have to ask yourself why they choose a director who hadn’t made a major movie on the better part of a decade to undertake such an pressure filled job. Did they really just want a departure in tone from what Jon Favreau did with the first 2 films? If so, they got it as Black put his stamp all over this one. Overall, Iron Man 3 was an entertaining flick (Our esteemed editor’s Review can be read here), but this particular writer is a huge fan of Shane Black, so could perhaps be biased.

My Favorite Shane Black Movies

1. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
2. The Last Boy Scout
3. Lethal Weapon
4. The Monster Squad
5. The Long Kiss Goodnight
6. Iron Man 3
7. Last Action Hero
8. Lethal Weapon 2

What is your ranking?

Fun Fact: Shane Black played ‘Hawkins’ in Predator…

Picture Credits: Marvel, Warner Brothers, TriStar Pictures, New Line Cinema.

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