“He was also a lifeline for me”: Robert Downey Jr. ‘Betraying’ Terrence Howard is Hard to Believe After What Iron Man 3 Director Revealed About the Actor

Robert Downey Jr. and Shane Black’s symbiotic relationship stretches much deeper than we realize!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the one great love and the only 3 words in the world to trump anything in its path. As such, the story of Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr., the rage, and the charisma of the MCU’s origin point were all products of exciting times in the movie industry. However, Robert Downey Jr. is not the only person whose life was saved by Marvel.

Iron Man

As a by-product of the interconnected universe with overlapping plotlines and merging storylines, the MCU quickly became a hunting ground for the creation of original ideas, even if its comic book source remained a heavy influence in each subsequent project.

Robert Downey Jr. Helped MCU Get Back on Track

It is a story well known that Robert Downey Jr. – the Godfather of MCU – was a towering figure who overshadowed and obliterated every article about the actor and his tremendous comeback. However, contrary to popular belief, Iron Man isn’t the first film that redeemed him after his sordid battle with addiction It was Shane Black’s neo-noir black comedy crime caper, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]

Following the unsurprising success of MCU Phase I, the addition of further sequels was only a matter of when and not if. As such, by the time 2010 rolled around and Robert Downey Jr. was already suffering blowback from Iron Man 2, the actor reached out to an old friend to help resurrect the fan-favorite IP once again.

From this reunion was born the Christmas extravaganza full of spectacle, explosion, and romance – Iron Man 3.

Robert Downey Jr. Paid Shane Black Back in Kind

After Shane Black suffered a career slump in the mid-90s during the peak of his screenwriter era, his reputation as the most in-demand and expensive screenwriter in Hollywood swiftly dwindled. Taking to alcohol and substances, his downward journey was not too dissimilar to that of Robert Downey Jr.

Iron Man 3 [Credit: Marvel Studios]

Almost a decade-long hiatus later, Black’s return to the frontlines as a director with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang backfired once again after the film failed to become commercially successful despite an 89% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The blowback on Black’s reputation was significant, leading him down a darker path toward self-destruction, involving guns, cocaine-fueled meltdowns, and court battles.

On the other hand, Robert Downey Jr.’s eccentric role in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang caught the eye of Jon Favreau who ended up casting him in Iron Man based on his performance in the movie. In an interview with Joe Rogan, the Marvel actor ended up referring to Shane Black as a “lifeline” saying:

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is, I think, in some ways the best film I’ve ever done. It wound up being a calling card. It came out, and it bombed, but Jon Favreau saw it, and he said, ‘This guy could do an action movie.’ And so that wound up being my calling card into the Marvel Universe.

5 years after the premiere of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the Iron Man star sought out Black to make his CBM industry debut with Iron Man 3. Fortunately for the director, the offer not only came at an opportune time but ended up saving Shane Black’s career, and quite possibly his life. Black later revealed in an interview with Independent:

He was also a lifeline for me. No doubt. He called me out of the blue. I was doing rewrite work on a movie called Battle: Los Angeles and was struggling with a spec script.

His phone call put me on a level where I was suddenly working with a lot of money, a lot of great people again. Just like that. He had the faith to offer that to me and I gave everything to that picture.

Since then, Black has been back in the saddle once again as a writer and director. The critical and commercial success of Iron Man 3, which raked in $1.2 billion at the box office [via The Numbers], directly led to him receiving offers from Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox for The Nice Guys and The Predator respectively.

Iron Man 3 is available for streaming on Disney+.

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