I have to admit – I’m slightly perplexed by exactly how much love the movie version of Iron Man got. Make no mistake, it’s a fun and frothy blockbuster, but I was surprised by exactly how bowled over people were, when Jon Favreau has never struck me as the most dynamic or exciting director (although I am currently keen to see how his upcoming movie Cowboys and Aliens turns out), and the original Iron Man was very much one of those superhero blockbusters that’s an effective origin story with an extra act of clunky action awkwardly welded on to the end.
I wasn’t entirely surprised when Iron Man 2 turned out to be a damp squib more concerned with trailing the upcoming 2012 Avengers project than actually telling a good story, giving us a rather lazy version of ‘more of the same’ instead of trying to deliver something new. However, there have been various behind-the-scenes rumblings that the Iron Man films have not exactly been smooth productions, with Marvel being rather hands-on and also being in the habit of starting to shoot without a fixed script. As a result, Jon Favreau has headed off to pastures new, and Marvel are looking at new directors to step into the chair for the obviously-going-to-happen Iron Man 3.
Amazingly, according to Deadline, we’re actually getting very close to Shane Black signing to direct the third Iron Man film. Black was one of the biggest screenwriters in Hollywood in the late Eighties, netting massive amounts of money for scripts like Lethal Weapon (and also achieving the rather bizarre notoriety of being the first soldier to be killed by the titular alien in John McTiernan’s macho classic Predator). His whip-smart style fell out of favour in the late Nineties, but he’s been making a slow but steady comeback for the last few years. His directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a flawed but wonderful noir comedy that features some dazzlingly brilliant dialogue, a hilarious turn from Val Kilmer as a gay private eye, and also – in a nice piece of synchronicity – gave Robert Downey Jr one of his best roles prior to embarking on major stardom in iron Man.
The fact that Black may be getting a gig this major is excellent news – the only thing that’s concerning is that, according to the Deadline article, there’s a question mark over whether or not Black is going to write the script. It’s interesting that Marvel are going for someone like Black, but he strikes me as the kind of writer who’s best when he’s let off the leash – it’d be extremely weird to hire him, and then impose the kind of creative control that throttled the life out of Iron Man 2. Marvel are still riding on the success of Iron Man, and the anticipation for The Avengers, but that isn’t going to last forever, and both Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger are going to have to be extremely good if the plan’s going to work. I hope Black gets the chance to make Iron Man 3 – but I also hope that Marvel are sensible enough to let him subvert and change the formula, rather than forcing him to make yet another tale of Tony Stark being a bit of an arse, realising the error of his ways, and then fighting another bloke in a big metal suit…