I wrote about how it baffles me that writers don’t get the appreciation that movie directors do, particularly in movies. To address this issue I will be taking a writer and shining a light on their work and how effective they have been in bringing some of Hollywood’s best movies to the screen.
Shane Black seems to specialise in the movie double-act. His most recent movie, The Nice Guys, brought together the unlikely but perfect pairing of Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. This isn’t the first time he has written a perfect pairing however and he is responsible for one of movie’s best team-up.
Shane Black wrote Lethal Weapon. He is the man who invented a suicidal cop with nothing to live for and then partnered him up with the ageing detective and family man who just wants to reach retirement. Not only did he devise a concept fresh with potential but also wrote some amazing dialogue. The action sequences will always be what Lethal Weapon is remembered for but what people keep wanting to see is the arguments but mutual respect between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover’s characters and that is down to Black.
This was his first pairing but wouldn’t be his last. At the center of his best work is a mismatch couple. The Last Boy Scout, an underrated 90s action thriller, paired Damon Wayans shamed footballer with private detective Bruce Willis. The Long Kiss Goodnight saw Samuel L Jackson helping a kick-ass Geena Davis, while Robert Downey Jr, pre-Iron Man, helped Val Kilmer’s detective solve a murder in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. These are all decent enough action comedy thrillers but it is the well-written dialogue and fantastic characters that makes the movies so successful.
Even when the pairing isn’t obvious, Black knows this is what makes good movies, particularly ones he is writing, so even when it isn’t a detective/murder mystery, there is still an effective double-act. Arnie’s failed action comedy Last Action Hero saw him team-up with a teenage film fan and Black repeated that formula with Iron Man 3, some of the best moments was when Tony Stark was helped by a young boy who found an injured Iron Man in his garden.
The fact that Black has been handed the keys to one of the Marvel Universe’s biggest vehicles is testament to his writing skill. Downey Jr’s Stark was never better in Iron Man 3 and it felt like a good star-vehicle and reinvigorated a part of the Cinematic Universe that had fallen stale with Iron Man 2.
Although we are focusing on his writing skills, Shane Black is becoming a very good director, with four major movies under his belt and all of them solid action flicks. From Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, through to Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and this year’s The Nice Guys, Black is showing that he talents for writing stretch to how well he views a movie on-screen too.
That is why it is no surprise that Black is helming two big franchises of his own. He is currently writing classic comic strip hero Doc Savage for the big screen and then will deliver another version of The Predator. I wouldn’t be surprised if you find a comedy pairing at the center of both those movies though.
Overall, Shane Black is an effective, talented movie writer who has given cinema some of the great pairings and double-teams. His legacy will ultimately be Lethal Weapon (and it’s sequels) but add to this a Marvel movie and some new, big money franchises, and you could have a very effective director in Hollywood too.