Iron Man 3
A Stark improvement on Iron Man 2? ALEX KEMP reviews Marvel’s first post-Avengers outing and promises no more man of metal puns.
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce
Running Time: 130 min
“Ever since that big dude with a hammer fell out of the sky, subtlety kind of went out of the window.” So says Guy Pearce’s character in Iron Man 3, the first Marvel flick since The Avengers busted enough blocks to make it the third highest grossing film of all time. In the wake of that juggernaut, the third instalment in the Iron Man franchise hardly had to exert any effort at all to win over its audience; hapless punters would have flocked to see it in droves, regardless. It’s pleasing, therefore, to see that the filmmakers seem to have poured genuine skill, time and toil into making sure that Iron Man 3 adheres to its ‘no tolerance’ approach to subtlety, in the most bombastically entertaining way possible.
In fact, the film’s lack of nuance is its best asset. Director Shane Black has successfully resisted the temptation to ‘Nolan-ise’ the Iron Man universe by deepening and darkening it. That isn’t a dig at the Dark Knight trilogy, just an acceptance that Iron Man and Batman, despite matching each other in their colossal fortunes, are very different beasts. Unlike its gravelly-voiced emo cousin from DC Comics, Iron Man is almost a comedy as much as it is an action movie. Its script crackles with witty banter and is delivered with the usual aplomb by Robert Downey Jr. who, for the most part, keeps the eponymous hero on the right side of the line between funny and annoying. By shunning pomposity in favour of comedy, the writers have created a product which rightly doesn’t take itself too seriously, and which consequently is a whole lot more fun than many action movies.
Ben Kingsley takes to the humour of the franchise like a duck to water as the Mandarin, an eastern terrorist intent on bringing down the corrupt U.S.A with suicide bombers and threatening broadcasts. Remind you of anyone? At one point, Pierce’s deranged scientist even declares his aim as to ‘control the war on terror.’ But thankfully, as Tony Stark says himself, “There’s no politics here, just good old fashioned revenge.” We’re in dangerous territory when a film like Iron Man 3 attempts to pass comment on international relations, and luckily it swerves that pitfall without too much faltering.
By the climax, the movie is back on the firm footing of robots blowing each other up. In a new innovation however, Tony Stark is able to remotely operate the Iron Man suit, using it in combat without being inside it. This detracts slightly from the sense of jeopardy in the action scenes, as does the fact that the villain is virtually un-killable, and Stark’s ability to summon the suit to him from wherever it might be. It’s all a bit deus-ex-Harry Potter in places, and the action scenes only really come alive when they are driven by dialogue rather than by scrapping robots.
Nonetheless, Iron Man 3 is a film as slick and shiny as its protagonist. Just as there’s never any doubt that our hero will make it out alive, there’s no doubt that this film will be tremendously successful with audiences. It knows how to smoothly deliver action and dialogue, and delivers on the promise of an entertaining two hours in the cinema, with more exploding robots than you could shake a hammer at.