One of the signatures of the Marvel films starting with Iron Man, and I understand it was part function but also it became something that was fun for you guys to play with, was the notion of the after credits teaser, using that as a sting and using that to kind of point direction to the next thing. I understand on Phase One there’s almost a necessity.
You guys were using that as a building thing.
Do you feel obligated now in Phase 2 as you move towards Phase 3, do you have to do that on every film? Is that something that has become part of how you think about these movies or is it case by case if we have something that’s appropriate you’ll use?
Feige: It’s sort of case by case. I don’t want to be in that theater for the first time when even 2 people stay behind and nothing happens, frankly. I like that we’ve trained at least some people to stay behind and get a little reward, but you’re absolutely right it served a different purpose. It was a part of the, “Hey surprise, these are connected. We’re building towards something here.” Shawarma, which everyone knows famously was an idea we came up with much, much later and shot after the premiere just because we thought it would be fun. There was not going to be a tag until that point. So it’s a little faster and looser now because people know, and frankly the whole purpose of Iron Man 3 is to say that these characters can exist just as successfully on their own again. But, as I said I don’t want to be there when nothing happens after people sit through 8 minutes of credits.
Can you talk about Drew Pearce’s involvement? Is he your writing partner or did you bring him on specifically for this?
Feige: We hired Drew before we hired Shane. We didn’t have a director yet. Drew Pearce had done an amazing draft of a script called Runaways for us, which is a movie we ended up not making.
Black: It sounds amazing.
Feige: It’s so amazing we didn’t make it, but we hired him to do Iron Man 3 because we were meeting with various directors and most of them were not writer-directors. When we were meeting with Shane we realized he was the best guy for the job and knew obviously he was also a writer. We didn’t want to just toss Drew aside; we didn’t think that was fair.
Feige: He did. We said, “Shane this is great, why don’t you have the job? By the way we have a writer.” “What do you mean?” He thought all these things; he was political enough not to say them. I think he grumbled a lot and to his credit and to Drew’s credit they now seem to be two peas in a pod.
Black: Yeah, we got together and I said, “Okay, basically, I don’t know why you’re here.” And he said, “I guess we’re supposed to write together,” and this is not usually how great teams start [laughs]. But we said, “Alright, let’s see.” And pretty soon I realized very quickly that this guy had an affinity for this and he and I became friends and rode back and forth to work every day talking about it.
Feige: About four weeks into it we were in a meeting and they, together, were kind of pitching us some ideas and directions and Shane kind of kicked it off and said, “You know, I initially thought that Drew Pearce was the devil, the demon that you hired, and now I think he’s great. I really do.” And Drew was not in the room when he said that, which is how I knew it was true.
Black: But Drew and I, we’ll finish each other’s sentences and things like that. We trade clothes.
After cell phones came out ,horror directors had to come up with elaborate ways to explain why people wouldn’t call someone on a cell phone for help. Now that all The Avengers know each other do you have to come up with excuses for why Tony Stark wouldn’t reach out when he needs a hand?
Feige: It’s a good question, and it’s sort of half and half. I am betting that like the comics you don’t have to keep…if you are reading a standalone Iron Man comic, they don’t spend every page explaining where every other Marvel hero is. The audience kind of accepts that there are times when they’re on their own and there are times when they are together. I’m betting that movie audiences will feel the same way. That being said, there is a little bit of lip service here and there to that. There is also just the very nature of Tony wants to, once he barely survives that house attack you saw today, and even you saw it in the message he left for Pepper, he’s basically saying “I’m going off the grid to try to figure something out.”
Does he know that Phil Coulson is alive and on S.H.I.E.L.D.?
Feige: Does Tony know that? No.
Since the last time we spoke one of the big things that’s happened in the Marvel universe is that James Gunn has come on to Guardians of the Galaxy. When can we hear more about that and what should we tell people to expect at this point?
Feige: I don’t know when you’re running all these articles. I would say that I hope that we will have some casting announcements in the next 3 to 4 weeks. That would be the next thing you hear about, is the cast. We start filming at the end of June in London.
A lot of us are really big fans of your work and we’re very excited that you got the keys to this Ferrari, can you talk a little bit about making this film and just what it was like to be able to take on Iron Man 3? And when did you know that you would make sure part of it was set at Christmas?
Black: That just evolved oddly enough, it just seemed to organically come out of planning a story that took him to a different place and left him stranded in the snow. I don’t know if I have the keys, I have the keys but, you know, at some point there’s a course you have to run, which is to say, you can’t take it anywhere you want. You can’t open it up on Main Street and then go 150 miles an hour, but what can happen is you find ways without going back to my old bag of tricks. I’m saying it’s like a comic doing…they say, “You can’t do the midnight show, you’re doing this for the local church group, its 8 o’clock and were serving stew. So can you please tone it down and just leave out the blue material?” So I had to find innovative ways to be less of, “They fuck you at the drive through.”
Feige: I don’t think Shane knew the difference between a PG-13 and an R, frankly. We would say, “Shane, you can’t really do that.” “You can’t?” “No.”
Well, you do call a little kid a pussy.
Feige: Well, it’s not like we’re completely backing off that tone. And, by the way, in maybe I think the first assembly I was like “Shane, we’re not going to be able to say that.” There was another insult that he has later in the movie and I said, “You keep that one, we’re not going to be able to say pussy.” Shane, to his credit, said “Let’s leave it in the test screening.” It was the first test screening we did, the audience, as you guys did today, went crazy for the curse word, crazy for it, and nearly burned down the theater on the second one, which I had not predicted. So we took out the second one and left that one in.
Are there other characters that Marvel has that you have an affinity for? A lot of us are wondering when maybe Marvel might make an R-rated movie and that might be where you could use some of the “blue material”. I’m just curious if you have an affinity for other characters.
Black: I don’t know I always thought that certain characters could be adapted in a cool way. I wanted to do…Quentin Tarantino kind of poisoned the well with Django, but I always thought there was a 1970’s version of Black Panther, which was [a] period that could be really cool and involved a lot of the racial tensions of that time. That’s not going to happen. Other Marvel movies that I really loved, or marvel comics growing up, God, mostly just the typical ones. “Nick Fury Agent of Shield” the Strenko years. But you can’t do them because Sam Jackson is 60 years old and he plays this sort of patriarchal figure now, but Nick Fury was what I adored growing up. If you ever read the ones [Jim] Sterenko did for “Tales of Suspense” followed by “Nick Fury” standalone 1-8, some of the best comics ever made.
What was the most physically challenging thing to do on the film? Was it the sky diving or can you describe what happens without giving the plot point away?
Black: The most physically challenging thing is that everything involving these suits flying is either on wires where you’ve got to take forever to rig somebody or it’s invisible. So there’s a guy on wires and he turns and gets hit by an invisible thing that throws him backwards and you have to match everything and nothing’s there. So in the editing room it’s constantly vexing to me. On Kiss Kiss Bang Bang we’d show up on the day and we would say, “Alright, we’re doing an action scene, the car crashes, where do we go?” You couldn’t do that. You can’t show up on the day and say “Okay he jumps of the tower and the building explodes, let’s begin.” You have to have it so meticulously planned in advance. The invisibility factor was for me the daunting thing of not knowing where anything is because it’s all just going to be there later.
Feige: Were still very much in the visual effects phase of this film, but there have been a handful of times as we sit in the screening room for hours and hours going through effects shots and Shane goes, “Wait, that looks real. I didn’t think it would look that good.” I said, “What do you think we’re doing? Of course it’s going to look that good.” “Huh, it looks real.”
Black: All it takes to piss them off too, Victoria [Alonso] the special effects girl will sit next to us and I’ll say “Wow, that’s a great cartoon. That’s a really good cartoon.” And she just goes nuts. But, no, the effects look real, photo-real. I’m very surprised.
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Here’s the official synopsis for Iron Man 3:
Marvel’s “Iron Man 3″ pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?