It almost seems strange to think that Iron Man, starring a former troubled Hollywood actor, was released only five years ago. It became the stepping stone for one of the biggest film franchises in recent years – not to mention help bring comic book films to another level. Five Marvel films later, history is practically repeating itself as we enter the second stage of the story. Iron Man 3 picks up after The Avengers and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is having anxiety attacks and problems sleeping due to the events in New York. However, when he faces threats from genetic scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and mysterious terrorist leader The Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley), he is forced to confront his demons and essentially – get out of his funk to kick some serious ass.
First of all, when it comes to the Marvel films, Iron Man is not necessarily renowned for its dramatics and serious peril. Even though Tony Stark Mk. III has anxiety issues over his fear for his girlfriend, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow in an extended role), none of these have really been covered in serious depth. Bless Downey Jr. – the role of Tony Stark is perfect for him – but he cannot really convey serious emotion on-screen. As the film progresses, there are plenty of opportunities for him to shed a tear or two but unfortunately, his character’s indifference works against him. Certain plot elements are quite predictable in places and any interesting subplots, such as the backstory between Killian and Dr. Maya Hansen, played by a surprisingly underused Rebecca Hall. These subplots unfortunately end before they have a chance to develop into something more.
However, while Iron Man lacks in the heavy stuff, the film compensates with jokes and simple entertainment. Downey Jr., as always, has fun as Stark and is equipped with numerous suits and comeback quips a-plenty. Thanks to the co-writing credits by director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Lethal Weapon) and Drew Pearce, the writer of superhero sitcom, No Heroes, there is a balanced mix of buddy-hero banter and British humour and it evidently comes through in the script, which complements the consistent and thankfully fast paced action sequences.
Film fans will surely notice influences from the Lethal Weapon films and to an extent, references to other Marvel films (the concept of ‘super soldiers’ from Captain America and the Phoenix Saga from X-Men), making it quite an entertaining edition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, after the rather lacking Iron Man 2. The biggest surprise from the film is The Mandarin, who begins the film as one thing but ends up as something quite different.
Iron Man 3 is action-packed, funny and entertaining with a fulfilling ending but it fails to reach the bar set by The Avengers. We just have to wait and see what the second story-arc of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer.