MOVIE REVIEW- IRON MAN 3 Has Style and Substance, Begins Marvel’s Phase 2 with a Loud Bang

Thanks to slight of hand, a fully developed Tony Stark, and one of Robert Downey Jr's finest performances IRON MAN 3 is the first summer blockbuster.


Marvel Studios

Directed-Shane Black

Starring- Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Ty Simpkins, Don Cheadle, James Badge Dale and Jon Favreau.

Steven’s Quick Review-Loved it, Get’s into the juicy details of Tony Stark’s emotions in a Post AVENGERS universe. Solid direction and a fun script make IRON MAN 3 one of Marvel’s best yet. Robert Downey Jr gives his best performance as the eccentric billionaire and Sir Ben Kingsley gives a somewhat surprising performance as the films main villain The Mandarin.

Steven’s Review-

When IRON MAN 3 made an appearance at Comic Con, it was running on the momentum of THE AVENGERS. At the height in Marvel’s Popularity they made bold announcements about their “Phase 2”, the beginning of which was set to begin as the start of “Phase 1” had, with IRON MAN . While the 800 pound elephant in the room was how they would continue the story into a new set of super hero films, they also had the fact that IRON MAN 2 was for the most part liked by fans and critics but was missing that panache of the first one.

IRON MAN 3 doesn’t get back to the basics that made it so successful but it treats IRON MAN 3 as if it could be the final film of the successful franchise. The films script allows fans to not feel like their hero but to understand Tony Stark the person. We have seen everything we have needed to see from the “Mark” suits and IRON MAN 3 is mostly about Tony Stark. IM3 allows you to understand the emotional toll that being Iron Man takes on it’s main protagonist Tony Stark. The film is right in Robert Downey Jr’s wheelhouse, showing a post AVENGERS Tony Stark who not only has trouble sleeping but can’t seem to get over the emotional roller coaster that was the events of THE AVENGERS. Downey Jr shines in what is his best performance as the quick witted, eccentric billionaire. Especially the emotional pain Stark goes through, even at the mention of the events in New York during the final moments of THE AVENGERS.

IRON MAN 3 begins almost in a voice over, and a flash back to a new years party in europe, when Tony meets a beautiful botanist (Rebecca Hall) who introduces him to something she calls “Extremis”. We are also introduced to Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a gentleman who tony brushes off in an elevator during the films opening sequence. The most important new addition to the cast is unstoppable terrorist The Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley), a psychotic terrorist who is counting down attacks until the one that has him kill the president, The Mandarin is introduced to us as Mr. Stark’s main threat.

Like all of the Marvel films that include Tony Stark, IM3 contains it’s fair share of name calling, quick wit and comedy, especially in some odd places. The film includes a quite funny scene stealing appearance from a little boy in a Tennessee town named Harley, played by Ty Simpkins (INSIDIOUS). Harley meets Tony at a low point and helps the hero through some of his major issues. Simpkins performance as a bullied young boy is perfect, especially one scene where Harley questions Tony about what he saw in New York. Harley is an enjoyable relief for fans who are a bit stressed out between action scenes.

IRON MAN 3 is excellent, it’s fun, it has style, substance and a rather extensive but not overbearing plot. It also includes it’s fair share of plot twists, some are not even close to foreseeable by any audience. It does two things that no other super hero movie has even attempted to this point, most of the films scenes are primarily about Tony Stark and not how awesome his suit is, and two it exceeds in slight of hand. The trailer is primarily window dressing for what is inside this character driven superhero flick and entrusts the audience to understand that not everything is what it seems.

With Jon Favreau out of the directors chair, it’s Shane Black (KISS KISS BANG BANG) who takes the direction duties. Black is more known for writing some of the great action films of the 1990’s including LETHAL WEAPON 1-4, THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT, and THE LAST BOY SCOUT. Black has not made a film since KISS KISS BANG BANG restarted the career of Robert Downey Jr in 2005, and the writer/director even includes aspects of KISS KISS into IRON MAN, including the opening narration which is similar in both movies. Black also wrote the script with Drew Pearce (PACIFIC RIM), who besides this summers monsters vs robots epic PACIFIC RIM is making his major motion picture debut. Pearce and Black write a heck of a script, besides a load of laughs, Black and Pearce allow for a few big twists and turns along the way, as well as giving actors like Downey Jr and Ben Kingsley a lot to work with. The scenes between Tony and the young kid Harley are some of the films best and all the characters seem to reach some form of development, including Sir Ben’s terrorist Mandarin who we find out is not exactly who we thought he was.

As for supporting cast Gwyneth Paltrow, finally gets some action as Pepper Potts. Pepper finally becomes all she can be in IRON MAN 3, and for good reason as Paltrow gives her best performance in the franchise. Don Cheadle reprises his role as Col. James Rhodes, and in his new suit “The Iron Patriot” Rhodey gets more then just the one action scene at the end of Iron Man 2. He becomes the US’s anti terrorism one man wrecking crew, and rhodey and his suit get there fair share of action. Guy Pearce as the villanous Aldrich Killian, a guy who after getting blown off by Tony Stark seems to have reasoning to attempt to get Tony Stark in his pocket. Pearce the adept chamillion of an actor is excellent as one of this films primary villains. His right hand man is played by James Badge Dale, some argued that Dale was going to be a good guy in the film. Instead Dale is actually the guy forced to get his hands dirty in fights with both the iron patriot and Iron Man himself. Rebecca Hall is a new addition as a former fling of Tony Starks who developed the “Extremis” virus in the late 90’s who confronts tony and Pepper after she begins to believe her boss Aldrich Killian is actually working for The Mandarin. Speaking of which, Sir Ben Kingsley enters the fray as the villainous Mandarin, Kingsley’s voice was all anyone could talk about after the trailers and he does not disappoint. Kingsley gives a somewhat epic performance as the villain, even though you find out he may not be exactly who he says he is.

IM3 is a perfect set up to the next Marvel films coming down the pike, with THOR: THE DARK WORLD hitting theaters in November. While there is no hint to the next few movies in IRON MAN 3, it gives us a solid read into what we are to expect from Phase 2, which is some very entertaining super hero flicks, and you won’t find me complaining about that.

P.S- Make sure to stay post credits for a normal Marvel post credits scene as well as a message from Marvel.

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  • It’s hard to maintain the integrity of a character (and cultivate worthwhile plots) across a series, but I’d argue that IM3 does a semi-decent job of this. It will be interesting to see the role that Tony Stark/Iron Man plays in Avengers 2…

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