After the huge-scale mega-hit Avengers, and a rusty sequel, Iron Man 3 had a lot to prove to audiences, most especially comic book fans. Bearing the curse of the threequel in mind, Marvel opted for a back to the basics approach, employing a new director and leading the multi-million dollar series on a new path. In the plus column, the character is wittier, the scale of the film is bigger, the action is epic and we’re treated to more of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) without the suit. On the other hand, Shane Black fails to balance the character as well as Jon Favreau did in the original. Instead, we are treated to tons of laughter and entertainment versus real depth and story. Calling Iron Man 3 a disappointment, however, would be the furthest thing from the truth. Although, it is bound to fall short of expectations, if even just a little, it’s still a great accomplishment. Of course nothing I say could, nor should it, stop audiences from flocking to see The Golden Avenger’s return to the big screen.
The Mandarin: Ladies, children, sheep… Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher. Lesson number one: Heroes, there is no such thing.
After months of build-up and an excessive amount of trailers, this overwhelmingly likeable, yet imperfect, third installment still manages to offer a number of big surprises. Whatever you think you know about the story is probably incorrect. Lethal Weapon scribe Shane Black uses a number of twists and turns as ammo against an unsuspecting audience. Expect laughter, expect action, expect metallic heroes and expect an extensive cast of reliable supporting characters. That’s really all the understanding and preparation required here.
In many ways Iron Man 3 acts as a double sequel, both to Iron Man 2 and Joss Whedon’s Avengers. It’s partially successful with carrying the spirit of The Avengers, but often loses focus of what’s important, trading a strong character driven story for a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humour. In the midst of the greatest distress Tony Stark still manages to make time for his usual verbal pirouettes, barking out quips by the minute. Those who enjoy their comic book films with a more serious tone will be impartial to the cartoonish presentation. And, yes, although the previous chapters in the Iron Man trilogy are also heavy with humour, Iron Man 3 manages to take it up a level or two. No scene escapes without the use of a one-liner, a wise crack, a sight gag or a bit of slapstick.
Tony Stark: I’m Tony Stark. I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally save the world. So why can’t I sleep?
Nevertheless, any and all crippling flaws in Iron Man 3 are hidden well behind the breathtaking state-of-the-art visual effects. The Man-in-the-Can has never looked this good. If it were possible at all, the third installment builds on from game-changing The Avengers by creating the biggest Vfx film to date. Every single bit of detailed debris is fine-tuned to create the most realistic experience. Coupled with the plausible 3D gimmickry, Iron Man 3 sets a new high standard for visuals.
Continuing directly after last year’s Avengers Assemble, billionaire playboy Tony Stark struggles to find any form of peace after saving New York City. With so many unanswered questions and realizing the possibility of further threats, Stark finds himself fighting insomnia – with most of his time spent experimenting with new suits of armour. His time for introspection is interrupted by the arrival of a new terrorist, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). The new super villain unleashes a threat against Iron Man, endangering the lives of those closest to him, including his sweetheat Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), his bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and best friend James Rhodes (Don Cheadle). And so Tony Stark dons his full metal jacket again in search of revenge and justice.
Tony Stark: Dads leave. No need to be such a pussy about it.
Iron Man 3 plays out a bit like The Stark Knight Rises. With the exception of the strong comical influences, there are many similar elements between the two films. For one, it sees our hero completely stripped from his powers, with multiple villains and subplots all woven together. It’s is by no means a copycat though. Where The Dark Knight Rises plays on doom and gloom themes, Iron Man 3 is much lighter and, probably a lot more “fun”. For better or for worse, Shane Black has dragged his filmmaking sensibilities into the third installment.
Man of Steel only had one real competitor in the summer blockbuster category. Although I have yet to see the new Superman film, I imagine that it will surpass Iron Man 3 with leaps and bounds. That’s not to say that Iron Man 3 doesn’t deserve merit. It’s a great bit of popcorn fun. It just isn’t the number one blockbuster film of the year (crossing thumbs for Superman). As the kick-starter for Marvel’s Phase Two, however, the overtly outlandish Iron Man 3 delivers and entertains.