Marvel once again kicks off the summer’s blockbuster season with a bang, bringing Robert Downey Jr’s famed Iron Man franchise to a close. It’s hard to follow such hits as Iron Man and last year’s Avengers, but new director Shane Black manages to make Iron Man just as relevant as any other superhero.
Robert Downey Jr. is once again back playing playboy-billionaire Tony Stark, who has manufactured hundreds of Iron Man suits in his spare time. Tony has been getting bored, and nothing really interesting has happened since his Avengers days; his relationship with Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) is very routine, to say the least, and there is a bit of tension between the two. That all changes when a call from an old colleague, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) brings old relationships back to center stage. Couple that with random terrorist attacks from a mysterious villain, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), and you’ve got a recipe for disaster that can only be fixed by Iron Man. The government also gets involved, and the Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle), aids in Iron Man’s dilemma.
The story this time around is more personal, and the marketing has made that claim clear. Tony Stark spends less time in the suit, and more time interacting with other characters. This allows for character development, something that RDJ has never had trouble with. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Robert Downey Jr IS Iron Man. There is no one else who would have even come close to performing at the level he does in this role, and he has become synonymous with the brand. He is at his best this time around, and he makes the other actors want to do perform better as a result. Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts is given a smaller role this time around, but she comes full circle near the film’s climax. You will definitely not see it coming. Don Cheadle shines brightly as the Iron Patriot, and the scenes with him and Downey make an excellent pairing, almost like a buddy cop comedy. Guy Pearce as mysterious researcher Killian is chilling, and he is very mysterious yet captivating. Early on the film, Iron Man finds himself stranded in Tennessee of all places, where he teams up with a young kid named Harvey (Ty Simpkins), and the scenes with the two together evoke a father-son mutual relationship. Every actor shines on screen, whether they have a small role or not.
This is a good thing, because later on, the plot drags. There is less of an emotional stake in the film for a lot of the characters, except for Downey, and the energy really drains from the film later on. The movie seems to be lacking the spark that the first one had; the quick wit, the fun energy, is not here this time around. The film’s final action scene is a beauty, but lacking substance. Not to mention, some of what the film does with the plot is explained barbarically, sometimes going beyond belief, even for a superhero film. There’s something missing, but it’s hard to explain. One twist in the middle of the film may make Marvel fans upset, but I won’t spoil it here. I, myself, found it excellent, and it was very well-hidden prior to the film’s release.
Negatives aside, Iron Man 3 is a great finale for one of pop culture’s most recognizable icons. RDJ is back in top form, as are most of the other actors, and even though the film is lacking in terms of storytelling, and it pales in comparison to the first film, it’s still an enjoyable summer blockbuster that anyone can enjoy.