Many claim 2008’s “Iron Man” as the resurgence of Robert Downey Jr.’s career, but the truth is it was actually the 2005 film “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” The film, which was directed by Shane Black, follows a private eye’s investigation of a homicide. So it it is fitting that Black, who helped restart Downey’s career, takes up the director’s chair for what might be the end of the Iron Man saga.
“Iron Man 3” has a lot to manage. It not only has to introduce the next phase in Marvel’s movie initiative, but it also is a sequel to two separate movies. Fortunately, “Iron Man 3” exceeds all of these expectations and manages to work around most of the problems from the previous films.
The film starts at a New Year’s Eve party in 1999, where Tony Stark (Downey) and fellow scientist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) are enjoying each other’s company before being interrupted by A.I.M.’s founder, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). Killian tries to recruit Tony for a revolutionary new project, which Tony rejects.
Flash forward to 2013, when Tony is dealing with the anxiety of the post-Avengers world. This is tearing him away from his girlfriend Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) and causing him to obsessively work on the Iron Man suits. Meanwhile, a mysterious terrorist called The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is launching attacks all across America, one of which hits a little too close to home, causing Tony to go out for revenge.
The Iron Man films have always focused on character interactions and comedy, but have consistently fallen short when it comes to action pieces. Black, who knows how to shoot an action movie, fixes this by creating a very charming and likable villain. Kingsley absolutely owns the role of The Mandarin, bringing a utter sense of glee to the dark crimes his character commits.
Meanwhile, Downey breathes new life into his now-tired role of Tony Stark, as the film focuses less on the superhero and more on the man within the suit. The events that transpire really make Stark vulnerable, something the previous two movies (three counting “The Avengers”) failed to do.
Still, the star of the film is Paltrow, who has never really stood out before. The Iron Man movies have always tried to avoid the damsel in distress cliché with mixed results, but that has all been building up to finally letting Paltrow be a part in the finale, and she is amazing.
Not everything with the movie is outstanding though. Newcomers Hall and Pearce really can not compete with everyone else on screen, and this is especially apparent with Hall. Don Cheadle, who plays War Machine, gives a good run, but really has nothing to do for most of the film. The film is awkwardly written, with some plot points being built up as important facts only to be dropped completely.
It is hard to really fault the film for these issues, as the film is pure entertainment. The film’s action sequences are huge and filled with creative fight scenes and set pieces. All of the scenes are packed with explosions and multiple Iron Man suits.
Even with its great action sequences, the film still focuses on the characters. One of the biggest issues with the previous Iron Man films was the lack of resolution for the characters, but here each character is given a good conclusion. While no one has come out and said this is the final Iron Man film (in fact, the credits include a nice “Iron Man will return” message), “Iron Man 3” would be a great send off for the character if it happens to be the franchise’s ending.
“Iron Man 3” has some problems, but the spectacle of the film alone is more than worth the price of admission. Luckily, though, the film is also packed to the brim with strong characterization, humor and just plain fun. It is not a necessarily deep film, but it does not need to be. The people at Marvel Studios knew exactly what they needed to do and they nailed it.
Marvel’s Iron Man is a hit; now lets see if DC’s “Man of Steel” can hit harder.