At a time when some of the biggest blockbusters hit you with gritty realism (The Chris Nolan effect), Iron Man returns to pep us up with escapism and larks. This is probably his best adventure yet.
After The Avengers there was an elephant in the room for Robert Downey Junior’s Iron Man. How do you do jeopardy when your new buddies are superheroes? Why isn’t the Hulk on Tony’s speed-dial, Captain America on LinkedIn and what about poker nights with Thor?
For the first of a new cycle of Marvel adventures, the studio turned to screen-writer-director Shane Black – creator of Lethal Weapon, and purveyor of fantastically sour dialogue in pictures like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – coincidentally the film that re-launched Downey Junior in 2005. He goes at his task with gusto, with co-writer Drew Pearce, penning a story that pivots on Tony Stark’s past coming to haunt a present day that finds him shell-shocked after the events in New York.
Once again Tony is neglecting his long-suffering girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gywneth Paltrow), unable to sleep, tinkering with new Iron Man suits all hours. With his eye off the ball, two characters enter the scene with a potentially unstable combination of intelligence, seduction and a grievance from the past.
Doctor Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) was an ex-fling of Tony’s who back in 1999 was on the verge of perfecting a technology for genetic healing, with explosive repercussions; and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), an industrialist with grand designs of his own and a particular view on Tony’s successful career.
We haven’t even mentioned a prominent character from the trailer, The Mandarin, a figure of terror and mystery played by Sir Ben Kingsley and visually reminiscent of Osama Bin Laden. Sir Ben enjoys himself in this role and the interpretation in the film will surely get comic book fans talking long after the credits have rolled.
Unlike Iron Man 2 which suffered from too many cooks/villains syndrome, this one keeps the balance just right. In fact, it comes up with an intelligent and clever solution to this very issue – which you’ll have to watch for yourself. Let’s just say, they make use of the acting talent available.
You can see the handiwork of Shane Black on the tiller, especially when Tony Stark is forces to spend time without all of his familiar toys. It’s a meet cute schlocky scenario which gets turned on its head by spiky dialogue at every opportunity.
All in, with a nice balance between huge set-pieces, comic banter, plus what passes for darkness in the Marvel universe, IM3 is a lot of fun. It also feels like the end of the road for Robert Downey Junior in standalone films as this character (his contract is up anyway). The cocky ‘mechanic’ who Downey Jnr has breathed so much life into with his deadpan delivery is sure to return somewhere, mind.