Shane Black Talks 'Iron Man 3,' 'Death Note' and 'Long Kiss Good Night' TV Series

As a last minute addition to the Long Beach Comic-Con panel of speakers, Iron Man 3 director Shane Black covered topics ranging from comic centric questions to how he began working in film, and humbly accepted praise for prior work like Kiss, Kiss Bang, Bang and Lethal Weapon. From the hour and half long discussion came nuggets of information as Black touched on Iron Man 3, an American adaptation of the hit Japanese anime/manga Death Note, and continuing his 1996 Geena Davis-Samuel L. Jackson action-drama The Long Kiss Good Night as a potential cable TV series.

'Iron Man 3,' CGI and Jon Favreau
While Black remained coy with details about the third Iron Man, he shared his general thoughts about shooting in CGI. A fan of physical sets, Black talked extensively about how he didn't want the movie to feel cartoon-y like the second movie and, in his opinion, the third act of Captain America. He also sympathized with actors who've worked on movies that were predominantly green screened, saying that the lack of a physical set subtracts from an actor's performance.
While the principle cast of Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow will return in Iron Man 3, Black expressed a special eagerness to getting Jon Favreau, director of the first two Iron Man movies, back in front of the camera.
"I love watching Jon act. He's a great director, but whenever I see him acting, I always want more."
Black said that he and writer Drew Pearce are currently working on "some fun stuff" to bring Favreau's character back, although he wasn't as emphatic with Stan Lee's cameo.
"If I sat down to write the script and that was one of the things that was on my mind, I'd end up writing a crappy movie. My job is to make sure I write a great script and then we can go back and add in all the Easter Egg stuff that Hollywood and Marvel likes."
He also talked about ways to make the use of the Iron Man suit more practical for Downey Jr.
"Most people don't know this, but once that face plate goes down, that's all CGI."
Black lamented on how the physical Iron Man costume can often look more fake than the CGI version, calling it "plastic-y." He said that his aim is to not use CGI for cheap thrills but rather to enhance what's already on the screen.
Adapting 'Death Note'
While the project has been in the works for quite some time, Black shed some light as to why the Japanese manga/anime had not been given the green light. He detailed a struggle with Hollywood studios who wanted to soften the story and give it more mass appeal by removing elements from the original story.
Chiefly, studios wanted to remove the Shinigami (Gods of Death) and give the main character, Yagami Light, a backstory on how he became the story's villain. The backstory would focus on how his friend was murdered when he was young, and that the rage drove him to strike back once the Death Note notebook fell into his possession.
Black adamantly opposed such changes and said that the Gods of Death are still in his script and the formulaic backstory will not be in his version. He gave no target date as to when he hopes to start shooting, only stating that the movie is back on track.3
'The Long Kiss Goodnight' TV Series
One of the more random moments came when Black answered a question regarding two of his older works – Lethal Weapon and The Long Kiss Goodnight.
He first confirmed that he had no involvement in a fifth Lethal Weapon movie, if and when it ever gets made, joking that Mel Gibson was already tough to work with when he wasn't drunk. He quickly back-stepped, though, stating that Gibson was a good guy and that he was a raging drunk who needed help.
As for The Long Kiss Goodnight, Black said that he was currently piecing together a cable TV series based on the action-thriller.
While the film wasn't a huge hit when it arrived in theaters in the mid '90s, Black said that cable TV's shorter seasons make a potential series more manageable. He also said that you could get away with more on cable. While watching a recent episode of American
Horror Story, Black said he was shocked by some of the language that's allowed on basic cable.
The veteran Hollywood filmmaker closed the panel with a few profane, crude jokes about the Occupy Wall Street movement (he supports them), and stuck around to meet with fans who wanted autographs and pictures. While Iron Man 3 doesn't blast into theaters until May 3, 2013, Black looks to have plenty to keep him busy until then.
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