Tony Stark in Iron Man 3

Shane Black Explains Why Iron Man 3 Is Set at Christmas

The holiday season is upon us, and Marvel already has a festive entry on the way with the Disney+ Hawkeye series, but it’s not the franchise’s first. Iron Man 3 is a Christmas movie, something that is somehow a point of conflict with fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe even though the movie literally has Tony saying “Merry Christmas” to Pepper Potts, but whatever.

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It’s a good movie, one that I like a lot and it gets a bad name for whatever reason. Maybe people just want to brush it off because they don’t like Tony Stark or what have you, but the movie itself is a great addition to the Marvel world and set the tone for the rest of Tony’s character arc. But now, director Shane Black is talking about the inspiration for the film.

Finally, we got an answer in Tara Bennett and Paul Terry’s book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In an interview in the book, Black said the following: “It creates its own little encapsulated event in time. In the same way you go see one of these disaster films, you set up all these people together in this town where the ‘volcano’ is about to explode. Christmas bands together and cements a story. You feel like there’s a common unity among all the people in it. It’s just something [audiences] constantly notice in the background. It represents a flavor, and there is a sense that ‘We are all in it together.'”

And he’s right. It is what makes Iron Man 3 so special to me. Setting it at Christmas makes even the darker parts of Iron Man 3 magical in a way that might have just been brushed aside otherwise. When Tony is trapped in a small town with Harley Keener and it is snowing, it just feels like that holiday movie tension we’ve come to know and love in our Christmas movies, and it works for where Tony Stark was, emotionally.

The last we had seen of him was The Avengers. He sacrificed himself to try to save the world, barely surviving, and it had ramifications on Tony’s mental health. So, having a movie of self-discovery and taking time away from his problems to try to center himself? That just fits, at least for me, as a Christmas movie, and I’m glad that Shane Black clearly thought the same thing.

Black isn’t a stranger to Christmas movies, especially ones starring Robert Downey Jr. The two had worked together on Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang back in 2005, and Iron Man 3 was a wonderful return, for me, to the RDJ/Shane Black Holiday universe. But it makes sense that Black set the movie at Christmas time even if Iron Man 3 was released in May.

Anyway, celebrate the holiday season by watching Iron Man 3 because it is a good movie and a great Christmas time flick, and that is a hill I’m willing to die on.

(via ScreenRant, image: Marvel Entertainment)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.