Iron Man 3 can be summed up in two words: ‘Great fun’. But seeing as this is an in depth review site I’d better flesh that out! We get a new director signing on for the third Iron Man instalment, Shane Black. He had previously worked with Robert Downey Jnr. who starred in his directorial debut feature Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005). John Favreau who directed the first two Iron Man movies returns, as executive producer and also still playing the role of ‘Happy Hogan’, after he decided to bow out of directing the series in 2010. This led to Black being brought in to help re-write and direct Iron Man 3. Following on from the massively entertaining Iron Man and the patchy Iron Man2, I was interested to see what Black would bring to the series. Happily he builds on the strengths of the franchise so far; the casting of Robert Downey Jnr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, witty dialogue and plenty of humour. In other words, ‘Great fun’.
This is a great tonic after the dirge that was The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan 2012) and the spectacularly bad Green Lantern (Martin Campbell 2011). My bet is that pit Iron Man 3 against upcoming Superman reboot Man Of Steel (Zack Snyder, due for release June 2013), the former will win hands down when it comes to entertainment value.
Robert Downey Jnr. is yet again perfect as Tony Stark. In my humble opinion this is the best casting decision of any superhero title to date. Even Christian Bale’s Batman pales in comparison. Downey Jnr. inhabits the character and is everything Stark is meant to be. Not only that, but he seems to bring out the best in those who star alongside him instead of dominating them on screen. There’s real chemistry between him and Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘Pepper Pots’, their relationship is believable. Dom Cheadle returns as Colonel Rhodes/War Machine, with a lesser role in the plot than Iron Man 2. Guy Pierce is a little underwhelming as bad guy Aldrich Killian, continuing a theme that has been a flaw of the series – weak villains who never seem like a true match for Iron Man. Mickey Rourke did a good job as Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2 however his character was criminally underused. Instead we got a needless sub plot about Stark searching for a new periodic table element to power his arc reactor. True, in Iron Man 3 we get Ben ‘good actor constantly appearing in bad movies’ Kinglsey playing arch terrorist ‘The Mandarin’. Director Black performs a massive twist with this character that made Marvel purists howl with rage. Others such as myself who don’t care as much about the movie being faithful to the Marvel Universe as it appears in print generally found the twist to be as hilarious as it was unexpected.
Some of the best scenes involve the interaction between Stark and the young Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins) who he befriends whilst hiding out in the aftermath of a battle with The Mandarin’s forces. Their verbal jousting and cynical approach to each other blasts away all the cloying syrup that usually comes with having a child character in a blockbuster.
The plot is basic, audiences wanting or expecting a darker tone than the previous two films and some character development in Tony Stark will be disappointed. However, I say leave that for the inevitable reboot. Black is to be applauded for giving us more of what made the big screen Iron Man a success without it seeming tired or stale. Whilst this release ties up the trilogy and sees the end of Robert Downey Junior’s contract with Marvel Studios, most sources expect him to revive the role in The Avengers 2 and possibly another stand alone Iron Man title. Oh, and some advice, keep watching until after the end credits for an awesome Easter Egg. Like everything else about Iron Man 3 it’s ‘Great fun’.
Director: Shane Black
Cast: Robert Downey Jnr. Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pierce, Dom Cheadle, John Favreau, Ty Simpkins
Runtime: 130 mins