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Is Shane Black back yet? Can we successfully call it a Shane Black world? The writer-director returned from the wilderness with the billion-dollar Iron Man 3, seemingly attracting his own blank check. But that blank check took a little extra time to materialize, as Black re-arranged the puzzle pieces. Now, he's locked and loaded into his next movie, and The Nice Guys will be a return to the classic Black that re-ignited blockbuster cinema in the eighties and nineties.

The Hollywood Reporter claims that the WB has jumped onto The Nice Guys and will produce and distribute the film, with Shane Black's choices of Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in the lead roles. The project is a noir, produced by Joel Silver (Lethal Weapon) where a private eye and hired muscle team up to investigate the murder of a porn star, only to find out that she has ties to a massive underground conspiracy that involves the water companies. Black and co-writer Anthony Bagarozzi originally developed the idea of a television series, though they have refitted it into a movie that would star two big movie stars.

Warner Bros., who previously made Black's directorial debut Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang as well as the Black-written Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout, will move quickly on this, presumably with a fourth quarter shoot. Ryan Gosling has no projects currently set up, though Russell Crowe is currently working on his directorial debut The Water Diviner. The hope is that Gosling and Crowe can recreate the dynamic that made so many Black duos so much fun to watch, from Gibson and Glover in Lethal Weapon, to Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, and Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans in the highly underrated The Last Boy Scout.

This frees up Shane Black to tackle his remake/redo/sequel of Predator early next year, which is sort of an awesome twofer as far as upcoming movies. Black, who starred in the original Predator, is exactly the right guy to capture the vibe of tough guys trading quips that came from the original film. It's easy to forget that, in the late eighties and early nineties, that's the sword Black wielded to run this town. Black pulled down millions, the sort of cash screenwriters don't see these days, for offering polishes on stuff like The Last Action Hero and earning top dollar for penning thrillers like The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Now that The Nice Guys is a go-picture at a major studio, could we see a return to the days of larger-than-life action heroes ready with a quip or a punch, sans irony? One can only hope.

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