The making of Iron Man 3 was a very different experience for Shane Black. Not only was it only the second movie he made as a director (eight years after his debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), but it was also the first project that he had ever been involved with that was also part of a much larger franchise. It would be an intimidating job for any filmmaker, but Black was able to keep it all together thanks to some key advice from Joss Whedon: trust in Marvel.

With Shane Black’s third directorial effort, The Nice Guys, set to arrive in theaters this Friday, I had the pleasure of hopping on the phone with the filmmaker to talk about his present, past and future work. At one point the subject of the conversation turned to his time working on Iron Man 3, and he explained how it was Joss Whedon’s influence that helped get him through the production. Said Black,
Joss Whedon came to me when I was kind of freaking out about all the moving parts and said, ‘Just trust the machine. [Marvel Studios President Kevin] Feige is good at what he does. Do your part, work hard, but you don’t have to control every moving part. These guys are good. They’ll show you how to do this.’ And from that point on, I just opened my ears and had a tremendous experience learning how movies function at that level. I trusted the machine, and I still think Marvel is the one doing it right. I think they’re great over there.

To say it all worked out would be an understatement. In addition to receiving positive reviews, Iron Man 3 also went on to become one of the most successful blockbusters of all time. When it was released in 2015 it managed to pull in the fifth highest opening weekend total ever, and it is still currently ranked at number 10 on the all-time worldwide box office chart. When you also think about the fact that the movie still very much has Shane Black’s tone and energy running through its veins, all while he let himself trust the Marvel Studios system, it’s hard to call it anything but a win.

The Nice Guys marks an amazing return to original filmmaking for Shane Black (and all of you should see it this weekend), but it won’t be long until the writer/director is stepping back into the franchise world. He is currently developing The Predator as his next feature, and that film is on track to come out in 2018. Obviously that series isn’t part of a much bigger machine like Iron Man 3 was at Marvel, but given Black’s personal history with Predator, he probably doesn’t need the same kind of back-up.

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