Interview: 'Iron Man 3' Writer/Director Shane Black And Marvel Head Kevin Feige

A couple weeks ago I got the opportunity to sit down with Marvel head Kevin Feige and Iron Man 3 writer/director Shane Black.

We've run some of the answers over the last week as stand-alone posts, but you can read the whole interview transcript after the jump, including collecting Back to the Future memorabilia, Iron Man at Disneyland, transforming a superhero movie into a detective story, Patton Oswalt's Star Wars/Marvel crossover rant, if it was weird for Black to direct Jon Favreau in an Iron Man movie, how Iron Man 3 sets-up future Marvel films, Tony Stark's unexpected team-up with a child, how Marvel deals with leaks, misinformation and the rumors of the age of the internet.

Set-up: When I walked into the room, Kevin Feige began asking me about my Back to the Future collection and being a Disneyland fanatic. I did not plan to talk about these things, but have decided to leave this conversation in the transcript as some might find it amusing.

Peter Sciretta: I am doing well.Kevin Feige: Let me check that out for a second. Is that "Gorillas?" (referring to Peter's t-shirt, pictured below)ZZ09176288No, it's "Donkey Kong."Shane Black: That's a badass Donkey Kong.Yeah...Kevin Feige: You're a big Disneyland fan, aren't you?I am.Kevin Feige: I love that.I'm actually probably a Disneyland fanatic.Kevin Feige: Have you been over to the Hall of Armor?Yes, I was there...Kevin Feige: You were there on press day?And if I wasn't there, I would have been in the long line the next morning.Shane Black: And is it good?Yeah, it's fun. It looks more like a permanent exhibit than I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be...Kevin FeigeThe bar is innoventions, then it's going to be pretty good.We're waiting for "Stark Expo" or a real Marvel attraction or land in the park.Kevin Feige: Some day...It's funny, all of the Disneyland employees there, they had an Imagineer there, none of them would acknowledge that this was a Marvel attraction in the park. Like they kept saying "Oh, this isn't Marvel in the park, this is just an exhibit from Tony Stark."Kevin Feige: That's what Disney keeps saying? Some day there will be an excellent integration, but it's a good start. It's fun to see.It is fun. A lot of people were having a lot of fun there.Kevin Feige: Did you do the "Iron Man Kinect" thing? Did it work?Yeah, and it's a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be.Kevin Feige: That's good. So it's just like a Kinect game?It is kind of like that... The armor comes on you and it's kind of fun to dance around in.Kevin Feige: I follow Peter on Twitter, because he has the same interests as I do and you tweeted a picture, I don't know if it's your office or your house or something, with your BACK TO THE FUTURE posters and your hoverboard and your flux and it looks exactly like the corner of my house.

(here is a photo Peter instagramed the day before:)

ZZ70C097C4Oh really?Kevin Feige: Except I haven't framed the triptych...Oh, I just did that.Kevin Feige:  But I do have the flux on my wall and I have the hoverboard, which is only okay, let's face it.Yeah, I agree. It feels kinda cheap and its not entirely accurate the the movie.Kevin Feige:   But at least it's there.It looks cool from a few feet away.Kevin Feige:   It looks like I had a skateboard from nineteen eighty nine and I took the trucks off and it looked like a hoverboard. Anyway. Sorry.That's awesome. I love the film by the way.Kevin Feige:  Is that what you were going to say in your video review that you filmed, but can't put online yet?Yes. How do you know I filmed... Oh yeah...Kevin Feige:  Because... And you guys always do that.Yeah. Most of the film was not what I expected, in a good way. I didn't expect it to be as much of a detectives story as it was. Shane Black: Just changing the shape of it a little bit, because I wanted to get back to... With Marvel's permission, they were gracious enough to say "Yeah, make it more of a thriller and take it back to the roots that involve more of..." I'm always a big plot lover and I don't know that there's a great deal of plot in this movie, but hopefully there's a lot of elements in the movie that seem like a plot when they are steered together. One of those is Tony pursuing a threat that will lead him somewhere to greater knowledge of what he's capable of, but it's also him just going on a trek to find something. I think once you get Tony out of the suit, my instinct is always to bring it back to a sense of James Bond or a sense of mystery. I think the more mysterious a bad guy is, the more he has a scheme... the more there's a caper involved, that's what I always loved about Bond. So without labeling it, there is sort of a caper in this where the bad guy is putting together these elements and Tony is trying to figure out what they are in time to stop him and that is always of interest to me, more than just "There's the problem. Go get it." It's to have it be in layers and to have it reveal itself in stages and then by the final revelation you have your big battle.Very cool. I was going to ask... You probably saw Patton Oswalt's rant that's been all over the place.Shane Black: It's a pretty awesome rant.Yeah, it was awesome. So when are we going to see that movie? When is that going to happen?Kevin Feige: I don't know, you figure... It probably took twenty or thirty years of comic book movies before they finally decided that we could combine them into THE AVENGERS, so probably another thirty years of STAR WARS movies before Disney goes "What are we going to do?" "Put them together!"So 2048.Kevin Feige: "Be there!"You know, I have a weird question... Was it at all strange directing Jon Favreau, since he kind of created the IRON MAN franchise?Shane Black: It wasn't.There was never any weirdness or anything where he's like "I think it should be this way?"Shane Black: No. In fact, I walked up to him the first day and said, "Are you feeling weird?" He says "A little bit. It's emotional." I said, "Oh, wow. I'm sorry. If it's emotional, what can I do to help?" He said, "You could tell me where to stand." So it's just that easy with Jon, and he was incredibly helpful to me. I had known him before, we had talked briefly about IRON MAN one and he didn't know who I was, but he sat there with his ears open and listened to what some schmuck had to say back then and I have nothing but respect for him and so there was no negative energy in that room. It was me respecting him enormously and him being gracious enough to accept me in the position and so it was instantly [snaps fingers] "What can I do to help?" I tell him, "well, how about some tips? How about some advice?" He instantly became an ally and a resource.Kevin Feige: He was incredibly gracious with his time. Not just his time as an executive producer on this movie, as he was on AVENGERS and will be on AVENGERS 2, but with the biggest role I think Happy has ever had, and best role, and a lot of the gags and a lot of the story line was Jon. Jon sort of came up with it and plus on the day, which was great.Most of the films thus far, set up something for a future Marvel movie — but this movie feels very self contained. It doesn't appear to tease any of the future films. Am I missing something? Is there a second end credits scene to be added later on?Kevin Feige: Well no. The idea, primarily, was for it to be a stand alone movie, that the first post AVENGERS movie be stand alone, again to always show that "Don't think you can predict what we are going to do next" basically is the notion, and also just keeping it as broad as possible. The comics are some time stand alone and some times they combine all the characters together. That being said, because Joss is working on AVENGERS 2 and because Joss has been privy to everything we are doing with all of the phase two movies, there are elements of this movie that tie directly into AVENGERS 2.Interesting. Another one of my favorite parts of this movie is again something I completely didn't expect to like — Tony Stark teaming up with the kid. And it's one of those things that could have been...Kevin Feige: Did you expect to hate it?Well, I I didn't know it was going to be that big of a part of the film, but I thought it was going to be one of those annoying little things. I ended up loving it and I feel like you, Shane, are one of the few writer directors that could make that work. Can you talk a little bit about what went into the idea of that?Shane Black: We wanted a brassy kid that represents in the way that The Ghost of Christmas Past is for Tony and he runs into him and there's something a little magical about Tony on his own, completely on the backfoot and suddenly he's got to look at a kid and try to summon up some advice or words of wisdom that he doesn't have and the kid ends up teaching him. That was the idea. Now having said that, we get Robert and the kid in the room and they start having fun, pretty soon we get a lot of one liners, we get the fun panic attack that he has with the kid there and it just became a real relationship. In a few scenes, relatively few, that's what's amazing to watch, how something can bloom when you've got the right actors and they're not just saying lines, but you're actually experiencing on set the evolution of something that happens between two people that's real and you happen to have a camera rolling. That's what happened. It felt like these guys had a relationship and we got to capture it on film.Kevin Feige: Well it's also what Shane brings as a director. There are four or five things in this movie that with a different filmmaker I never would have... I would have said "Steer clear from that. Run far away.... We are not doing that..." In Shane's hands, it's just quirky enough and just unexpected enough that they all worked. They all worked.You're a very internet savvy guy and it seems like you're reading everything... There's a lot of sites up there reporting leaks or rumors or sometimes even misinformation. I wanted to get your thoughts on "How does Marvel deal with this" in an age when sharing information on the internet is becoming unstoppable.Kevin Feige: What are you talking about? LATINO REVIEW?Nobody specifically. Really just interested in how Marvel Studios is evolving to handle the internet as a whole...Kevin Feige: How would you "punish" them if you were us?Its an interesting question. I think the only thing you could probably do is exclude them — don't give them access. Don't invite them to set visits, to junkets. But I don't know, info is always going to get out there and someones always going to be posting it.Kevin Feige: Here's what I will say, since X MEN one frankly, where a photo was stolen off a wardrobe thing and it was the very first look of Hugh Jackman in costume as him under flourescents... it looked awful. (Laughs) It was just like "Oh, this is the world we are living in. This is the reality." So we've always just accepted it. Spy pictures will leak and we used to try to run ahead and put out a cool picture first and now if we have a cool picture we will put it out, but if we don't, that's okay. Misinformation... You know, it gets a little annoying when somebody is like "This is what's happening! This is what Kevin Feige is doing!" It's annoying when they right and it's equally annoying when they are wrong, because everybody passes it. "PLANET HULK is the next thing" and everybody talks about it and you're just like "Okay, but you'll be disappointed if you're expecting it."Shane Black: (smirking) It's like Iron Man flying off to see The Guardians at the end of this one...You read that everywhere.Kevin Feige: Exactly, but then again, nobody knew about Redford until we announced it. Nobody knew about what you know now having seen IRON MAN 3, so as long as there are secrets that big that are still being kept, I know it's nobody in the inner circle. Does that make sense?I'll say this: Doing my job I'm exposed to almost all of the spoilers. I see all the trailers, all the footage, and still, you guys had some great surprises in there that I didn't know about — and that really made me happy. Anyways, I want to thank you.Shane Black: Thanks, Peter.Kevin Feige: Good seeing you, as always.Peter Sciretta: Good seeing both of you.Kevin Feige: Take care, man.