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Iron Man 3

Black & Feige Bring Action to Iron Man 3

The director and producer of Marvel's 'Iron Man 3' talk about developing the film's action sequences & story!

By Marc Strom

Creating a sequel always presents a unique set of challenges, and crafting the third entry in a series can prove even more difficult at times. So when Producer Kevin Feige started looking towards Marvel’s “Iron Man 3,” he knew he had to shift the tone of the series in order to push Tony Stark to places he hadn’t been before.

Joined by director Shane Black, Feige delved into what makes “Iron Man 3” unique and how they built the Armored Avenger’s most dangerous adventure yet, hitting theaters and IMAX 3D May 3. And just in case you missed it, check out the second full trailer for the film now!

Robert Downey, Jr. & director Shane Black on set of "Iron Man 3"

“The most recent, best part three was ‘Toy Story 3,’” comments Feige. “That’s tonally different than the other two. We were well underway on ‘Iron Man 3’ by the time we saw that movie, but it is to be admired. Because it goes to places you don’t necessarily expect, and frankly you only could have gotten to that place in a part three. That’s the advantage of a franchise that has more than two parts, you know the characters so well that you feel for them and you’re willing to go--we’re betting, at least--on a much more off-the-beaten-path journey with them than you have been before. ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’ in a way liberated us in the development process because we knew we couldn’t go bigger than [that, and] we didn’t want to go bigger than Avengers. What are you going to do? Crack the Earth in two and Iron Man is going to have to put it back together? No, that’s not what [‘Iron Man 3’] is about.”

The Armored Avenger flies in for a rescue in "Iron Man 3"

While the story of the next Iron Man film is much more personal for Tony Stark, fans can still expect the same action and adventure they’ve come to expect from a Marvel Studios film.

“I think what we’ve got now are hopefully three really memorable sequences, but they’ve also got to be organic,” adds director Shane Black. “That’s what I hate about action movies [that have] character [scene], stop, action scene. Ok, start the character again. It’s got to be one thing. But it’s great working with Downey. Downey won’t just do an action scene. Every action scene he does is a character piece.”

In order to create those action sequences, Black had to think very carefully about the precise way in which the action would develop.

Tony's new suit of armor in "Iron Man 3"

“The challenge [to me], together with these really remarkable animators and artists as a resource, [was] to not just have scenes where Iron Man flies in, shoots a bolt, and the guy flies backwards,” continues Black. “How do you start to tone the action so that it becomes intricate and you don’t remember all of it, you just finish the scene and go wow. Then, if you go back you find little pieces in the middle that you forgot were there, but they are seen as a toning mechanism, as detailing.

“So it was about getting together with these really brilliant people who do this pre-visualization process at Marvel and just detailing the action so that you’re inside it with the character as things come at you, [and] little bits can put things over the top. I’m always drawn to [movies]  like ‘The Perfect Storm’ with George Clooney. It’s not really an action film, but there [are] scenes in it where he looks up and there [are] Rube Goldberg[-esque] things that happen when the mast comes down and it goes by his head a foot away. It’s just a split second, but for some reason in the midst of everything else, that little bit of extra detail sells the action and you remember the sequence.

Robert Downey, Jr. stars as Tony Stark/Iron Man in "Iron Man 3"

The character of Tony Stark and his own internal dilemmas lie at the heart of all this action. As Black noted, the more explosive scenes in the film have to come from a place of character, and in order to really integrate the two you need to make the stakes for our hero even greater.

“We were much more inspired by the first half of the first Iron Man film to say let’s put him metaphorically back in the cave with a box of scraps and see how he uses his brain to get out of it,” remembers Feige. “And that’s very much in Shane’s wheelhouse, taking cinematic tropes and cinematic conceits and spinning them in unexpected ways. He’s done that in this film not just in Tony’s story, but even in the armor. He can just toss the armor onto another person, [which] opened up an entire different conceit [that] Shane [used to] construct three unbelievably cool action sequences. [That] gave us the opportunity to check that box of ‘big action’ while it’s really a Tony Stark character story.”


Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale with Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley, “Iron Man 3” is directed by Shane Black from a screenplay by Drew Pearce and Shane Black and is based on Marvel’s iconic super hero Iron Man, who first appeared in the pages of TALES OF SUSPENSE #39 in 1963 and had his solo comic book debut with THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1 in May of 1968.

“Iron Man 3” is presented by Marvel Studios in association with Paramount Pictures and DMG Entertainment. Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige is producing and Jon Favreau, Louis D'Esposito, Stephen Broussard, Victoria Alonso, Alan Fine, Charles Newirth, Stan Lee and Dan Mintz are executive producers. The film releases May 3, 2013, and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

In addition to "Iron Man 3," Marvel Studios will release a slate of films based on the Marvel characters including "Thor: The Dark World" on November 8, 2013; "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" on April 4, 2014; "Guardians of the Galaxy" on August 1, 2014; the untitled "Marvel's The Avengers" sequel on May 1, 2015; and "Ant-Man" on November 6, 2015.

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