Speaking exclusively to SciFiNow, Marvel Studios boss and Iron Man 3 executive producer Kevin Fiege revealed how the film’s amazing Air Force One stunt came to be, and what links the Red Bull Stunt Team to Hasbro’s Barrel Of Monkeys…
“Our writers had a great idea,” explains Fiege, “which played to the theme of putting Tony in a situation that you don’t know how he’s going to get out of. Shane and Drew’s idea was basically to throw 13 people out of an airplane and have Jarvis tell Tony he can only carry four of them. So how in the world, as they’re plummeting to their death, is Iron Man going to be able to save them all?
“And they came up with this notion of Barrel Of Monkeys, this Hasbro game, where you connect all the monkeys together and see how many of these little plastic monkeys you can latch together by their fingers. And Tony begins to fly down and begins to grab onto people and tells those people to grab onto the next person. And suddenly with this great show of teamwork, you have 13 people all latched onto each other, with Iron Man blowing his repulsors to stop their fall.
“We didn’t know if it was going to work. We did storyboards for it and some pre-vis for it and started to realize this could be really cool. This is going to be great. We wanted to see how he’s going to get out of this. And the discussion was how are we going to film this? Our second unit director Brian Smrz and our stunt team said, ‘Why don’t we just throw 13 people out of a plane and film it?’
“Over eight days, with ten jumps a day, that’s exactly what happened. So that sequence, which is one of the showcase sequences of the film, is practical, with the exception of Iron Man, of course, and a few certain shots. This amazing Red Bull stunt team jumped out of a plane, time and time again, day after day, and fell as if they were plummeting to their death, grabbing onto each other.
“In our movies, there are certain things that you can do for real and there are certain things that that you do with CG. And while we love CG and we’d never be able to make a movie without it, if there’s something that you can do practically, it’s usually better to attempt to do it that way. This was by far the biggest practical stunt scene we’ve ever done in any of our films, bigger than anything in the previous Iron Man films and bigger than anything in The Avengers.”