Synopsis: Marvel’s Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?
Release Date: May 3, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Action, Fantasy
After the worldwide phenomenon that was The Avengers, Marvel Studios was sitting pretty heading into what they call “Phase Two” of their cinematic universe, which kicks off today with Iron Man 3. Considering The Avengers grossed a small fortune, Marvel could have easily phoned this one in – given Robert Downey Jr. two hours to ham it up, and surrounded his always electric performance as Tony Stark with plenty of CG explosions and robotic suits to keep fans entertained. They didn’t. Instead they went somewhere pretty unexpected. To be fair, Iron Man 3 features more CG destruction and Iron Man suits than both previous Iron Man movies combined, but it’s also the boldest of the three movies, and it may just be one of the best Marvel movies to date.
Robert Downey Jr. is once again great as Tony Stark, but the real key to Iron Man 3‘s success is writer/director Shane Black. Black, who worked with Downey on the excellent dark comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, takes the Marvel framework – the hero’s fall and subsequent rise while at odds with a classic comic book villain – and completely flips it on its head. At nearly every turn, Black subverts audiences’ expectations by finding the humor in every situation. Much like Tony Stark can never take even the direst circumstance seriously, Shane Black can’t take the fact he’s directing a summer tent pole movie seriously. He’s always looking for the laugh, always trying to pull a fast one on the audience, and as a result Iron Man 3 constantly surprises and feels wholly refreshing.
Comic book fans might come away disappointed by Iron Man 3 for how it treats certain characters and storylines, but for me that’s what makes this film so enjoyable. After following a pretty cut-and-dry path leading up to The Avengers, Iron Man 3 needed to shake things up a bit in order to prove Marvel Studios isn’t a Xerox machine. After seeing this movie, it seems pretty clear that Marvel doesn’t plan to lift storylines whole cloth from the comics, but rather to use the rich history of the comics to surprise and excite fans and non-fans alike.
That’s why Iron Man 3 is so great: it pokes fun at the comic book genre while still being a well-constructed superhero movie. It does have a rather weak second act that meanders, but Downey Jr’s performance and the script (from Black and Drew Pearce) help keep that section from feeling like a chore. And by the time things start barreling towards its conclusion, the film becomes a real treat. Much like The Avengers was the culmination of these individual stores, Iron Man 3 is the culmination (and evolution) of the Tony Stark tales that preceded it. If Marvel decided they no longer liked money, and cut the Iron Man franchise off here, I would be perfectly satisfied.
As if I haven’t gushed about his contributions enough, let me just reaffirm that this is a Shane Black movie through and through. He grabs hold of a character that is already a witty wise-ass, and takes those qualities to the next level. In a lot of respects it feels like Black is the Tim Burton to Robert Downey Jr’s Johnny Depp. Black knows the actor’s strengths and weaknesses, and also knows how to leverage them for any storyline. I applaud Black for his ability to deliver a genuinely funny movie that still has plenty of heart and still gets the blood pumping.
Iron Man 3 makes great use of that Avengers money with some thrilling set pieces. The film is a little light on the Iron Man action early on, but it more than makes up for it during its climax.
In a lot of ways, Iron Man 3 feels like the first movie that truly understands how Iron Man works in an action context. There’s variety to the set pieces with a great sense of space to the choreography and editing, and the film even features a delightful action sequence where Tony Stark is just Tony Stark.
Iron Man 3 is also one of the only Marvel movies (save for Avengers) that ramps up to its climax, which makes it all the more rewarding when you get there. In some respects that finale feels a little too large, like you’re only getting 3/4 of the picture, but that’s mostly because the focus always stays on the film’s leads. I think that’s by design, but some might find the climax a tiny bit unfulfilling based on what it promises and what it inevitably delivers. Overall, though, moviegoers will come away satisfied on the action front, even if Iron Man 3‘s set pieces feel a little less “epic” after The Avengers.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Shane Black
- Screenwriter(s): Drew PearceShane Black
- Cast: Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man)Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) Don Cheadle (Colonel James Rhodes)Guy Pearce (Aldrich Killian)Rebecca Hall (Maya Hansen)Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan)Ben Kingsley (The Mandarin)
- Cinematographer: John Toll
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Brian Tyler
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA