Iron Man 3 (2013) Directed by Shane Black. With Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, James Badge Dale and Jon Favreau.
There was a time when the character of Iron Man was a B-list super-hero, respected, but not afforded the same red carpet treatment as say, Spider-Man or Superman. Then Robert Downey Jr. happened, and everything changed. With a US domestic gross of over $1billion in the space of just three films, it’s fair to say the playing field has levelled, somewhat.
Director and co-writer Shane Black takes over from Jon Favreau for this latest instalment to the “man-in-a-can” series, and a very smooth interchange it is. Black has good form when it comes to penning witty repartee, with punchy scripts like Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout already to his name. Fuse his writing style with the razor sharp tongue of Downey Jr., and you have yourself a dream team.
Fizzy dialogue aside, Black also manages to serve up the most human portrayal of Tony Stark yet. The film picks up sometime after the events of Avengers Assemble, and Stark isn’t in the best shape. He doesn’t sleep too well since the alien invasion of New York, indeed, mere mention of it sends him spiralling into sweaty anxiety attacks. Then some stuff happens, namely, Guy Pearce and a whole bunch of scientific mumbo-jumbo, which ultimately spells bad news for our beloved billionaire.
Of the Iron Man films to date, this is the toughest and has the most surprises. The first two films are both two-thirds superior entertainment, yet both suffered the identical problem of having underwhelming, slightly forgettable finales. Iron Man 3 pulls the new trick of keeping it’s main draw, Downey Jr., in play for not just the first two thirds, but the dizzying final act showdown too. Moreover, ‘3’ has more clever tricks up it’s sleeve and isn’t afraid to deploy it’s characters in ways you may not see coming.
It isn’t a perfect film, however. At times you might wish it would gear down for a second to let you catch your breath. Contrarily, bonding scenes between Stark and an all-too-knowing, ‘movie-kid’, although fleetingly charming, do sap momentum.
Minor grumbles aside, this is absolutely everything you could ask for, from a summer blockbuster. It takes an arrogant, self assured character, who has become hugely popular and makes him vulnerable again. Shane Black does a first rate job of retaining continuity of tone from the first two films, yet still manages to stamp his own authority on this big, fat popcorn muncher. 4/5