Iron Man 3 Review


Whatever Marvel movie followed The Avengers was going to struggle to overcome the scaling back that, in this franchise’s very particular case, was unavoidable. Marvel movies, for better or worse, never take place in a vacuum, and for four years and five films, this studio was building toward something massive and unprecedented. And guess what—that movie didn’t disappoint. So Iron Man 3 needed to somehow both pay deference to our journey so far within the Marvel world and also come down from a film about six superheroes to one about, well, just Iron Man. And guess what—it does just that.

Following the events of The Avengers, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has been asked to serve mankind as Iron Man only in matters intergalactic. His best friend, Jim Rhodes (Don Cheadle), now also known as the “Iron Patriot” is America’s metallic protector against enemies foreign (as long as their of this world) and domestic.

So Tony holes up with his woman, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and tinkers with his toys. The Iron Man suit must be better than ever if he’s going to avoid another trip into a wormhole—an incident that induces panic attacks all this time later. With a new threat—The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley)—gleefully wreaking havoc across the world, it seems like Tony can sit this one out. But the forces of evil at play here hold a special connection to Stark, and before long, he’s suiting up again.

For the first time in the history of this series, Jon Favreau stays in front of the camera exclusively—reprising his role as Happy, Tony’s bodyguard. He opted not to take the reigns as director for a third time, passing those responsibilities to Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang helmer Shane Black. While Black doesn’t have enough directorial credits to leave a strong, noticeable mark on the picture, Iron Man 3 doesn’t really miss a beat, and he deserves a lot of credit for that.

Even more impressive than any stylistic tendencies at play here is the film’s tone, which REALLY feels on point. Downey and Black have chemistry, and that chemistry made Kiss Kiss one of the last decade’s most underrated comedies. Their collective quick wit is in abundance here; in fact, it’s probably the film’s greatest asset. There’s a surprise near the midway point that’s plays out so humorlessly that the rest of the film could have, I don’t know, featured a deluge of incomprehensible action scenes aboard an abandoned and crumbling oil rig, and I’d still recommend it…

So about that conclusion…it’s kind of a mess. The entirety of Iron Man 3 hinges on Stark’s gadgets on working at key points. It’s an incredibly frustrating crutch Black overuses whenever he wants to create some additional tension, and it’s never worse than during the film’s final 20 minutes. And the action during these sequences? Multiple Iron Man suits do battle, and we’ve seen it all before.

But the whimsy brought to this film through Black’s pen and Downey’s usual antics are more comforting than a warm blanket on a cold winter evening. This is the best Marvel film since Captain America: The First Avenger, and a reminder that superhero movies need not bear the weight of humankind’s existence on its shoulders. Simply fighting a bad guy, when done right, is more than enough, as it is in Iron Man 3.

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