Iron Man 3 Review

Iron Man 3

When you’ve saved the world and conquered the box office at the same time, what do you do for your next trick?

These are the problems Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark and director Shane Black come up against in Iron Man 3.

Starting at the beginning, which is actually the end, Stark enters into one of those whip smart monologues of his about, you know, I forget what it’s about.

But the first scene takes us back in time to a 1999 era Tony Stark, pre Pepper Potts and getting ready to welcome in the new millennium with his presently mulleted bff, Happy Hogan, as well as a gaggle of beautiful yet seemingly vacuous young girls.

Sneaking in amongst this party on their way to Stark’s penthouse is Aldrich Killian, a geeky cripple with bad hair, a brilliant mind and a bit of a guy crush on Tony.

As the film unravels, we learn he’s not the only one.

Killian tries to steal some time with his alpha male inspiration, but is given an eloquent brush off by Stark.

Tony’s got other things on his mind, namely bringing in the year 2000 with the help of the shapely botanist Maya Hansen.

Fast forward thirteen years and countless one night stands later, including that of Miss Hansen, and we’re back in the present day.

Having just saved the world from a horde of invading aliens lead by some mischievous Norse god with a bunch of new super friends, Stark has turned into something of a workaholic.

Now he knows what’s out there, the man who’s normally made of iron is working round the clock so that he’s ready for whatever alien threat next comes through a New York City wormhole.

And you thought London had its issues.

Which means there’s a new and improved prototype of his Iron Man suit to be perfected, not to mention a neglected Pepper Potts to keep happy.

As any man could tell you, whether they’re made of iron or not, having a career and keeping a woman happy are both full time jobs.

But both of these are minor problems in Tony Stark’s life, when compared with what’s really keeping him up at night.

Ever since successfully repelling Loki’s alien shaped invading army, Stark’s encountered a different kind of foe that’s also pretty alien to him: anxiety attacks.

Anathema to his wisecracking, alpha male DNA, Stark struggles to manage his own anxious issues and is far too proud to let anyone know what he’s really going through.

Which is pretty bad timing as far as his home country’s concerned, because there’s a new terrorist threat hanging over america who goes by the name of The Mandarin, and he’s got the american president in his fruity yet lethal sights.

The idea of directing a film like Iron Man 3 would normally be the stuff of dreams, and no doubt it still was for new to the franchise director Shane Black.

But when you have to follow Joss Whedon’s box office behemoth Avengers Assemble, as well as the daunting ensemble cast recruited for this film, how do you make a stand-alone Iron Man film to compete with this?

The answer is you go bigger and funnier than ever before.

Sensibly, Black and co-writer Drew Pearce pick up where Whedon left off, with Stark struggling to deal with his recent alien adventures before introducing multiple baddies, an army of Iron Men and the now traditional whip smart dialogue from Hollywood’s favourite reformed golden boy.

The actors are great, the action’s spectacular and the laughs are both frequent and loud; particularly one shout out delivered to our very own Croydon town.

And yet, you can’t help but let your mind wander to the bigger and brighter battles Iron Man will doubtless face in the next Avengers instalment.

At least I couldn’t.

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The cinematic arc for Tony Stark now feels complete, his origin story played out, and even the über confident and rather marvellous Robert Downey Jr can’t top the excitement of seeing half a dozen superheroes together in the same film; a reality Black tips his hat to in the now anticipated final, final scene after the credits have rolled.

Gwyneth Paltrow returns in a supporting yet still surprising role as Pepper Potts, while Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce lend some gravitas in their roles as The Mandarin and Aldrich Killian respectively, but it just feels like Iron Man’s solo days are now behind him.

Not that Iron Man 3 is a bad film, far from it.

The humour and refreshingly unserious entertainment Downey Jr’s stellar hero brought to the comic book films was most welcome as a balance to the modern, Christopher Nolan inspired trend for brooding, realism heavy superheroes.

And Black has produced a fine final chapter in the stand-alone Iron Man franchise that puts other third films in a superhero franchise to shame.

Yes, I’m talking about The Dark Knight Rises.

Again.

It’s just the time may have come for the ensemble superhero movie to reign supreme, with Downey Jr’s Tony Stark acting as the glittering jewel in this cinematic crown.

Jonathan Campbell

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April 2013
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