Review: Iron Man 3!

25th April 2013

Since the massive success of The Avengers in cinemas across the world fans of comics, Marvel, and let’s be honest, Robert Downey Jr. have been waiting with baited breath for the latest instalment of Iron Man. The first in the series of films that will no doubt influence the sequel to The AvengersIron Man 3 does not disappoint. For many fans the Iron Man film series thus far has seen a consistently brilliant portrayal of Tony Stark, by a man who might as well be the ‘genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist‘ we all know and love, and this film does the franchise justice once again.

In our local cinema there were three screens packed on opening night – a midnight screening complete with a cosplayer in full armour loitering in the foyer. The audience were enthralled from the first moments, with bursts of laughter, awed silence, and the moments of genuine concern for the characters. The whole cast gave a fantastic performance, including Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin. Whilst some die hard Marvel comics fans may not like this version of the character, I personally think that the part was well played, the reveal on the character was both smart and funny, and cleverly arranged for the current live action universe. To be clear, this is not The Mandarin from the comics, but I’m not convinced that the comic version would fit into this film particularly well. It’s played very much as a shadowy puppet theatre of terrorists and puppet masters -resulting in a far more threatening version of the Ten Rings organisation we saw in the first film.

Amidst all of this we see some impressive character progression, whilst characters that play bit parts in the conspiracy plot are shown as being very human with their motives relatable enough that we can feel sorry for them to some extent despite their actions. Over the course of the films we’ve seen Tony Stark go from weapons guru, to prisoner, to a veritable phoenix. Iron Man 2 forced him to deal with his alcohol and womanising issues and The Avengers saw him being utterly selfless. In this film we see the effects of these things, and the role that Pepper Potts plays in his life.

The scene we’ve all seen from the trailer of Pepper in the Mark 42 armour “rescuing” Tony is very central to their relationship at this point. In this film Tony is suffering from the effects of the events in The Avengers. He’s a normal man who has fought with gods, battled an alien invasion, crossed dimensions, and faced his mortality in a brave almost-sacrifice. This film is partly how he as a character responds to that. He’s thrown himself into his work as expected, but can’t sleep due to nightmares, and is experiencing anxiety attacks due to the New York incident. It’s very well played, and it’s a hand that if it had been left to a less subtle direction and actor, it might have been distracting – but in this it helped cement the character further, whilst making his achievements and his relationship with Pepper that much more important.

Iron Man 3 is at least partly about a man who is facing his past and putting his life back together and perhaps finally reaching that light at the end of the tunnel. There are some heart wrenching moments of course, but there are some very sweet and often hilarious moments too. We’re returned to the cheeky humour and not-quite-right-yet gadgets of the first Iron Man film – with Robert Downey Jr. once again playing the wit and charm of Tony Stark perfectly. A mention has to be made of Ty Simpkins, who plays Harley – a kid who is much like young Tony in some ways, and provides an excellent foil for him at times whilst maintaining himself as a unique and memorable character in his own right.

This film truly is Tony Stark at his best but gives a completely new atmosphere to the series which I can only describe as real, and in part remarkably optimistic. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays into the upcoming Marvel films, and ultimately the sequel to The Avengers. Definitely a film that needs to be seen on the big screen, I’m not convinced 3D really makes a difference with this one – but that’s up to you to decide.

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