Marvel’s grand movie empire opens its ‘Phase 2’ plans with, ‘Iron Man 3′, which sees the affable super-person Robert Downey Jr. return for the 5th time as his robotic alter-ego, in what is both the darkest and funniest installment yet. Out is the director/actor from the previous two outings, Jon Favreau, and in comes long-time Downey Jr. collaborator, Shane Black, the man behind the likes of ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ , and ‘Lethal Weapon’. Black offers more than just the cutting wit of Stark that we’ve seen beforehand, tackling his worries that have haunted him since ‘New York’ (the end of last year’s mega-blockbuster ‘The Avengers’).
He’s not slept in weeks, devotes his time solely towards developing his suit and ignores women, Tony Stark has come a long way since the original film five years ago. A withdrawn mess, Downey Jr. has made and broken this character, there have been talks about him leaving the role for a while, and whilst I COULD maybe see a James Bond ‘refresher’ every now and then, for now Stark IS Robert Downey Jr, and noone else.
He stars again in this, which, whilst looking at reviews, I see is a bit of a Marmite film, especially for devoted comic book fans. I loved it, appreciated the clarity of the humour, the extravagant storyline and the twists and turns that come with it. Tony Stark confronts a new villain, the Mandarin directly, calling him out to and demanding he leave his nation alone. No spoilers here, it’s all in the trailers, the Mandarin responds by dispatching a couple of helicopters to relief Stark of his home, and perhaps even his duty?
Sir Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin is a great casting choice. He’s menacing and chews up the scenery with his vitriolic monologues. As he and his team hijack communications across the world, you get the feeling this guy means business. Guy Pearce as scientist Aldrin Killian, is in league with the Mandarin, helping to supply him with the drug Extremis, which grants the user powers, and regeneration skills, something which is never really explained in full and something which we could really do with. Pearce himself is building a reputation as a master of disguise, seen in the flashback to 1999 as Killian, a nerdy, crooked scientist shunned by Stark’s womanizing former self, before the discovery of Extremis sees him take on the role of an executive of a shady company. He’s dark and mysterious, but has an intensity about him, plus you get the feeling he REALLY hates Stark!
The other cast members aren’t given that much time to initiate themselves. Don Cheadle is sort of shunned into being the ‘Iron Patriot’, Gwyneth Paltrow annoys me as Pepper Potts, but is given more action scenes to semi-justify her presence and Rebecca Hall isn’t utilized whatsover, disappointing given her talents.
The action itself is quite cool, without being wildly original or innovative. Stark brings in a band of suits to help him out during the climatic scenes, the airplane rescue is good and dramatic. It’s all just standard. In fact, the majority of the things I liked were those you wouldn’t have expected to see. Stark’s relationship with a boy he meets after he effectively loses EVERYTHING. His house, his girlfriend, his suit, everything. He has to rekindle everything in order to defeat his foe, something we haven’t seen since the first tale, and a refreshing change. The kid is hilarious, and it feels like he and Downey Jr are a father-son team in the making.
Other little add-on’s: the film’s one-liners are both incredulous and incredible, at times it feels like a Will Ferrell movie, not one of the biggest action movies of the summer! One in particular, as a stealthy Stark battles through the Mandarin’s HQ and encounters his bodyguards made me laugh a lot. The end credits, themselves, are excellent, an ode to comic book’s themselves, and the after-credits scene is humourous, if not a little bit pointless.
In fact, the only thing I wanted a little bit more of was involvement from the other Avengers in the ‘Marvel Universe’. Where were Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, even Samuel L. Jackson and his gang, when Stark was going through the mill?! Whilst the last little scene was a nod towards those characters and the several mentions of the others during the film may have kept some satisfied, I wanted a little bit more. But with their own standalone films upcoming, we’ll see enough of each, and maybe even a couple of cameos? Who knows.
So, ‘Iron Man 3′, is a good film, better than ‘2′, maybe not better than the first, middling somewhere in-between. It’s got the best opening song to a film EVER (okay slight over-exaggeration but once you’ve seen it come back and don’t deny you don’t agree!), a solid enough plot, some good twists, humour galore and an intriguing start to the next generation of Marvel films.