Tony Stark is back in the third instalment in the Iron Man series and being the first film to follow The Avengers (still leaving out the Assemble) in the Marvel franchise, it better not drop the ball. What is even more important to me, is that this is the new Shane Black movie. The Shane Black who wrote a such action classics as Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout and of course, Hawkins in Predator. Iron Man 3 has Blacks signatures all over it. Set at Christmas time, it’s satirically dark with a wise cracking flawed hero that at times plays up to the buddy genre with Starks life long friend Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) as they verbally bounce of one another. He even manages to fit a bit of gun play in what is usually a more high tech affair.
Usually the these trilogies, by the time we’ve reached the third film, the story falls apart. Whether its struggling to come up with fresh ideas that work or over compensating to make them bigger than the previous two that they get lost ( Ahem…. Spider-Man 3). This time though the Marvel have struck gold yet again. Iron Man 3 may not reach the same heights as The Avengers and may not have the heart and charm of Thor but it is one of the most entertaining and packed full of surprises. To talk about the plot may give away too much but this is Tony Starks story. There is no one from S.H.I.E.L.D or any other superhero to back him up. He is alone in this one and for good reason. Our favourite playboy billionaire philanthropist is experiencing anxiety problems after his near death experience in New York (Spoiler alert…. but come on… if you’ve not seen it by now then you have yourself to blame). Burying himself in his work letting the suits take over. When a terrorist called The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) steps in and attacks him on his door step, he is left alone and without a functional suit essentially stripping him of his powers. Now he must find a way to save the day and get back into the action, while fighting off geneticlly altered superman created by Aldrich Killian (a shifty Guy Pearce)
At times, this feels like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Robert Downy Jr being self-aware narrating the opening as it foreshadows the events yet to unfold. What works well here is Black’s sense of humour along with his ability to keep momentum going. It’s very dark and satirical and clearly doesn’t give a fuck and goes for what it wants. Taking parts and elements from various comic books of the series, most notable is the Extremis story arc, this may not please some purist fans with its treatment of characters and plot threads. What this does is simple take parts of Iron Man’s legacy and mould them together to tell a new story, it balances everything quite nicely while made some improvements. The villains are memorable and do not feel wasted this time round, even though that maybe open for discussion. The jokes are funnier, there is a real sense of threat and Tony goes on a journey to find out if can still be the hero without the suit. This feels more like a complete film. Like the first one but with more meat and less like the second one with one eye focusing on the up and coming Avengers. Gwyneth Paltrow is likable here as is Don Cheadle who is even more to do other than sitting inside War Machine. All in all, this is solid entertainment to kick off the summer blockbusters this year. This isn’t the best Marval movie but it is the best Iron Man one. Go, see, have fun and thank me later..