Shane Black On ‘The Nice Guys,’ Mel Gibson, And Why A Female ‘Iron Man 3’ Villain’s Gender Changed

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Shane Black is one of those people you could talk to for hours, about anything really. He fits the definition of a “raconteur.” He’d be the perfect person to be sitting next to you at the bar, but, for Black, those days are over. (And have been pretty well documented.) But here’s a guy who, if you ask him a question, he will answer it. Which, yes, leads to some pretty revealing insights: Like, say, that Black had written the villain in Iron Man 3 as a woman, but was forced to change what became Guy Pearce’s character to a man because of a toy company. (Something he makes clear had nothing to do with current Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige and was indicative of the old Marvel regime that has since changed.) Or when the subject of Mel Gibson comes up, about whom Black has strong opinions and even floats as a candidate to direct a possible Iron Man 4. As it turns out, Shane Black even has strong opinions about Paul Lynde!

Black’s new film is The Nice Guys, which premiered at Cannes over the weekend and will be in U.S. theaters this Friday. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe play two sometimes bumbling, sometimes drunk, sometimes capable private investigators who find themselves in the middle of a 1970s grand conspiracy. When I met Black at Warner Bros.’ New York offices, the first thing he told me was how he was an Uproxx reader. At first I thought maybe he was saying that kind of thing to everyone, but then he made specific remarks about some comments that were made about him, and I then believed him.

Shane Black: I read Uproxx.


I do. I don’t read your comment section. A typical Uproxx comment, “That guy Black, he fucked up Iron Man 3. He should die in a pit full of acid.” And you want to respond, but then you’ve bought in, you know?

I never read comments because they will make me feel bad.

That’s what people don’t understand, because they see filmmakers as being guys with money who hang out with movie stars and get girls, or whatever. So nothing can hurt their feelings. Just the opposite is true. These are raw nerves we’re talking about. Filmmakers are more sensitive than anybody.

For the record, I don’t think you fucked up Iron Man 3.

I wish that the fans liked it more.

I was under the impression people do like it.

I’m a people pleaser. Marvel saw so many negative things they made a whole other movie just to apologize called Hail to the King. In which they said, “No, no, the Mandarin is still alive. That wasn’t him. There’s a real Mandarin.” The only reason they made that was an apology to fans who were so angry.

But if Marvel didn’t want you to present Mandarin the way you did, they would have stopped you.

Of course, they didn’t care. But when the blowback hit, they cared.

You had to know there’d be some blowback.

No, we didn’t. We didn’t know. We all thought they’d eat it up because it never occurred to us the Mandarin is as iconic to people as, say, the Joker in Batman.

He’s not. That’s fake.

They just wanted to see the magic rings shoot lasers.

That’s probably true. But that doesn’t fit in Iron Man 3.

You’d need to take the piss out of it and explain how this can happen. In the comic books, it’s literally magic. It’s magic from outer space. I love the fans. I really want to please them.