I saw Iron Man 3 last night and it was great. This was largely because it was directed and co-written by Shane Black, and it feels like it: It's clever and funny, with a narrative that isn't afraid to take some hard left turns, and it's got a sharp, cynical, not-quite-angry-but-it-sure-wouldn't-take-much-to-get-there undercurrent. It's the darkest Iron Man movie, but it's also—easily—the funniest and best Iron Man movie. So yeah. I really liked it!
But even without all the Iron Man tech and spectacle, it was also just delightful to see a new Shane Black movie. A reminder: The guy wrote and directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in 2004, and before that, had a run as Hollywood's go-to screenwriter for action-comedies, writing Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and The Long Kiss Goodnight (along with, ah, The Monster Squad and Last Action Hero). When Kiss Kiss Bang Bang came out, it'd been eight years from the last movie he'd worked on (1996's The Long Kiss Goodnight), and between Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3, it's been nine years. Which made it kind of surprising when Disney hired him to make Iron Man 3—no doubt thanks to some encouragement from Robert Downey, Jr.
But like Soderbergh said in that thing I linked to earlier today, filmmaking is "about horses, not races." Soderbergh elaborated:
If I were going to run a studio I’d just be gathering the best filmmakers I could find and sort of let them do their thing within certain economic parameters. So I would call Shane Carruth, or Barry Jenkins, or Amy Seimetz, and I’d bring them in and go, "Okay, what do you want to do?"
First, somebody get Soderbergh a studio, and second, sort of, this brings me back to Black: If I were running a studio (quick, somebody get me a studio), Black would be one of those filmmakers I'd call and sort of let him do his own thing within certain economic parameters. Because up until now, Hollywood kind of forgot about him—but as Iron Man 3 ably demonstrates, they shouldn't have.
I hope Iron Man 3 sets up a whole slate of new movies for Shane Black. Until that happens, I'm going to rewatch my favorite Black movie, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. You might want to too.
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