By Nikki Griffin
With Marvel's "Iron Man 3" soaring up the box office, director Shane Black and producer Kevin Feige have ample reason to be proud. From behind the camera, Black and Feige helped shape Tony Stark's newest--and most dangerous--adventure into the action-pack thrill ride audiences can now experience in theaters and IMAX 3D.
Now, with "Iron Man 3" breaking records around the world, Black and Feige talk about what went into creating the hit film, including the science of Extremis, Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian and more!
|Director Shane Black and star Robert Downey, Jr. on set of "Iron Man 3"|
Marvel.com: It must have been difficult to choose which characters were going to be a part of this movie. How did you decide what story you were going to tell in the third film of this series?
Kevin Feige: The "Extremis" storyline has been inspiring us since [the first] Iron Man, the Warren Ellis/Charlie Knauf re-interpretation of Tony’s origin. I remember Robert [Downey, Jr.] used to say, "Hey, this Extremis stuff is really cool," and I’d joke and say, "Oh, that’s part three." And that was in the early days, before we had any idea that Iron Man would work. So, when we got to part three, so much of ["Extremis"] is the origin story, and we had already done that, that we wanted to use it as seeds to grow a new story. Maya, who is just as smart as Tony, has gone down a similar path, without the redemptive angle. And Aldrich, we needed a name that Maya worked for, so we just said, "Let’s use the one from the comics."
Marvel.com: Shane, "Iron Man 3" opens with Tony in a bit of a funk; he’s in a bad place. It seems like Tony’s problems in this installment arise from situations he could have avoided. Was that a choice you and co-screenwriter Drew Pearce made as a team?
|"Iron Man 3" now in theaters and IMAX 3D|
Shane Black: It came out of the comic books. One of the things we wanted to recreate was a story from his past, that maybe he created problems for himself that he was too drunk to remember, like he stumbled into this thing where he said, "Get out of here clown, meet me on the roof," and that eventually comes back to bite him. [And] Maya is this girl in the "Extremis" comic that he meets in the past who is vibrant, vivacious and incredibly enthusiastic about this discovery that he just poo-poos at the time. I like that idea very much. So, bringing her back in the future has the sense of a good mystery, the return of the femme fatale who says, "Listen, we can’t talk here," and then she gets cut off. That’s how it emerged, following the natural story of the comic book. I think the fact that there is a female scientist that he slept with, and left what you think is a love note on the stand that turns out to be a formula that he just jotted down...I like that idea. I love the idea that he is a playboy, but also this very restive, unrelenting mind. It’s all about his relationships with women, but tech, as well. Even with Pepper, it is tech and women. Tony Stark is a playboy genius. It’s all sex and technology, and they war in his head, because he tries to cover up this brain that won’t stay still, with all the accouterments of fast cars and fast women. But he still can’t help writing that formula and leaving it on the nightstand.
|Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) in "Iron Man 3"|
Marvel.com: Guy Pearce is such a talented, dynamic actor, and he pulled off the arc of his character flawlessly. What was the process that went into casting him?
Kevin Feige: We’ve always loved Guy, we’ve always been a huge fan of his. And the timing worked out that he could join us on this film. The great thing about him is that he can bring so many layers to it, so you know it isn’t just about, "Oh, you ditched me on a rooftop." There’s a desperation to him, a perverted genius to him, like there is to Maya, like there is to Tony. And frankly, I don’t think we would have gone as broad as we did in the beginning if it wasn’t Guy. I mean, he can pull off the crazy hair, the crazy teeth and the limp, before turning into this really suave guy.
Shane Black: There’s also a touch of Mozart and Salieri to it, as well.* I love the idea that the envy that he has for Tony Stark is so palpable. He wants his ideas, he wants his stuff, and ultimately, he wants Tony to work for him, and he wants to date Tony's girl. So there's that real sense of wanting to appropriate the queen, in a way.
Marvel.com: Marvel’s comics often feature some kind of scientific research, or experiment, gone wrong that leads to the creation of super heroes and villains, as it does here. When writing the script did you study up on your biotechnology and genetics?
Shane Black: We wanted to create a sense of science, but we didn’t really have to do a lot of research, because even the rudiments of it were in the comic book, "Extremis." [Writer] Warren Ellis does this wonderful job of explaining how we were all meant to be upgraded. How there is a portion of us that has sort of existed forever, which is essentially a port that we haven’t developed the capacity to fill yet. And once we do, once we inject something in, our bodies recognize part of their evolution so that they’re ready to take this next step. It is just an interesting philosophical idea that he had shared in the comic, that we thought we could use. All the reactions to the post-war feel of technology, the 1945-1960 was the Atomic Café generation, so in 1961, [around when many of the Marvel super hereos were created], there was the fear of radioactivity. So, these [comics] were all attempts to deal with, psychologically, the impacts of negative science. Godzilla came from an atomic blast, as well.
|Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man in "Iron Man 3"|
Marvel.com: Was there anything you wish you could have done that didn’t make it into the movie?
Shane Black: I really wanted, if you ever watched "The Hardy Boys Mysteries" on Saturday mornings, or "Fat Albert," they would solve a mystery, or they’d reach a conclusion, like a moral, and then they’d cut to them singing about it like a rock group. Maybe after the credits, I desperately wanted to see Jon Favreau on the bass and Gwyneth on the drums, belting out, [singing] "You don’t want to change yourself too much..." Or something like that.
*Mozart and Salieri were both famous classical composers. Mozart resented the Italian Salieri’s success at Austrian court in the 1780s, and blamed him for impeding his own rise to fame. There are letters from Mozart to his father that suggest his jealousy was a bit out of control.
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.