The Truth Revealed Behind Why 'Iron Man 3' is Set During Christmas
Having just seen Shane Black's Iron Man 3, one of my favorite things about is the Christmas-time setting, which both works as a plot element (a ticking clock to Christmas) as well as an indirect connect to Black's past work. While this was well hidden in the trailers, once audiences started seeing it, initial thoughts were that Shane Black had something to do with it as part of rewriting the script and making it his own. That is somewhat true, but the complete story has now come out, thanks to SlashFilm, who compiled a series of quotes from the recent press events. Black does confirm it helped the plot, but that it wasn't even his idea.
The screenplay for Iron Man 3 is credited to writers Drew Pearce ("No Heroics", Pacific Rim) and Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Lethal Weapon Series, The Monster Squad, Last Action Hero). Both spoke at press events, but it was Pearce who confirmed that it was his idea more than anything. "If I was going to go see an Iron Man 3 movie, it was going to have to be at Christmas," Pearce said. "But there's always a reason for it as well." Before Drew explains, here's what Shane Black had to say when asked at the press conference:
"Well it just sort of evolved oddly enough in Iron Man 3, because I had resisted it. It was [co-screenwriter] Drew [Pearce] who taught me… I think it's a sense of if you're doing something on an interesting scale that involves an entire universe of characters, one way to unite them is to have them all undergo a common experience. There's something at Christmas that unites everybody and it already sets a stage within the stage, that wherever you are, you're experiencing this world together. I think that also there's something just pleasing about it to me. I mean I did LETHAL WEAPON back in '87 and Joe liked it so much he put Die Hard at Christmas and there was some fun to that. So, look, you don't have to do every film that way."
Of course not, but it works surprisingly well for Iron Man 3, especially with Shane at the helm and after so many other movies/adventures with Tony Stark already. Seeing one set around an actual holiday made this one feel quite a bit different, and they used that to their advantage. Pearce explains his reason: "There's something about Christmas as well, like when you're telling a story about taking characters apart, it almost has more resonance if you put it at Christmas and if you're also telling a story about lonelier characters as well. That loneliness is heightened at Christmas." Indeed. The conversation between went on a bit more.
Black continues: "It's a time of reckoning for a lot of people, when you take stock of how you got to where you are now and lonely people are lonelier at Christmas and you tend to notice things more acutely, I think." Pearce adds: "Plus there was a kind of Christmas coward sense we wanted to bring in for Tony as well, a certain sense..." Black then interjected: "Meaning 'the ghost of Christmas past' in the sense that Harley [played by Ty Simpkins] is kind of him as a young boy, just encountering all these things that come to him almost like a fevered dream when he's at his lowest point. I think that was the idea as well." Which is a very interesting concept to play with in an Iron Man film, but that's why there is something very unique about it.
For reference, Black also spoke to Scotsman.com last week. His reply to where does the Christmas obsession come from? "I'm not sure. I think it's just a universal leveler, an almost magical backdrop that invites a hush, momentary time-out in people's lives... And to have to dig for bits of Christmas and find that magic in the midst of the tumult has a real psychological resonance for me." Referencing the ghost of Christmas past connection, he adds that "we actually started talking about this as A Christmas Carol episode of Iron Man."