Iron Man 3 is the dramatic next instalment in Marvel’s Iron Man series, a fitting addition to Tony Stark’s explosive story. Set in the aftermath of Avengers Assemble Tony Stark (Robert Downey Junior) is suffering from PTSD, working on his Iron Man suits because he can’t sleep without suffering nightmares, and chronic anxiety attacks. However, when a terrorist attack by the mysterious Mandarin threatens the life of Happy Hogan, he sets out on the warpath to stop his evil plans.
Now I’ll freely admit that I’m a bit of a comic book film nerd, and so went into the cinema for Iron Man 3 with high expectations, having loved the previous two films. And I was not disappointed in the slightest. The film is full of action and drama, but deals with a different side to Tony Stark. Rather than being hidden inside his suits as he fights high powered enemies, he has to go back to his mechanic roots after an incident leaves his suit without any power. This leads to some interesting interactions, and I think that it helps us to get to know the man behind the suit a little better. It was also really interesting to see the other side to the playboy Tony Stark in this film. While we got a glimpse of Tony and Pepper’s relationship in Avengers Assemble, their relationship was central here, and again showed us a more complicated man, who seems to have grown a lot because of his love for Pepper. Of course the film also has the requisite action sequences, and these do not disappoint. The Iron Man series has provided quite a benchmark for these, and I believe that the final one in Iron Man 3 blows them all out of the water. I can’t say much more without ruining it, but safe to say, it’s spectacular.
I was only a little disappointed in the way that the abilities of the villain were explained. While superpowers and aliens are the expected subjects of the movies of Thor, XMen and Avengers Assemble, the villains thus far in the Iron Man series have been mechanics or geniuses, but human beings with robotics, rather than superhuman abilities. The biological creation of these is kind of glossed over, which made it feel out of place in Tony Stark’s story, and pulled me out of the world at times.
Robert Downey Junior is on top form throughout the film, displaying the cocky and witty character that we fell in love with in the first two films, while also displaying his vulnerability after the traumatic events in New York. In my opinion, Don Cheadle is a far more convincing Colonel James Rhodes than Terrence Howard was in the first film, and his performance in Iron Man 3 is solid. His comic timing in response to Robert Downey Junior’s is spot on, providing moments of comedic relief in the most appropriate of times. Ben Kingsley is superb as the Mandarin, and Guy Pearce completes the pair as a truly sinister villain. Gwyneth Paltrow excels in her emotional scenes with Tony, but is too soft spoken and lacks the punch to really make her action parts of the movie work. And of course, Stan Lee cameos in a very unexpected manner, and brought a smile to my face.
If this is what Marvel has to offer as the start of ‘phase two’ of their Avenger’s series then I have high hopes for the rest of them, particularly Joss Whedon’s Avengers 2 instalment. Fast paced, but well seasoned with character exploration and heart, Iron Man 3 is engaging and everything that you could want out of a superhero movie.
Don’t forget to stay till the end of the credits, and by that I do mean the end, for a brilliant scene between Tony Stark and another Marvel character.
Iron Man 3 (2013), directed by Shane Black, is released in cinemas in the UK by Walt Disney Studios, Certificate 12A.