Character dynamics between Tony Stark and his closest allies will take center stage in next summer’s Iron Man 3, according to the movie’s creative heavyweights.
Actors Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark / Iron Man) and Don Cheadle (James Rhodes / War Machine) joined director Shane Black and producer Kevin Feige Saturday afternoon during a press conference at Comic-Con International in San Diego to answer journalists’ questions about what fans should expect when Iron Man 3 drops.
“This is a very Tony Stark-centric film, meaning not just Tony but his world,” Feige said, promising a deeper focus on Stark and Rhodes and also on Stark’s lover Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). “The first step of the grand plan with Iron Man 3 is to prove they are just as interesting, if not moreso, by themselves. Iron Man 3 by design is a very serious character study.”
According to Downey Jr., the movie will explore the friendship and rivalry between Stark and his best bud Rhodes in a way previous Iron Man installments haven’t. Fans can also expect more of Stark’s recklessness.
Now that The Avengers is done, Iron Man 3 will set the stage for the next wave of Marvel Studios movies while it stays true to its roots as a standalone superhero film.
“We also try to be practical, in a post-Avengers world, what are his challenges now and what are some of the limitations that are going to be placed on him?” Downey Jr. said. “And what sort of threat would have him, as usual, ignore those limitations?”
But will Iron Man 3 struggle to step out of the shadow of the larger-than-life action of The Avengers? Feige and Black said they aimed for a different and fresh tone with this upcoming film, not making it bigger and flashier.
Recently, however, many fans have found Iron Man’s gold armor too flashy, which Black thinks is odd. “I also find it really interesting that there are actually fans today who have anger that the suit was gold. I mean, of all the things in the world to be angry about.”
Cheadle said Iron Man’s armor is stunning in the movie, and that War Machine will suit up in different versions of his own armor. “It’s fun to see those things sort of morph and shift, and the Iron Man suit is really spectacular in this movie, the innovation that’s happened with it.”
Cheadle kept mum on what the innovation entailed, but Downey Jr. said he liked the “suit envy” between their two characters in the Marvel Comics stories. The panel noted that while War Machine operated for the government, Iron Man was an independent Stark Industries creation, hinting at possible government-corporate friction in Iron Man 3.
Panelists often delivered their news with humor, and the camaraderie between them shined through. Downey Jr. jokingly asked the press if they had any questions for Captain Planet, referencing Cheadle’s hilarious performance as the environmental superhero in a spoof viral video from earlier this year.
At one point Downey Jr. asked Cheadle directly, “What were you thinking?” for taking part in the video, and Cheadle replied, “I honestly wasn’t thinking,” to much audience laughter.
Feige said that choosing Black to direct Iron Man 3 was a great move because Black’s a stellar storyteller, and Downey Jr. praised him as well, noting their work together on the action-comedy Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Black had no problem following the cinematic tone that Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau established.
“I think that the main thing is, Shane’s storytelling and the kind of emotional depth that happens without taking the stuff too seriously is kind of what Jon set up,” Downey Jr. said.
Favreau balanced thrilling action with comedy and the romance between Stark and Potts, and Black’s taking that ball and running with it.
“He established the precedent of espionage, high-tech kind of Top Gun-style thrills coupled with romantic comedy in a strange way, and it’s always been a mainstay of these movies,” Black said.
The final question came from a child dressed up as a mini-Tony Stark, who asked Downey Jr. what it was like being a hero.
Downey, warmed by the boy’s words, shared an anecdote about a time when he saw children dressed as Iron Man and War Machine for a photo shoot, and what it meant to him.
“You just go, ‘Wow, what a great opportunity,’” Downey Jr. said. “It’s just an odd thing. I take it as seriously as Shakespeare.”