In the aftermath of Loki’s attack on New York, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) finds that his experience with the Avengers left a lasting impression. Meanwhile, a new threat to Iron Man’s world arises in the form of The Mandarin, and some of Tony’s old friends and enemies return.
It is fairly safe to say that Iron Man 3 is one of the most anticipated films of the year. With writer/director Shane Black on board, hopes have been high, and as it turns out, justifiably so. Shane Black has created some of the smartest and most fun actioners over the years – Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was his first outing as director, but the Lethal Weapon movies are a whole ton of fun – and Iron Man 3 does not disappoint.
Robert Downey Jr is on typical form as Tony Stark / Iron Man, but the addition of vulnerability and fear into the mix of the character was a stroke of genius. As audience members, we are so used to seeing Iron Man save the day with some good quips and one liners, that seeing Tony actually affected by something that happened to him brings a whole new level to the character. Of course, Iron Man still saves the day, but the bravado of the character now seems to be covering some deep emotional pain, pain that even the trauma of becoming Iron Man didn’t instil in the character.
The villains take the form of Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). There is some brilliant menace thrown into both characters, but one covers it up and another puts it on. No spoilers, but The Mandarin’s story arc is incredibly entertaining and another twist that reminds us of how clever these films can actually be. Rebecca Hall turns up as scientist Maya Hansen, but does not have a whole lot to do, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts finally outgrows her damsel in distress role, and Don Cheadle’s brief time on screen is fun and funny, as usual.
Writers Shane Black and Drew Pearce spend as much time deconstructing Iron Man as building him up, and this not only gives us a deeper understanding of the character, but also gives the audience an arc to follow and root for. That said, it is this deconstruction that leads to a lull in the middle of the film; it is great to see Iron Man alone and vulnerable, but this also allows the film to sag and drag in places. Politics take a back seat to good old-fashioned revenge in the film, and the villains take a leaf from Doctor No’s book and make good use of swivel chairs.
Visually, the 3D is unnecessary, as usual, but it is not distracting. The set pieces are violent and loud, which is exactly what you want from an Iron Man film and there are moments throughout which will have fans of the franchise clapping their hands with sheer glee.
Iron Man 3 is loud, bright and highly entertaining. Black’s trademark humour and obsession with Christmas are all present and correct, as are the action sequences, the danger and the romance. This film could perfectly wrap up the Iron Man franchise to allow phase 2 of the Avengers arc to include more heroes, but since Iron Man 3 is so clever and fun, it is doubtful this will happen, even though RDJ has hinted he may hang up his armour. In all, Iron Man 3 is all that we hoped for and a little bit more, the only problem is some strange pacing and a lack of action for the second act of the film.