“Iron Man 3” brought the heavy metal thunder to Comic-Con.
Marvel Studios scored it’s first major post-“Avengers” victory at San Diego’s Comic-Con International by deploying it’s least stealthy weapon to whip the assembled fans into a frenzy: Robert Downey, Jr. Appearing with co-star Don Cheadle, writer-director Shane Black and Marvel Studios chief creative officer Kevin Feige, Downey pulled out all stops to remind fans that Tony Stark’s solo story is as compelling as the saga of his assembled teammates, and PopcornBiz was behind the scenes to get the filmmakers’ teases on raising the bar for the Armored Avenger.
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Shane Black: There is an idea about being big, but to me it’s an idea about capturing and doubling the intensity that ‘The Avengers’ managed to capture. It’s that lightning-in-a-bottle feel of really stuffing so much into a limited space. We’re trying to get as much in this as we can. We’re just looking to get a ton of thrills in a short space, and make a nice little stew for you.
Robert Downey, Jr.: The Avengers even surprised us, to a certain extent. Looking back on it, you can dissect why it was the right movie with the right people and the right director at the right time, and we feel the same way about this now. I feel that Rhodey and Tony had not entirely been explored as much as they could be. That was always a big part of the comics, and the heart of it. We also tried to be practical: in a post-‘Avengers world, what are his challenges now? What are some limitations that might be placed on him? And what sort of threat would have him, as usual, ignore those limitations?
Black: Truthfully, the way to go about doing a part three, if you’re ever in that position as I’m lucky enough to be, is to find a way that the first two weren’t done yet. You have to find a way to make sure that the story that’s emerging is still ongoing and, by the time you’ve finished three, will be something resembling the culmination of a trilogy. It’s about “How has the story not yet been completely told?” And I think we’re getting there. I think we’ve really found ways to make this feel organic and new, based on what’s come before, and that’s what I’m happy about.
Downey: The main thing is Shane’s storytelling, and that emotional depth that happens without taking itself too seriously. There were times when [Jon] Favreau and I would call Shane when we had a big scene the next day. His payment once was to have us get him a piece of salmon and some fresh blueberries. He became known as Code Word: Blueberries after that. And he works for the same fee now.
Black: The remarkable thing that Jon Favreau managed to do when he forged these movies was establishing a precedent of espionage, high-tech, ‘Top Gun’-style thrills, coupled with romantic comedy, in a strange way. That’s always been the mainstay of these movies. That’s one of my favorite things about it, too. The romance is definitely a part of it. We’ve got Gwyneth [Paltrow] coming back, and some time has passed. In ‘The Avengers,’ Pepper and Tony are together and doing great, and living together.
Kevin Feige: This is a very Tony Stark-centric film – meaning not just Tony, but his world with Pepper and with Rhodey. It was important to us as part of the grand plan, from ‘Iron Man 1’ to ‘The Avengers,’ to build that up. Frankly, the next step of the grand plan, with ‘Iron Man 3,’ is to prove they’re just as interesting, if not more so, by themselves, as they were when they were all together in ‘The Avengers.’ ‘Iron Man 3’ by design is a very serious character study. It’s not a serious movie, but we seriously dug into exploring more of Tony, of Rhodey and of Pepper, without calling S.H.I.E.L.D. and calling Thor or Cap.
Don Cheadle: I do suit up. There are some different iterations that War Machine goes through, in this film. I don’t want to give them away, but it’s fun to see those things morph and shift. The Iron Man suit is really spectacular in this film, I think, with the innovation that’s happened with it.
Feige: I’ve been at Marvel for 12 years now, and we’ve had that concern, going back to when ‘X-Men’ came out, and then two years later when ‘Spider-Man’ came out. And then, in one year, there were three films. The trick and the formula is just trying to make great movies. We try to make them all great, all different and all fresh. What you’ll see in ‘Iron Man 3’ that Shane is bringing to it are some very unique plot points and directions that were taken with the franchise. The same thing with Thor, and the same thing with Captain America. As long as they all feel fresh and you don’t fall into some sort of formulaic mold, I hope [people will want to see them].
Black: We were allowed to take some risks, and I think that’s very notable. I think it’s very admirable, in a superhero movie, to be able to take a few risks. That’s why I wanted to do this
Downey: Interestingly enough, this film has a lot of breadth to it. We realized, at the beginning of Iron Man 2, Tony was dying, and then he had a party, and then he was drunk, and some people were going, “We don’t like him!” There’s a way to enjoy all of that shadowy stuff. We just kept thinking about, “What would it really be like, if this guy was in this country? Where else could he go in this country? What sorts of themes and backdrops could we explore?” If you look to the history of the films that Shane has written and directed, there’s a real desire for me, just as someone who loves the movies, to hearken back to some of those themes, and they will occur in "Iron Man 3."
Black: Although Tony won’t fall off the wagon.
Downey: You haven’t seen my rewrites! Rhodey picks him up at Betty Ford in Scene 2.