UK Release Date: 25th April 2013
Runtime: 130 minutes
Director: Shane Black
Writer: Shane Black, Drew Pearce
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, Jon Favreau
Synopsis: Suffering after the events of The Avengers, Tony Stark must throw himself into danger yet again when a malevolent terrorist threatens and injures those closest to him.
It was always going to be difficult for the first film in Marvel Phase Two. After the first phase culminated in the greatest superhero ever made, it was always going to be difficult for Iron Man 3 to match up. The problems were made worse by the fact that Jon Favreau’s safe directorial hands were no longer in charge of the franchise, leaving Lethal Weapon scribe Shane Black on writing and directing duties.
Unfortunately, Black is unable to deliver the goods here. To clarify, Iron Man 3 isn’t even close to being a bad movie. In fact, it’s quite good. Unfortunately, it’s not good enough to match any film that exists in the wonderful Marvel Cinematic Universe and certainly is a poor follow-up to The Avengers.
Starting with the positives, this is a very fun film. Shane Black is famous for his wry, often brutal humour and this script is no different. He writes Tony Stark at his most cutting and there are more laughs here than in just about any comedy this year so far, aided by a typically flawless Robert Downey Jr in the role he was clearly born to play.
Gwyneth Paltrow benefits from an expanded role for Pepper Potts, getting her chance to be part of the action – and that action is pretty awesome. Throwing its huge special effects budget right at the screen, there are some stunning set pieces in Iron Man 3. The Mandarin’s statement-making destruction of Tony’s home is a particular highlight, as is the final battle, in which – as shown in the trailer – a plethora of metal friends appear, to the delight of comic fanboys ticking off their favourite suits.
However, Iron Man 3 does have some enormous flaws. The Avengers worked so well because Joss Whedon absolutely nailed the balance between action, drama and humour. Shane Black, in trying too hard to make the film funny, turns a lot of serious plot points into a joke. By about halfway through, the constant quipping becomes incredibly tiresome, especially when Stark is joined by a young ‘sidekick’ for a short period of the saggy middle act.
The other central problem is The Mandarin. Trailers for Iron Man 3 showed Ben Kingsley prominently as the menacing, malevolent terrorist who threatens America and blows up Tony Stark’s entire livelihood. However, the way Shane Black has dealt with his character in this film is nothing short of sacrilege to anyone who recognises the villain from the comics. Batman has The Joker, Superman has Lex Luthor and Iron Man has The Mandarin.
In his destruction of the Mandarin, Black shows a contempt for Marvel fans here that threatens to derail the entire film before it has even reached its climax. It’s depressing that so many reviews are lauding this portrayal as a definitive superhero movie villain. That is far from what it is. It is Shane Black exploiting well-loved characters to create his own bizarre cocktail of solid action and miscellaneous stabs at humour.
Ultimately, that’s what makes Iron Man 3 disappointing. It’s not an Iron Man film; it’s a Shane Black film. Early buzz suggests that many believe it to be the best of the trilogy. Those people could not be more wrong.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.