Being the follow up film to something as grandiose as Joss Whedon’s Avengers triumph has to be as daunting a task for any film. With the closing of “Phase One” complete, where do you go from there? Leave it to director/co-writer Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Lethal Weapon) to kick off Marvel’s “Phase Two” with as big of bang as possible. As if Jon Favreau’s original Iron Man wasn’t a good enough start, now Black has completely made up for what series’ fans complained about with Iron Man 2. While the alien attack on New York City and SHIELD are referenced, don’t expect this to act as just another set up film. Iron Man 3 stands on its own and only the most hardened expectations won’t be met.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) seems to be having a lot of off days lately. Haunted by the events in The Avengers, he can’t get a good night’s rest. He spends every waking hour working in his lab, tweaking his Iron Man suits while trying to wrap his head around what he’s been through, forgetting that everyone else did too. At Stark Industries, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is keeping things on track as CEO while Happy Hogan (Favreau) has been made head of security. One day, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) pays Pepper a visit to try to talk her into backing his new Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), but Pepper insists that Tony would never support his work. Meanwhile, a new villain calling himself The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is wreaking havoc by blowing up the Chinese Theater and making threats against America via cyber-attacks and television broadcasts. When Happy is put into a coma after the explosion, Tony informs The Mandarin that he’s a dead man and offers to take the fight home.
There is a lot of plot in Iron Man 3 that I have chosen to skip over because we all know that’s where the fun lies, right? But to say that Shane Black has outdone both previous series’ entries is an understatement. Along with co-writer Drew Pearce (also of this summer’s upcoming Pacific Rim!), Black offers up some jaw dropping action set pieces which should come as no surprise with his prior endeavors. Downey gets a heaping helping of one-liners with some razor sharp writing. Also, we have a new Christmas season film to add to the list to watch alongside classics Die Hard and Black’s own Lethal Weapon. But the real surprise here may be that Iron Man 3 is the film that proves that yes, Iron Man does have a heart after all.
There’s real emotion coursing through the film’s veins which only provides that extra oomph to the action instead of just watching the first CGI-filled summer extravaganza. Having already opened overseas to an astounding $198 million (even more than last year’s Avengers and now over $300 million in just nine days!), the film will do every bit as well here stateside and Iron Man 3 will surely stand as one of the year’s best films, and the best Iron Man yet.
Photo courtesy Marvel Studios