Before the success of Iron Man 3, Shane Black was best known as the smartass screenwriter whose snappy, self-aware dialogue produced one blockbuster action series (Lethal Weapon), a couple of flops (The Long Kiss Goodnight, Last Action Hero), and one very of-its-time Tony Scott movie (The Last Boy Scout; the guy has a thing for the letter “l”). For many years, he seemed—like Joe Eszterhas—to have been left behind by a Hollywood that had moved beyond the era of the $1 million single-credit screenplay, and into the age of lucrative, cross-platform franchises. His directorial debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, seemed like his last hurrah; produced 9 years after his last Hollywood credit, the movie barely made back its slim budget, and was followed by years of apparent inactivity. (It has since acquired a much deserved cult following.)

Fortunately, the star of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Robert Downey, Jr., ended up making a movie called Iron Man a couple of years later, and when it came time to find a director for Iron Man 3, the job fell to Black. Now, having directed a movie that grossed over $1 billion internationally, Black is getting back to a project that he probably couldn’t get off the ground just a couple of years ago: The Nice Guys, a hard-boiled detective story set in 1970s Los Angeles.


Variety reports that The Nice Guys will star Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as couple of gumshoes named Jackson Healy and Holland March (it doesn’t specify which is which), who get hired to investigate a porn star’s suicide and end up uncovering “a far-reaching murder conspiracy, bizarrely rooted in smog and the U.S. auto industry.” The script, which Black co-wrote with Anthony Bagarozzi, was previously performed in a staged reading at the Austin Film Festival in 2011.