You know that Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark, you know that Gwyneth Paltrow is Pepper Potts, you even know that Ben Kingsley is The Mandarin – but who is The Mandarin? Only Iron Man 3 (much like Smarties) has the answer.
Shoot to thrill
Since exploding onto the scene in 2008, Iron Man has been one of the most unlikely superhero film success stories. Far from the mainstream heights of Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, audiences went into the film not knowing what to expect, only to be (literally) blown away by the results.
Downey Jr.’s Stark is the epitome of charisma, and yet by his third official outing – set after the events of The Avengers (or Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, if you must) – he is as broken a hero as he was at the story’s beginning, if not more so.
The story is something more complex than a simple case of revenge, and despite the audience’s familiarity with the characters manages to avoid obvious pitfalls or just going in bigger and throwing in a bunch of characters. Semi-sentient Iron Man suits on the other hand…
Looking at the trailers, you’d be fooled into thinking that the team had played their hand too early, with action and excitement at every turn, but in fact the film’s most startling reveal is in the end also the most obvious – and one we won’t spoil here.
The cast is consistently strong this time around, as (on the whole) are their characters. Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin surpasses all expectations and Guy Pierce as the slick Aldrich Killian is smug enough to make you feel slightly sick at times.
Downey Jr. steals the show as usual, but not at the expense of the supporting cast – though former Director Jon Favreau’s character Happy is conspicuous by his absence for most of the film – particularly Don Cheadle as the ‘re-branded’ Iron Patriot, who is gifted with a number of decent one-liners.
In fact the comedy output of the film as a whole surpasses both of the previous two films put together, but not in a way which seems corny or forced.
Even the consistently spectacular Paul Bettany as voice-in-his-iron-head Jarvis (who sadly is under-used) cracks out a zinger which really raises the film’s game.
A visual spectacle
For any big-action blockbuster you expect, well, action, but the set pieces here are more inventive than in the disappointing Iron Man 2.
The mix up of personnel, which puts co-writer Shane Black in the director’s chair, works well, and fellow writer Drew Pearce adds a hint of dry British sensibility which shows through most strongly in the comedic exchanges.
Special effects are on par with the films’ contemporaries, and 3D is used sparingly and for effect, something still not a given for many big-budget flicks.
Box office Kryptonite?
With the already over-hyped Man of Steel only around the corner, Iron Man 3 always had its work cut out to stay on top and the team have really put everything into this and not left the story hanging on for a 4.
Trilogies are hard to do at the best of times. Though Iron Man 2 had its disappointments, it was still a good film and had some truly unforgettable characters such as Sam Rockwell’s sublime Justin Hammer.
Iron Man 3 though ticks all the boxes and then forces you to rip up the piece of paper and make a new list as it surpasses the standard of ‘Excellent superhero film’ to reach the dizzying status of ‘Excellent film in any genre’.
Those looking for a period drama could be disappointed, but for its audience and for newcomers alike this film has something fun to offer.
Plus, a worryingly high number of Iron Man suits, which can’t hurt.
James Michael Parry