When Jon Favreau revealed on Twitter that he would not be back to direct the third Iron Man film I had a more measured response than most people. Sure, I was greatly disappointed and somewhat concerned about how the eventual film would turn out, but I was also cautiously optimistic that Marvel Studios would find someone competent to take over. They have yet to make a bad choice in director for any of their shared universe films, so I reserved my judgment until the choice was made this time. When it was announced that Shane Black was signed to direct I was just a little bit flabbergasted, but that lasted only as long as it took elation to register in my brain. My first question was, can he write the script, too, please? All indications seem to point to yes and that is a huge plus for the next film adventure for the Armored Avenger. I even think it’s possible that Black could make an Iron Man film that tops the previous two. Lest you think I’m crazy or wonder just who this Shane Black dude is, I give you seven reasons why Mr. Black is likely to astonish us in 2013.
1) Lethal Weapon
The first Lethal Weapon film both broke the action film mold and lovingly reassembled it into a new type of action film. Black’s script took what could otherwise be an over the top, cartoon story and gave us a meaty story full of the requisite action, flawed heroes and morally reprehensible villains. Sure, Black didn’t create the “buddy cop” genre, but he certainly made it cooler and more three-dimensional. What does this have to do with the Iron Man film franchise? Well, Black has proven that he can give us a fine visual feast without sacrificing story or strong characters. And it just might mean that number three will have a strong “buddy hero” element between Tony Stark and James Rhodes.
2) Monster Squad
You might think that this 1987 family film has little relevance to a high-octane super-hero franchise and you’d be right, mostly. However, Black’s script was able to take very familiar monsters and give them a new an interesting shine while remaining true to the core of the characters. This means that any villain(s) he chooses to go against Tony Stark will likely get the same reverential-yet-new treatment. Considering the love that Black shows for Darcula, et al. in Monster Squad I eagerly look forward to seeing what he does with, say, The Mandarin.
3) Lethal Weapon 2
This second outing for Riggs and Murtaugh proved that Shane Black knows how to write a sequel that furthers the story and characters without retreading what has come before. While someone else wrote the final screenplay, you can tell what parts are Black and which are not. Not only that, but being excluded from the lesser sequels in the franchise surely lets Black know how further installments can spin out of control. This all bodes well for him jumping on to a third film. Exoect the finished film to not only track with what’s already happened, but to also logically further the story and our heroes.
4) The Last Boy Scout
This may be the weakest film on Shane Black’s resume, but it is still above many other action films. Black once again proves that he can almost effortlessly write a buddy film with a solid story and engaging bad guys. If nothing else it shows that terrific writers can still have a slumped, but as Black’s next three scripts prove, a great writer will not let a slump ruin their creativity. Again, this just means good things for Iron Man 3.
5) Last Action Hero
This may be Black’s most under appreciated film and I may be the only person that loves it, but it proves what a clever writer he is. Specifically, Black shows that he knows the difference between ludicrous action films with little merit and the type of action films he writes (see Lethal Weapon above). Black is well aware of how easy it is to push a fun movie into the realms of ridiculousness and I think that is a great sensibility to have taking the reigns of a comic book film franchise.
6) The Long Kiss Goodnight
This film has been highly praised since its release and rightfully so. Black shows how adeptly he can write strong female characters, which means Pepper Potts won’t get short-shrift under his watch. Also, Black wrote for Samuel L. Jackson with this one, so should Nick Fury return he should be handled in a manner consistent with his previous appearances.
7) Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
It doesn’t hurt that the last film Shane Black did was his best to date. Not only did he script this darkly comedic film, but it was his directorial debut. As if that wasn’t enough, Tony Stark himself, Robert Downey, Jr., stars. Black brings the funny, but in a dark, sometimes subversive way while giving Downey lots to do. His camera work and highly entertaining script for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang are in a style and tone that is very fitting for the Iron Man franchise. The added bonus is that Black is already a known element to Downey so they should be able to work together in crafting a superb film.
As a writer and a director, Shane Black is the perfect choice to shepherd Iron Man 3 to the big screen and possibly make it the best of the Marvel films. I hope I’ve given you reason to agree with me. Sound off in the comments below about Shane Black and your hopes for the the third solo theatrical outing for ol’ Shellhead!