In the Director’s Seat: Shane Black

In the Director’s Seat: Shane Black

It doesn’t take long to realize you are watching a movie written by Shane Black. The timing is usually close to Christmas. The characters have an amazing rapport with one another. The dialogue is rich and engaging. And before you even know it, you are in the grip of a labyrinthine story and there is no backing out.

In 1987, Shane penned Lethal Weapon, a movie that has come to define the “Buddy Cop Genre” and, although he also wrote a script for Lethal Weapon 2, it was discarded as being “too violent.” The studio didn’t appreciate him killing off Martin Riggs (played by Mel Gibson). Still, the film earned him a well-deserved $250 000.


After a two-year sabbatical, he wielded the mighty pen once more and this time his screenplay for The Last Boy Scout (Bruce Willis, Damon Wayans) earned him a respectable $1,75 million. He followed this up with Last Action Hero (Arnold Schwarzenegger, F. Murray Abraham) for another cool $1 million.

But it was The Long Kiss Goodnight (Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson) that highlighted how talented a writer he was when it broke all records by being the first script ever to be sold for more than $3 million!

shane black
SOURCE: San Diego Comic-Con/Getty Images

Finally Behind the Camera

In 2005, he wrote — and directed — Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, for which he received the Best Original Screenplay award from the San Diego Film Critics Association. If you haven’t seen it yet, then do yourself a favor and declare this Friday, ‘Home Movie Night.’

His characters are alive. They are real. They face danger with trepidation just like we do. They laugh, they cry, they act — all like regular people would. They are not gung-ho and bulletproof. They are soft and squishy, and most of the time, they are in way over their heads.

CREDIT: Marvel Studios/Iron Man 3

Now With Marvel

Directed by Shane Black, this masterpiece rounds out the Top 10 of the highest-grossing comic book films of all time and is Number 19 among all movies…ever. Despite fans of the Mandarin being less than enthralled with his treatment of said villain, it still remains one of the most iconic twists ever in any Marvel film.

We also get to see Tony at his most vulnerable, suffering anxiety attacks. Black makes use of Tony’s past to craft a solid believable version of the character. His buddy scenes with Rhodey are exceptional, which allowed Don Cheadle to shine when they face danger face-to-face with no suits of armor to protect them.

However, the “Oscar” goes to Ty Simpkins. As Harley Keener, or as the internet knows him “the Kid from Iron Man 3,” he manages to steal both our and Tony’s heart with his iconic line “Dad went to the 7-11 to buy scratchers. He must have won, ’cause that was six years ago.”

CREDIT: Marvel Studios/Iron Man 3

In Closing

Though he has a very formulaic style, he manages to craft believable, likable characters every single time he puts pen to paper. The dialogue never feels forced and the exposition is seamlessly integrated. After his most recent project The Predator, it seems he is done with big franchises and their interference.

In an interview recently he said, “It’s time to do something really quirky and risky and odd. So, I’m going to get a little odd and see what comes of it.” I for one, can’t wait to see what that will be.



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