Iron Man 3 – Review
When last we encountered Tony Stark (aka Iron Man – not a spoiler), he and his superhero buddies had managed to save the world from impending alien invasion, while simultaneously raising the bar far higher for any further films than had previously been expected.
With the coming together of The Avengers and the unveiling of the Marvel masterplan, the stakes were raised as Director Joss Whedon provided one of the most ludicrously entertaining blockbuster films of the decade. Suddenly, much more is expected of any new Marvel enterprise. Here's a trailer.
Iron Man 3 carries this burden well. While simultaneously finding a balance between being a part of the wider Marvel Universe and also being a necessarily stripped back set of events, it treads this uncertain territory with confidence.
There is a risk that the action and threat could be underwhelming after the high octane antics of Avengers Assemble – and to an extent it is. This is a much more personal film, with Stark laid bare, both physically and emotionally. Dealing with panic attacks in the wake of the New York battle of Avengers, Stark is also separated from his titular suits when terrorists, led by the mysterious Mandarin, attack his home. Now, he is forced to rely on his ingenuity, a real strength of the first Iron Man film's opening act, which was visibly lacking in the clunking action of the second film. Deconstructing the character of Stark in a similar, if lighter way, to that which Nolan did with Bruce Wayne, director Shane Black seems more concerned with getting past the armour to the heart of the hero.
All this may sound rather like the action has been removed, which is emphatically not the case. It is muted in scale, but there is innovation in the set pieces, demonstrated by a well worked mid-air rescue of a dozen free falling victims. There a humorous moments, largely provided by Downey Jr's rapier wit, an actor who is now surely interchangeable with his alter ego in most people's minds. The risk of pulling back on the spectacle pays off largely because of Downey's charisma – such a gamble may not pay off with slighter characters, like Captain America.
Entertainment is standard at Marvel, but being willing to take real risks and throw in significant curveballs, sets Iron Man 3 apart as one of their stronger efforts. Twisty, humorous and with great supporting roles – Kingsley's Mandarin terrorist damn-near steals the film – if this is where phase two of Marvel's masterplan is headed, then sign me up!
And for the removal of doubt, the correct ranking is:
1 – Avengers Assemble
2 – Thor
3 – Iron Man 3
4 – Iron Man
5 – Incredible Hulk
6 – Captain America
7 – Iron Man 2
Words by Ali Bianchi. Catch Ali and Adam's regular Film Clash podcast here.