There is rarely something more exciting in the film industry than seeing an actor and a director click. On the occasions this happens, you know that greatness will follow. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are but a few examples of what the right combination of acting and directing can repeatedly achieve! This is why when Kiss Kiss Bang Bang duo Robert Downey Jr. and director Shane Black reunited for Iron Man 3, there was a huge relief that the epic franchise would be in safe hands. Indeed, the third instalment about the armoured super hero proves to be a complex, but well-oiled machine which soars between stunning visual effects, strong emotions and hilarious wisecracks to deliver a worthy leader of Marvel’s much-anticipated Phase Two.
Iron Man 3 is a back-to-basics story which, much like the beginning of the first movie, finds Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) vulnerable, stripped of his “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” lifestyle and fighting his demons after the events that took place in Avengers Assemble. This time around, there is no S.H.I.E.L.D., no Avengers, and Tony needs to face his archenemy – the mighty Mandarin, alone. Well, almost. “Everybody needs a hobby”, declares Mr. Stark, and introduces us to his personal army of Iron Man suits, which now count at 42 (and incidentally would cost over $10 billion in real life – click here to see why). However, interestingly enough, this fourth (if you count Avengers Assemble) outing of the ironclad avenger allows us to see more of Tony Stark battling the bad guys without a suit…or with parts of one. Needless to say that Robert Downey Jr. is at his best here, and more than ever manages to convincingly deliver a layered character which goes from PTSD, discouragement and desperation to humour, ingeniousness and bravery in a matter of seconds. He is not the only one though. The film, based on the 2005-06 Extremis storyline, finally introduces us to Iron Man’s most villainous nemesis – the Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley). Fortunately, Ben Kingsley’s performance serves to show that the wait has been worth it – his interpretation of this tricky-to-bring-to-life-on-the-screen character is spectacular and masterfully handled, paving the path for the inspired, hate-it-or-love-it, out-of-the-blue twist in the second act of the film.
And talking about twists, the prompted by the trailer viewers who expect Iron Man 3 to turn a gloomier page of the character’s history would be in for a huge surprise. Yes, the film is a soul-searching effort, which accents the imperfectly human side of Mr. Stark. Yet, director Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr. himself have done the impossible to make sure that the film’s darkness is continually dispersed by an array of well-placed jokes, which gel flawlessly to present us with arguably one of Marvel’s best projects up to date. A fine example of this is the scene where Tony is talking to a new-found unlikely sidekick – Tennessee boy Harley, and asks about the kid’s father to which Harley answers that he had left six years ago. Shane Black revealed that there was no line after this…that is until Robert Downey Jr. suggested saying “Well, that happens. There is no need to be a pussy about it.”
Hilarious, twisty, and most entertaining, Iron Man 3’s biggest success is that it manages not only to avoid the shame of proving an anticlimax after the spectacular Avengers Assemble, but also to establish itself as an amazing stand-alone thrill ride. Bonus points for the revealed bad-ass side of Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), the clever references to previous Iron Man movies (look out for Dr. Yinsen) and the cooler-than-ever poster artwork (see above). In the end, although the success of the franchise had led Marvel’s President Kevin Feige to declare a willingness to turn Iron Man into a Bond-like longitudinal character, this might prove hard to do without Mr. Downey Jr. After all, it is not far from the truth when at the end of the movie he makes the statement: “One thing that is left: I am Iron Man!”
5/5 Marvelous points
P.S. Never mind the exam I had on the date Iron Man 3 was released (which in the UK was the 26th April – 1 week before the US, believe it or not), I spent my day getting excited about what I consider one of the best days of the year…and doing this (see picture 1) 😀 . I spent the next day in bed doing this (see picture 2) 😀 . Since then I have seen the film for a second time 🙂