Iron Man 3 director Shane Black recently reflected on how Christmas is involved in many of his films, including the divisive third Iron Man film.

Unlike the first two installments, Iron Man 3 explicitly takes place in the Christmas season. The director discussed his intention behind this choice, as well as the Christmas Carol themes that permeate the sequel.

“I didn’t want Christmas to feel like a gimmick, or something that was predictable, or ostentatious on my part,” Black told Empire. “It started out as fun, and as soon as people noticed it, it stopped being fun. But I acquiesced largely because of the Christmas Carol aspect of it. Tony loses his support, loses his base, he’s adrift in Mid-America. And he’s not going to be visited by ghosts, but he’s certainly going to be in the middle of a reckoning, or a reconciliation, where he has to take stock, figure out what’s troubling him, and how he’s going to continue. It worked out well for the ending.

The coda is basically him at Christmas, giving a gift to his fiancée, and giving a gift to a little kid who helped him. And there’s a Christmas miracle when Jon Favreau’s character comes out of a coma. There’s something about it, where you can get dark and dark and dark, as harsh as you want, and then summon up a little Christmas, and it gives you that pleasant out that you’re looking for.”

“Plagued with worry and insomnia since saving New York from destruction, Tony Stark , now, is more dependent on the suits that give him his Iron Man persona — so much so that every aspect of his life is affected, including his relationship with Pepper,” reads Iron Man 3‘s synopsis. “After a malevolent enemy known as the Mandarin reduces his personal world to rubble, Tony must rely solely on instinct and ingenuity to avenge his losses and protect the people he loves.”

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