You didn’t think Robert Downey Jr. could get any more awesome…
…and you were wrong. Not only does Downey absolutely kill it as Tony Stark for the fourth (fifth including the cameo from The Incredible Hulk) time, he manages to exceed and improve upon his previous portrayals in every possible way. There are so many examples to support this conclusion, but since I try to do my film reviews spoiler-free, I’ll shy away from any plot-revealing details for Iron Man 3. The other films, however, I will spoil the living crap out of.
SORTA-CRYPTIC REVIEW AHEAD
Iron Man 3 takes place shortly after last Summer’s blockbuster The Avengers, and the effects of the events in that film have made a lasting impact on Tony Stark. You could say he has been scarred from his experience fighting alongside gods and supermen against an invading alien army.
One of the things that sets Stark apart from the likes of Captain America, Thor, and the other Avengers is that he is the only one who is “merely” a mortal man who has spent all of his time only fighting other mortal men — Steve Rogers/Captain America’s experience in the Marvel Universe’s World War 2 involved everything from alien weapons to doomsday devices and supermen; Thor is a god from a distant galaxy who has godlike powers and cosmic knowledge; Bruce Banner/The Hulk is himself a “giant green rage monster” who in is few outings has fought other super beasts; the other humans like Natasha Romanov/Black Widow, Clint Barton/Hawkeye, and Nick Fury have had enough time to adjust to the world of gods and men (I’m ignoring the bit of The Avengers where Romanov and Barton discuss feeling out of their league because I choose to).
The effect of this knowledge and the attempted self-sacrifice Stark made in The Avengers drives the story in Iron Man 3, and it’s brilliant. Add to this the fact that this is the first Marvel film to not feel the entire time like it’s trying to set up other movies, and you’re left with a more complete and enjoyable character arc that really feels like a fresh new story to tell. There is a lot of character development in Iron Man 3, and it comes because Shane Black (the director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, one of the guys in Predator, and the writer of most of the best action movies of the 80s) spends a lot of time making sure that Stark is without his suit of power armour, forcing Stark to adapt and think his way out of situations for the first time since the cave in Iron Man. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any fx-fueled action set pieces using Iron Man armour — there is honestly more Iron Man action in Iron Man 3 than all the other films featuring Stark put together — but you don’t feel like the plot is merely there to set up the action. It feels natural.
Add to the brilliant writing, direction, and leading character, and what do you have left? Oh yeah: everything.
Everyone gets to shine
This should be a rule for making any film: that every character with a significant speaking part or integral connection to the story gets an opportunity to shine in the film. That happens here — from Don Cheadle’s sequences as War Machine and Iron Patriot, to Gwyneth Paltrow’s fourth take on Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau stealing a bunch of scenes as Happy Hogan (especially in the prologue), to Guy Pearce playing the most Bond-villain-like role of his career, and finally to Sir Ben Kingsley, who not only owns his role as The Mandarin, but manages to show an incredible amount of depth and diversity with such a small part.
Hell, even the kid-whose-name-I-forget who gets a surprising amount of screentime manages to steal some scenes.
If I were to have one complaint I’d say that the henchmen characters don’t get a whole lot to work with. But the way that the movie comes together, you hardly notice.
Easter Egg City
These days you always know to stay through the end of the credits of a Marvel film, and Iron Man 3 is no different. But if you thought that was the only Easter Egg to catch in the film, you’d be missing out. There are many references in Iron Man 3, and I don’t want to list any of them lest I spoil some of the surprises, but they’re great and for the first time in a Marvel film they don’t serve to further the plots of other movies (yet). Instead, they create even more depth to the film and to Tony Stark’s story.
Should you see Iron Man 3?
Considering the movie made upwards of $160,o00,000 in North America alone this past weekend, there’s a good chance you went to see the movie already (that’s the second-highest box office opening weekend of all time, behind 2012′s The Avengers).
Yes. Go see Iron Man 3. Unless you don’t like any of the other Marvel films, in which case why did you read this far?