"You won't have that question for us after 'Captain America 2,'" Kevin Feige said. "You'll see. S.H.I.E.L.D. has been busy."
From the moment they sat down to the moment I left the room, Kevin Feige was smiling. Sometimes more than other times, but always smiling. And why not? Phase One of the Marvel Universe movies, one of the most ambitious commercial plans of all time, is in the books and up on the shelf and they pulled it off. They did what they set out to do, and they succeeded in a way that even the most generous best-case scenarios wouldn't have guessed possible.
In "Iron Man 3," Marvel has an enormously confident first step for Phase Two of the Marvel Universe films, and the hiring of Shane Black was a major part of making this such a strong and personal-feeling way to launch the next wave of character movies. When I asked them my enormously nerdy first question at the press day, I tried to keep it very short and simple and direct.
"Where is S.H.I.E.L.D.?"
I think the movie has a great sense of momentum, and for the most part, I was never bothered by the idea that the larger universe seems to be rolling on with no one else aware that anything's wrong despite national TV broadcasts being interrupted, terrorist actions in public places, and the complete destruction of Tony Stark's house by the same people who then assault a fairly prominent target with the whole world watching. I bought it during the movie. But enough people asked me the question after the screening that I decided to put the question directly to the two men who are arguably most responsible for the answer to the question.
I wish I'd had a lot more time with Black, who is at an exciting place right now as a filmmaker. He's built his skill set, he's done the right thing by the studios, and he can pull it all together in a very compelling way. He's ready to start making some great movies, and he attacks "Iron Man 3" like he's got something to prove. This is a young man's movie, aggressive and intentionally oddball in some key ways.
We also talked about keeping secrets, and to Marvel's credit, they managed to keep several big secrets on this film totally quiet. Whether I want to learn things or not, if information is out there, it crosses my inbox at some point. In the case of this film, much of what you've read is either half-right or not right at all, and the real secrets that lie at the heart of what Black is doing are still secret despite the film already playing in front of international audiences. If you want to be unspoiled, that's still possible, and I consider that kind of remarkable for part three of a series that crosses over with one of the biggest films of all time.
Here's hoping a sit-down with Shane becomes an annual event as he starts making the films he really wants to make, and while this one's quick, I hope you get a sense from the chat of just what the energy is between these guys that resulted in one of the most complete things that Marvel Studios has been involved in so far.
"Iron Man 3" is in theaters May 3, 2013.