Review: Iron Man 3
While coping with the mental trauma and uncertainty in the world caused by the events in New York (see The Avengers)¸ Tony Stark finds himself unable to sleep and most vulnerable. Past digressions come back to haunt him, as a powerful enemy with new weaponized technology emerges to threaten his existence and life of the woman whom he cares about most.
Who’s in It?
Robert Downey Jr. returns as Iron Man, and Gwyneth Paltrow gets a great deal of screen time as Pepper Potts. Don Cheadle is the newly rebranded Iron Patriot, while Jon Favreau is head of security at Stark Industries. Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley are newcomers, both sinister and rightfully humourous.
Tony Stark has a problem; thankfully it’s not any of the ones that plagued the second installment in this Marvel superhero franchise, Iron Man 2, a film that was a disjointed and relatively lackluster sequel, more a vanity profile than a sequel.
While early posters and trailer suggested an Iron Man movie that was darker and more serious, akin to Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise (everyone wants to do darker now), thankfully director Shane Black avoids that style which would be out of place in the Iron Man world. A veteran of 80’s and 90’s action films, and adept at combining adventure and wit, Black is talented and experienced enough to effectively balance absurd humour, genuine laughs, and an honest sense of peril.
Not that the fate of our titular character is ever in doubt (if you have yet to notice, this is a pretty successful franchise, and much more is coming), but in this chapter his costars are given opportunity to grow, and they aren’t necessarily immortal.
Back to his problem: Tony can’t sleep. The Avengers finale is alluded to, and Stark can’t seem to wrap his head about what happened. He struggles to stay awake, control his anxious heart, and find time to have any sort of normal interaction. What is perhaps most interesting in this vision of events (Black replaces Favreau as director) is that there is far more Tony Stark than Iron Man.
Save for an ending that is, as expected, an orgy of explosions, robots, flying, jumping, falling, and more explosions, this is a Tony Stark film. As a result, there is much more Pepper Potts, his soul mate, colleague, lover, and the only woman who can put up with him, and Paltrow is most charming (as are Cheadle and Favreau).
Stark’s obsessive nature and his cockiness get the best of him when he calls out a particularly malicious terrorist. The mysterious and mythic evildoer, known as the Mandarin (a wonderfully winking Ben Kingsley) quickly responds, destroying the Stark mansion in breathtaking fashion, endangering its inhabitants, and sending Iron Man reeling. The plot builds from there in expected Marvel world fashion, as some new technological advancement gets into the wrong hands, and threatens all of mankind or the world or Malibu or whatever.
It’s never really about the greater picture, which is why the film succeeds. The many laughs are endearing, and grounded in the reality of the film (which is not at all close to our reality), and an interlude between Stark and a young boy is an especially entertaining diversion. Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce are equally parts funny and devious, and the former may be hard to recognize in an opening flashback. The pair, as with everyone else in the film, knows the exact right tone.
Iron Man 3 is immeasurably enjoyable and satisfying, silly, yes, but savvy, if not just a bit too long. A harbinger of summer, we have something genuinely entertaining this year, at last.
Should You See It?
Of course. It’s Part One of a 20-some part summer movie series. And don’t forget to stay for after the credits. And then stick around until the lights go out, wait until the staff asks you to leave, and wait for the next movie to start just to be sure.
There are a lot of funny surprises, so I won’t spoil. But here is some braggadocio that comes back to hurt Stark: “You’re not a man. You’re nothing more than a maniac. I’m not afraid of you. No politics here: just good old fashioned revenge!”