Iron Man 3 director Shane Black says his new instalment in the hit superhero series is a modern-day take on the famous Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol.
Black has often elected to set his films during the festive season, and Iron Man 3 is no different.
In an exclusive interview with film critic Alistair Harkness, the writer and director explained why many of his movies, including Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and now Iron Man 3, all take place at Christmas.
“I think it’s just a universal leveler. An almost magical backdrop that invites a hush, momentary time-out in people’s lives,” he said.
“To have to dig for bits of Christmas, and find that magic in the midst of the tumult of an action film, has a real psychological resonance for me.
“We actually started talking about this as ‘A Christmas Carol’ episode of Iron Man. Certain characters in Iron Man 3 are analogous to different ghosts from the Dickens tale.”
Black made his name writing hit action-thrillers before casting Iron Man star Robert Downey Jnr. in his directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. And he revealed that he was persuaded to make the latest Marvel blockbuster by Downey Jnr. himself.
“Robert and I had stayed in touch. He’d brought me the script for the first Iron Man film and said, ‘We need you to do a rewrite,’ and I was like, ‘Eh, I don’t really want to, but I’ll sit and talk to you.’
“When they were looking to make the third one Robert called me up again and said: “Why don’t you just say ‘yes’ and do it officially?
“So I said yes. It wasn’t exactly out of my wheelhouse though: I’ve been reading Iron Man since I bought my first issue in 1966 as a four-year-old kid.”
Black duly directed Iron Man 3, as well as co-writing the screenplay with Drew Pearce. He used to be the highest-paid writer in Hollywood – selling The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight for $1.75m and $4m respectively – and admits he was frustrated when people started branding him a ‘hack’ as a result.
“I’d ask why, and they’d be like: ‘You took all that money.’ I’d just respond to them with: ‘If you wrote a script and somebody offered you this much, would you turn it down?’”
Black, who recently criticised the lack of original movies currently being made in Hollywood, also says he’s amazed by the number of modern screenwriters who don’t read any fiction.
“They tell me they don’t read, and I’ll say ‘but you’re a writer!’
“They’ll just look at me and say: ‘I write movies, not books.’
“You can’t write anything unless you read voraciously. If you don’t love a sentence, if you don’t actually become delighted over a paragraph of someone’s writing, then I think, even as a screenwriter, you’re lacking essential nutrients.”
Iron Man 3 is out from tomorrow at UK cinemas. Find screenings near you on WOW247
For more on Iron Man 3, you can also read our exclusive interview with Sir Ben Kingsley, who plays villain ‘The Mandarin’.