Last month, the Internet was atwitter with the news that Shane Black -- the man who gave us the screenplay for movies like 'Lethal Weapon' and 'The Last Boy Scout' -- would be writing and directing 'Iron Man 3' for Marvel Comics. Not so fast, says Deadline New York.
The website broke exclusive news that the comics giant has tapped Drew Pearce to craft the story for Tony Stark's third cinematic adventure. Pearce is also writing the screen adaptation of 'Runaways,' a popular Brian K. Vaughn series about the children of supervillains who try to erase their parents' legacy of evil by using their powers for good.
Sources say that Pearce is "in talks" to write the script, which he would pen from scratch. What does this mean for Shane Black? Black, who's better known for his screenplays than as a director (although his directorial debut, 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' is quite good), will reportedly work closely with Pearce as the screenplay evolves.
That sounds like studio-speak for "Black will direct the film and have the usual level of involvement with the script, but we're handing the story over to someone with a more comics-oriented background." It begs the question of why, though. As far as writers go, Black is a well-known commodity and the idea of him bringing his witty dialogue and action-packed set-pieces to 'Iron Man' sounded like a match made in heaven. Fans were genuinely excited about the prospect – no small feat after a disappointing 'Iron Man 2.'
We wonder if maybe Marvel didn't develop cold feet. The studio will want 'Iron Man 3' to land in theaters with a PG-13 rating at worst and Black's classic action fare has always lived in solid R territory. Perhaps Kevin Feige and company started to imagine what kind of film Black would write (R-rated 'Iron Man' would be totally awesome...) and decided to head off any potential ratings problem before they had a movie in the can or even a completed script.
That's purely speculation, but if it's true then shame on Marvel. Shane Black is a skilled screenwriter who could have crafted a great 'Iron Man' story – solely by virtue of the fact that he's not a comics insider and would bring a unique perspective to the series – and brought it in with a rating that made everyone happy. None of this is meant as a slight to Drew Pearce, but it's disappointing to hear Marvel already backing away from one of the things that had fans excited about a third 'Iron Man' film.
Until we hear more details, it's impossible to say why Marvel made this decision. Perhaps Black would rather concentrate on directing the film, or maybe he wasn't ever really set to write it in the first place, but whatever the reason, this is still a letdown for fans. A Drew Pearce–scripted 'Iron Man 3' could be great (and we hope it is – particularly if they're finally bringing The Mandarin into the story), but hardcore fans will now always wonder just what an 'Iron Man 3' written by Shane Black would have looked like.