Film Review: Iron Man 3
On top of being a huge hit 2008’s Iron Man solidified Robert Downy Jr.’s comeback by making him a full-fledged superstar again plus got the ball rolling on what would become the Avengers franchise. Since then an underwhelming Iron Man 2 has been released in addition to Thor, Captain America and The Avengers. Armed with new screenwriters, director, and boost of confidence from The Avengers, Tony Stark’s Iron Man is back.
Tony Stark has become somewhat of a recluse after the New York City alien invasion in The Avengers. While Pepper Potts is busy running Stark Industries a terrorist simply known as The Mandarin has been stepping up his attacks on the United States. Eventually these attacks touch Tony Stark personally and he swears revenge on those responsible.
Existing in the same universe as The Avengers the tone of Iron Man 3 is completely different. While The Avengers was a rousing adventure Iron Man 3 is more of an action oriented character study. With less emphasis being put on Tony Stark’s life being at risk due to his unique condition this film dives deeper into the ramifications of being a superhero to not only himself but those around him.
After Iron Man 2 was released and it became clear that Jon Favreau would not be returning to the director’s chair speculation immediately began about what would become of the franchise. Those worries weren’t exactly quelled when Shane Black was brought on to not only direct but also co-write the script since he’s not household name. Being a huge Shane Black fan I was ecstatic; the potential of having the writer of Lethal Weapon 1 & 2, The Last Boy Scout and Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang writing and directing an Iron Man film was exciting one.
Shane Black didn’t invent the buddy cop film but he nearly perfected it. Just think of the dialogue between Riggs and Murtough in the early Lethal Weapon films- Black created that and he’s brought that same edge to Iron Man. Tony Stark has been a silver tongued devil throughout parts 1 and 2 but now the dialogue of his co-stars are equal to him.
So much of the success or failure of a superhero film rests on the effectiveness of the villain, in this case Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce. Both actors are effective villains but Kingsley is Iron Man 3’s real gem. He’s perfectly written and portrayed and is one of the best superhero villains since Heath Ledger’s turn as The Joker but for completely different reasons. Not to be outdone, Guy Pearce is also well utilized; he channels his best anti-Tony Stark and is as charming and manipulative as he is frightening.
Iron Man 3 isn’t without it faults, but thankfully its strengths far outweigh its deficiencies. As sharp as the dialogue is the plot is muddy at times and the villain’s aims and motivations are not always clearly explained. Essentially the bad guys are bad and they’re making a grab for power… it’s not a complicated plot but it does feel convoluted.
Another issue comes in the form of characters literally jumping from suit to suit, after a while it begins to feel a bit ridiculous. By the end you’re starting to wonder when Stan Lee’s cameo will get his turn in one of the armored suits. Don’t get me wrong, all the different Iron Man suits are fun to look at, but at a certain point it becomes fatiguing and too easy of an “out” for the characters. A smaller gripe (literally) involves Tony Stark getting a pint sized sidekick. The kid isn’t a terrible actor and he’s the source of a couple good laughs but he’s an addition that doesn’t really jell with the rest of the Marvel universe.
While it’s not as grand in scope as The Avengers, Iron Man 3 is an enjoyable film that is visually and emotionally satisfying. Robert Downey Jr. continues to impress as Tony Stark and despite a couple cheesy lines he carries the film easily with or without the aid of the Iron Man suit. New director and co-writer Shane Black’s influence is a welcome change to the series and the results are a film that rivals the original.