The just-released Iron Man 3 trailer picks up after the Avengers save the world from Loki and Tony Stark's crashing hard. "Nothing's been the same since New York," admits Tony. And that's before Mandarin (played by Ben Kingsley) sets to work destroying Iron Man's world.
If Iron Man 3 is as good as the trailer suggests it could be, then writer/director Shane Black will have managed to make it all the way back from one of Hollywood's epic career flameouts. Consider the hottest screenwriter in the business after Lethal Weapon, Black's career fell apart after audiences thought The Last Action Hero was too weird and that film's less-than-expected box office proved to be the first domino to fall as Arnold Schwarzenegger's career came unraveled. He got no credit for the awesome The Long Kiss Goodnight, which starred Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson in one of the most imaginative buddy cop plots ever.
Black's long road back coincides with Robert Downey Jr.'s first steps to career recover after Downey's own troubles. Black wrote and directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a low-budget modern-day film noir that's one of the great Los Angeles movies. Downey's performance alongside Val Kilmer is one of his best and it convinced Marvel to give him a chance in the first Iron Man. Downey has now repaid the favor in bringing Black on board for Iron Man 3, much like Daniel Craig remembered the break Sam Mendes gave him in The Road to Perdition and convinced the studio to hire his old director to make Skyfall.
Marvel continues to show great imagination when it hires directors: Jon Favreau, Joe Johnston, Kenneth Branagh and J.J. Abrams aren't necessarily the guys who come to mind when you're thinking about action pictures. And, yet, Marvel knows how to make the action scenes work and we get superheroes who show a surprising amount of character development. Here's hoping Iron Man 3 continues that success.