Why Iron Man 3 Is A Perfect Shane Black Movie
It Has An Interracial Buddy “Cop” Team-Up
The interracial buddy cop formula actually pre-dates Black’s arrival in Hollywood, with movies like 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop coming out before 1987’s Lethal Weapon, but it’s hard to argue that Black didn’t perfect it. Riggs and Murtaugh are a duo that movie history will never forget. Last Boy Scout’s Joe Hallenbeck and Jimmy Dix put a twist on the formula, making the pairing between a private investigator and a former football star, and the results were hilarious. Long Kiss Goodnight twisted it even further, putting together a P.I. and a female assassin, and the results were even better. And Black got to do it yet again working with Marvel.
Thanks to the relationship between Tony Stark and James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) established in both Iron Man and Iron Man 2 the road was already paved for Black to work his magic, and he once again has. Admittedly Tony and Rhodey don’t spend as much time together as most of the writer/director’s other pairings, but the characters are great when share scenes, be it sitting down for some lunch or fighting a brigade of bad guys together.
You Can Hear It In The Dialogue
Shane Black’s movies have always been as much comedies as they have been action films. While he has always been successful at layering in drama as well, it’s always the laughs that are most memorable. And it’s a credit to Black’s skill at writing dialogue. I will never get bored by the banter between Harry Lockhart (Downey Jr.) and Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang as they discuss how to properly use an adverb, and Long Kiss Goodnight’s Charlie Baltimore (Geena Davis) has some of my favorite one-liners (“You're going to die screaming... and I'm going to watch.”)
In taking on an Iron Man movie Black was gifted with not just the whip-smart, back-talking Tony Stark, but also the chance to reunite with the great Robert Downey Jr., and the writer/director took full advantage of both. Despite the fact that he is dealing with post-traumatic stress after the events seen in The Avengers, Tony is the funniest we’ve ever seen him in Iron Man 3, be it calling a little kid a pussy for talking about his missing dad or talking smack to a couple of guards. The movie just sounds like a Shane Black movie.
The Twisty, Noir-Inspired Detective Story
When it comes to detective films like Lethal Weapon, Last Boy Scout, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Shane Black wears his inspiration on his sleeve. His best stories harken back to those told in pulp fiction novels, and novels by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. All of the pieces fit from the Los Angeles setting to the dark, detective protagonists to the twisty plot. It lends Black’s work a special level of style, and that style certainly carries over to Iron Man 3.
In the new sequel Tony Stark is not just a billionaire, playboy philanthropist anymore, but a billionaire, playboy philanthropist detective. In his battle against The Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley), the hero is forced to go on a full-tilt investigation, revisiting crime scenes, digging through evidence and even interviewing witnesses. More than just being a detective story, though, what makes it a Shane Black detective story is ties back to classic noir. Stark is experiencing his darkest days due to post-traumatic stress from the Battle of New York, his hunt for the villain takes him through all kinds of crazy reveals and plot twists, and there’s even some great voiceover narration and a femme fatale to drive it all home.
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