Action, emotion and a lot of Iron — are these the ingredients that make up the new addition to the Marvel franchise, Iron man 3? What was it like having new director Shane Black on board? And how can this film follow on from The Avengers? We got a chance to find out the answers and really get under the skin of the Iron suit at the recent Iron Man 3 Press Conference (fangirling from the journalists was inevitable)!
Ben, this was a whole new world for you. How was that world to enter?
Ben Kingsley: As a complement to the rest of the people at the table, and deeply intended, the welcome that they give to a new boy is extraordinary. I think it’s a measure of their confidence and their joy in what they do and what they’ve created in the franchise. But the welcome they gave to me was assured, so generous and so confident that within seconds I felt like a team player. It was a really extraordinary experience for me.
Gwyneth, your character Pepper gets to kick ass in this film. That must have been fun to explore?
Gwyneth Paltrow: Yeah it was fun! It was great. Part of the fun in doing these films is that Pepper keeps evolving and it was really fun.
We see Tony Stark stripped of everything he kind relies on, for the first time in this film. For you (Robert Downey Jr.) how was it to explore the layers of the character?
Robert Downey Jr.: We all figured that after The Avengers we couldn’t go for more of a spectacle so… I’m just so please as people are seeing the movie and they’re telling us that we kind of did this correctly.
Shane, Iron Man 3 is a film that arrives at the end of two previous films, kind of like the sequel to two films (Iron Man 2 and The Avengers Assemble). Did you have to bear that in mind as you approached this project, or was it like starting from a blank canvas?
Shane Black: I think when you do anything that’s ‘number three’ you have to just ask yourself, how can we pretend that this was supposed to happen anyway? What’s the story left to tell that makes it seem, in retrospect, that it was waiting to get itself told? I think finding the things that you like about Iron Man that hadn’t been mined yet and trying to included them in such a way that… You know it’s weird because it’s not a trilogy — there’s another movie called The Avengers that’s in the middle, so it’s almost like the trilogy, and then us. It was weird, he saves the world, perfects his technology and Iron Man has sort of emerged as this global superhero. So then we have this fourth movie in the way. So we’re still looking for the thing that hasn’t been explored yet.
The Iron Man suite enhances Tony Stark, how much does that define him?
Ben Kingsley: I think the film really does explore the exterior, the suit, the layer and then what’s inside it, on many levels. I think that’s what Drew (Pearce — scriptwriter) and Shane (Black) gave to it, a heart and vulnerability. There are moments of terrific violence but they’re always followed by a moment of tenderness, comradeship and banter. I think the structure of the film, and its grace, is that movement from the indestructible and infallible to the completely vulnerable.
Robert, your character has post-traumatic stress disorder in the film. Despite all the danger and chaos he experiences in this film he still keeps on moving forward bravely. How did you manage to play a complicated role like that?
Robert Downey Jr.: What I really liked about this was that in the post Avengers world we just asked questions, like “Wouldn’t he be a little bit freaked out?” and then that ended up being part of the theme. The trauma thing to me was just, again, asking the question and getting away from the unbeatable spectacle of Avengers. So we asked, “wouldn’t it actually be like this if we were back in Tony’s world?”
Shane, obviously this is a huge franchise and a juggernaut of a movie. Did you have any trepidation about getting on board with that juggernaut? Also we have to ask you, you’re sitting here with Robert so is there any chance of a return to the characters you bought us in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang?
Shane Black: Taking the second question first — it would be nice wouldn’t it? But no, it just didn’t make the coffers overflow. (Going back to the first question) It doesn’t matter because you make an action film and we all know what that’s supposed to be, but it’s just quantified. So it’s the extent that it connects us with what we already know.
Action doesn’t change whether you’re doing a car chase or you’re doing science fiction. More important than that is the ability to generate a story that works, because I think movies look great now days, for the most part. Movies sound great. You don’t hear someone say, “I just went to go see the new big budget movie, god it sounded shitty!” because technically things are perfect. The stories are not always engaging; they’re not always perfect.
And so as long as I got a chance to come on board to direct, and kind of give flesh to a story that makes sense and works — and I have people on board to collaborate with, like Robert Downey — I know we’re gonna make a shape that could be fun. I don’t care how much it costs, or what scale it’s at; the story is what’s important. The spectacle is simply a part of telling that story, it’s not the other way round. The tail doesn’t wag the dog, so the ‘bigness’ of the picture to me is the least interesting thing about it. And the innovation, the talent behind it, and the funniness of it is what I’m most proud of.
Shane and Robert, you’ve obviously worked together on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Robert in interviews we’ve seen before you like to improvise with the script and do things with directors. Did you find working with Shane reenergising? Did it help you to get a whole new take on the character and make it fresh again? Lastly Robert, would you direct a Marvel movie?
Robert Downey Jr.: (Whispers) Thank You. You mean just eliminate the middleman? No urmm excellent question. First of all, I had a really good time making this movie. I don’t often set out and imagine I’m gonna have a fun time shooting because these things, they’re genre movies, but we take them pretty serious you know and then things get all stressed. The one thing you shouldn’t have said, Shane, is that you don’t care how much it cost because you’re gonna get offered a bunch of movies and you have to be mindful of budget.
Just like to say we really sympathise with the character that has a huge man crush on Iron Man because we’re in the same situation! Our question is, are there any stories, comics or characters you’d like to see in future Iron Man or Avengers movies?
Drew Pearce: Well obviously I have no idea what’s coming next. We do know that Joss (Whedon) is doing Avengers 2, he has wonderful taste so he will dip into the cannon brilliantly, I’m sure. This movie is a tribute to Warren Ellis and Matt Fraction, some of the brilliant modern day writers of the comics, who it feels appropriate to give a shout out to! Who knows what comes next, and if there is a next — Robert? And that’s a cricket!
Was Pepper Potts such a strong female character in the comics or is that just something that has developed through the films? Gwyneth, what’s it like playing such a strong female character in a comic book movie?
Gwyneth Paltrow: You know, I had never even heard of Iron Man until John Favreau called me, I didn’t grow up reading comics at all. When the first Iron Man came about I had taken a few years off and I was home having kids and stuff. There was no script, so I was really flying blind because I didn’t know anything about the comics or the films that we were going to do, Robert and John talked me into doing it.
It’s been a great journey playing Pepper in every movie. I think she gets to have a real evolution and I think Iron Man 3 is definitely the most fun and interesting for her out of all of them so far. So I never would have thought of myself as being in a comic book super hero movie and now I’m so happy its been my main job for the last six years, I’ve had such a good time.
Written By: Rebecca Rayner