Shane Black On ‘The Nice Guys,’ Mel Gibson, And Why A Female ‘Iron Man 3’ Villain’s Gender Changed
Shane Black: I read Uproxx.
I do. I don’t read your comment section. A typical Uproxx comment, “That guy Black, he fucked up Iron Man 3. He should die in a pit full of acid.” And you want to respond, but then you’ve bought in, you know?
I never read comments because they will make me feel bad.
That’s what people don’t understand, because they see filmmakers as being guys with money who hang out with movie stars and get girls, or whatever. So nothing can hurt their feelings. Just the opposite is true. These are raw nerves we’re talking about. Filmmakers are more sensitive than anybody.
For the record, I don’t think you fucked up Iron Man 3.
I wish that the fans liked it more.
I was under the impression people do like it.
I’m a people pleaser. Marvel saw so many negative things they made a whole other movie just to apologize called Hail to the King. In which they said, “No, no, the Mandarin is still alive. That wasn’t him. There’s a real Mandarin.” The only reason they made that was an apology to fans who were so angry.
But if Marvel didn’t want you to present Mandarin the way you did, they would have stopped you.
Of course, they didn’t care. But when the blowback hit, they cared.
You had to know there’d be some blowback.
No, we didn’t. We didn’t know. We all thought they’d eat it up because it never occurred to us the Mandarin is as iconic to people as, say, the Joker in Batman.
He’s not. That’s fake.
They just wanted to see the magic rings shoot lasers.
That’s probably true. But that doesn’t fit in Iron Man 3.
You’d need to take the piss out of it and explain how this can happen. In the comic books, it’s literally magic. It’s magic from outer space. I love the fans. I really want to please them.
Was that a hard shoot? I’ve seen Downey say it was a great experience, but I’ve asked Kevin Feige about “hardest Marvel movies to make” and he said Iron Man 3.
We had troubles. Memories are short. You can go through hell together, then six months later go, “That was kind of fun, wasn’t it, John?” The good news is, Downey and I seem to get on pretty well. We’ll bicker now and again, but to me just having him on board elevates the material. So, the toughness was in the logistics instead of the relationships. That’s the good news. We replaced a lot of things. The plot went this way and that way. Stéphanie Szostak’s character was bigger at one point and we reduced it. Rebecca Hall’s character was bigger at one point and we reduced it.
Why? Rebecca Hall’s character does have an abrupt ending.
All I’ll say is this, on the record: There was an early draft of Iron Man 3 where we had an inkling of a problem. Which is that we had a female character who was the villain in the draft. We had finished the script and we were given a no-holds-barred memo saying that cannot stand and we’ve changed our minds because, after consulting, we’ve decided that toy won’t sell as well if it’s a female.
So, we had to change the entire script because of toy making. Now, that’s not Feige. That’s Marvel corporate, but now you don’t have that problem anymore.
Ike Perlmutter is gone.
Yeah, Ike’s gone. But New York called and said, “That’s money out of our bank.” In the earlier draft, the woman was essentially Killian – and they didn’t want a female Killian, they wanted a male Killian. I liked the idea, like Remington Steele, you think it’s the man but at the end, the woman has been running the whole show. They just said, “no way.”
I like the Remington Steele comparison. That would have been great.
I remember Remington Steele probably better than it is. But just so you know, too, I’m a Kevin Feige fan. If you ever say anything about decisions made at Marvel, I hope you’ll qualify it by saying that Kevin Feige is the guy who gets it right. And I don’t know if it was Ike, I don’t know who it was. They never told me who made the decision, we just got that memo one day and it was about toy sales. That’s all I know.
Would you do another Iron Man? Downey seems to have changed his position and is open to another.
I think he wants Mel Gibson to direct it.
Really? Downey has been supportive of Gibson.
And for good reason. Mel was great to him. Mel’s been really nice to a lot of people, including me. I’ll go on record saying I don’t believe anyone should be held accountable in any way for something they say while they are drunk. It’s not who they are. I know this because I’ve said horrible things to people and made them feel bad. And it wasn’t who I was, I was just drunk. Mel’s a great guy and I understand his new directing project is actually quite interesting. So, whatever. If you say something sober it’s one thing. If you’re drunk, you’re going to deliberately be belligerent just to piss people off. You know the effect you’re having and you don’t care. Yeah, one of these days, maybe Downey will do another one. I’d love to work with Robert again.
He had said no to another Iron Man for a long time, but that’s changed.
He’s mellowed on that. But, once again, I just want to go on record, the guy who got me through that process and taught me the ways of the machine when I was trying desperately to control all the visual effects… Joss Whedon came to me and said, “Trust the machine. Kevin Feige is here to help you.” And I suddenly opened my ears to Kevin and I learned so much...
So Maya Henson was to be the big bad. Pelrmutter actually thought kids were going to run out to buy Aldrich Killian toys? So glad he's done with the movie side. The rest of the interview is a good read too.