Let’s start with how misleading the trailer is. Dark, gritty, and compellingly cut, this trailer promised an Iron Man movie with a serious edge. This is not it. It’s more of a comedy than the last two. The (allegedly) witty one-liners no longer pepper the script, they stain the DNA of the film. This is like a 130 minute sitcom with a few explosions and good production values. And it isn’t very funny.
Robert Downey Jr. slips effortlessly back into the role of Tony Stark, the narcissist billionaire who effectively ‘privitised world peace’ back in the first movie and now spends his days having panic attacks. He’s a bit shaken up after his ordeal in Avengers Assemble (or rather Iron Man 2.5, since he stole the limelight for the majority of that rather weak film). He is forced to get his game together when a terrorist known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsly) starts to wreak terror on America.
Predictably, Gwyneth Paltrow’s character Pepper Potts is sidelined while the men (Stark and Don Cheadle as his military friend Rhodes) do all the work. She has to run for safety then becomes a rather irritating damsel in distress at the hands of a dangerous scientist (an entertaining Guy Pearce). All the other women in the movie are evil, manipulative villains, killers or prostitutes. Curious view of feminism Marvel have going on there.
The plot is paper-thin and relies on some half-hearted diversions where Stark chats to a young boy in a fatherly kind of way (whilst trivialising dangerous weapons). But still, I hear the defenders cry, this is Iron Man! It’s not real. The weapons aren’t real. It’s a comic book movie! Then why do writers Drew Pearce and Shane Black feel the need to bring in references to atrocities committed by Gaddafi and Osama Bin Laden? Either this is grim reality or cartoony fantasy? In the end, it becomes make-believe comic book terrorism crudely married to real-life horror. It’s kind of offensive, when you think about it.
Thinly plotted, low on laughs (though guilty of trying so hard it’s painful), and far too long, this is an Iron Man adventure that isn’t worth remembering. Let’s hope Thor 2 isn’t quite so tiresome.
Iron Man 3 (2013), directed by Shane Black, is released in the UK by Walt Disney Studios, Certificate 12A.